crisp and sweet, every one


One benefit of growing up in flyover country: we were all totally aware of where food came from. In Iowa, the ads during the nightly local news are dominated by pesticides, and the weather is delivered with the proper urgency required for viewers whose livelihoods depend on it.

My mom always had a vegetable garden, as did her mom, and hers, and on up the Mormon survival food chain. Mom let me grow radishes, which were excellent dipped in late-summer salt (with a touch of dirt). I’ve waxed turmeric about my growin’ skillz on these pages for years. Needless to yammer, I’ve been pretty vigilant about Lucy knowing her way around a tuber, as it were. Let’s see how we did this year, shall we?

First, California:


in April we started seedlings: tomato, carrots, basil and chives


her pinkies were exceptionally suited to the task; those seeds are TINY


we left them in her playroom window in Venice for six weeks


just before transplanting


even a good soil mix can’t fix the problems of growing on a desert beach


however, by August, the Brandywines were yummy…


…as were the carrots

Verdict? Next year, we’re using raised gardens in planter boxes. The soil by the beach in LA is only suitable for lemon trees and bananas.

Next up, the farm in upstate NY:


in June, Lucy picked the spot…


…and I mulched, knowing we’d be gone for four months


summer renters, like this playwriting group from NYC, sent pictures…


…until Lucy literally saw the fruit of our labor – albeit beleaguered by frost – over Thanksgiving

Wait, did I just write one of those blogs that grandmothers write?

0 thoughts on “crisp and sweet, every one

  1. Killian

    Yes, and what a fabulously entertaining grandmother you are!!!!!
    The pics are beautiful, and good luck with all the projects in the works.

  2. Anne

    *hrmmm* Nothing wrong with those blogs grandmothers write! ;-)
    Wonderful that you photo-documented this. (And that first pic of Lucy is gorgeous — those EYES!)
    You are right about soil by the sea. We did a raised tiny veggie garden this summer with enriched and leavened soil for our first full gardening season in this home, and it was semi-successful. Peppers — fuggedaboudit. Herbs: huge. Cucumbers: good in the early season, not so much later. The smaller tomatoes, especially those sweet orange cherry tomatoes, did best here, so I’m planting several of those next year and skipping the big ones — the farmer a mile inland from us can do much better, and I like stopping at the farm stand.
    To make this a granny post: Our then 2.5 year old granddaughter developed her first love of tomatoes this past summer from picking the cherry tomatoes and miniature Italian plum tomatoes from our backyard vines. Her mom was amazed; at home Caroline wouldn’t touch them. But “Nana’s tomatoes” proved the charm. Nothing like fresh off the vine.

  3. Big Scott

    Hmmm . . . Ian as a grandmother. Sounds like a Halloween costume for 2009 to me.
    I think it’s great that you’re taking the time and effort to teach Lucy about where the food on her plate comes from. I’ve never known of a child that didn’t love planting and growing vegetables for the table.
    I’m rapidly approaching forty years old and I still can’t smell a tomato straight off the vine without remembering my Pappaw. He used to take me to the garden to ride the tractor and he always had two things in his pocket: a pocket knife and a salt shaker. After working for a while, he would peel the skin off of a tomato in one long strip and serve up slices of tomato with just a little salt. When I smell fresh tomatoes now, I’m five years old again, standing in the garden with warm tomato juice dripping off of my chin and a huge smile on my face. It’s like summer distilled.
    I hope I can give my children the same sort of memories.

  4. Claudia

    Your veggies are utterly beautiful. I have a request, though; as a diehard citydweller married to someone rather tired of subways and grime, can you please stop posting such lovely photos? Museums and excellent restaurants have enough trouble competing with fresh air and quiet during our dinnertime conversations without gigantic pumpkins and fresh vegetables and herbs. It’s very, very hard for a foodie to argue against fresh vegetables and herbs.

  5. danielle

    I just have to say how impressed I am with your pumpkins. I remember being there when you planted the seeds. you must pass on the secrets to your green thumb. I am currently looking at yet another plant that I have some how managed to kill.

  6. michelle

    Sometimes I think I should *only* write about my gardening, but then, even my mom would probably stop reading my blog. Still, it is endlessly interesting for me, and I too am so delighted that Lucy is continuing the tradition of a love of growing things. Whenever I come there in the summer loaded with tomatoes from my garden, I always delight in how she seems to crave them almost as much as lollipops.
    Danielle, you really should try any kind of squash- summer, winter, pumpkin. They are extremely hardy and will give you a wonderful sense of accomplishment. However, you need a pretty big bit of earth to make it happen, because they become monsters.


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