Earlier this summer I wrote a how-to guide on constructing and growing your own backyard vegetable garden. With that article, I hope I inspired at least a few rookie gardeners to get out in their own yard and start a new hobby. But more than that, I hope that some burnt out gardeners have been rejuvenated this year with a new fail-proof method, and are now enjoying the fruits of their labors. Cheers to all of you even if you’ve never picked up a packet of seeds.
As I was out in my own garden today collecting the day’s harvest, I realized that vegetables have character. So many people never know this little known fact, solely because the produce that comes from your large-scale corporation-run farms does not. I still remember the first year I was successfully raising heirloom tomatoes, and I was a little abhorred and ashamed of some of my tomatoes that exhibited a little more character than their grocery store brothers. I would hide them away from the garden photos, and eat them in secret.
Today I realized how proud I am of those little freaks. Those imperfect specimens signify something so much more than where they came from. On a scientific front, they tell a story of no chemicals, lots of natural sunshine, habitat for many beneficial insects, and water conservation (after all, lawn takes 200% more water to grow than vegetables). But on a much more personal level they tell a much more heartwarming story… vegetables growing alongside the songs from one musical little five-year-old who loves to pretend the plants are an enthralled audience enraptured by her amazing voice (although I have a feeling the neighbors may be sending around a noise complaint violation for signatures as we speak), a story of a healing therapeutic hobby to a woman facing many life-changing events in the past year, and about presenting a new eye-opening landscape to friends and neighbors, but most of all a story of new life and hope.
As I welcomed my second child into the world in May, I was filled with a new sense of family. While my own clan may be as imperfect as many of my vegetables with character, I know that I wouldn’t trade any of them for those grocery store bought cookie cutter fakes. Oh, they may lack drama and look shiny and pretty, but underneath they lack taste, consistency, and pride.
So to make up for eating my past beauties in secret and covering up the fact that occasionally, I may grow some ugly grub, I’d now like to show off my own vegetables with character, for all the world to see – they are strikingly beautiful if viewed from the right angle, and most importantly, they make every meal that much more delicious, flaws and all! So I propose a toast to you “two-legged carrot” and “big-bottomed tomato,” you character-laden heirlooms make my garden glorious!
Kara is a full-time working mother of two who would much prefer to garden and drink wine over working, though she has yet to find an employer who fully appreciates her desired position.