Friday, August 22, 2008


A bee pollinates a bean plant in my backyard in Brooklyn.

Early in the summer I came home after classes ended and took my road test to get my license. I failed. But I saw my fathers garden beginning to grow. Every year he has grown a tremendous amount of vegetables for our consumption, as well as extra for pickling, friends and what have you.

This year was no different. Spring was giving way to summer and the garden was full of garlic and onions. Tomato plants had begun to take root, but first a lot of mint needed to be used.

The winter was mild, and this meant two things: lots of ants, and lots of mint. The mint had overgrown everywhere and my parents were making salads, teas, cocktails, and everything else they could think of. Some mint was taken and dried out for use as tea, some was taken fresh as use for tea. Many plants were harvested and given to friends, and more still was eaten by everyone.

But now I have come back again (and passed my road test) and the garden is overgrown. Because of my dad's use of compost, and the buildup of dirt over the last 15 years, the yard has shrunk, and the vegetables have taken over. At the end of the middle of summer, grass is hardly visible. Squash plants dominate the open space, while beans and tomatoes grow in the back; hardly on the back burner.

"Everything is really starting to produce," my dad said as we looked under 14 inch squash leaves for the little green orbs that had begun to grow.

For dinner every night we eat beans fresh from the garden. Every night tomatoes are served in one form or another. Squash is eaten, while it is still young and tender. The fridge is full of harvested things, and the pickling hasn't begun yet. Pickled vegetables will be eaten next year, and all throughout the winter.

Grapes grow on the fence. Mustard greens are scattered about. Swiss chard grows next to a rose bush, "that's a volunteer," dad points out. Potatoes volunteer, arugula, sunflowers and more all push up through the dirt that is so rich from years of compost.

We eat well during the summer.