Tuesday, August 16, 2011



I had a cucumber with my dinner last night. Not just any cucumber. This one was a perfect specimen. Cool, crunchy, and green as Oz. From its fragrance to its flavour, it was everything a cucumber should be. And I should know because cucumbers have always been one of my favorite treats of the summer season. However the most amazing thing about this particular cucumber was neither is colour, its taste, nor its crunch. You see, this is a cucumber I actually grew myself and I couldn’t be prouder if I’d invented fire.

I have always wanted to grow my own vegetables, but the many towering trees that surround our cottage eclipse the sun required for a healthy crop. So when I heard last year that my city was planning to build a real community garden, a place where citizens could lease a plot of ground to grow their own fruits and vegetables, I was delighted. In my town’s case, they really went above and beyond in the construction of this garden. They located the perfect sun-filled site in a brand-new park. They fenced it in, built raised beds and filled them with soil so rich Jack would have had no need of magic beans to grow a beanstalk fifty feet high. They placed lots of water outlets on site and added a well-stocked tool shed for everyone to use. The Songwriter and I leased two 5x12 plots as soon as they became available and this spring found us planting seeds with a hopeful spirit. And we weren’t alone. In our community garden there are experienced gardeners of course, but also quite a few novices just like us, those whose home gardens are either too small or too shaded to accommodate a flourishing vegetable patch.

I have learned quite a lot about gardening in the past several months. Who knew okra would grow taller than me? But, I’ve learned even more about gardeners. Gardeners are a friendly lot. Calm and considered, they are not prone to selfishness nor hyperbole. Gardeners share and they tell the truth. If you have planted mint because you thought it was pretty and liked the way that it smelled, an experienced gardener will gently pull you aside and clue you in on the invasive properties of that particular plant. And a novice gardener will take that advice and relocate her mint to a container instead. We freely share advice and information. We delight in each other’s successes and keep an eye out for squash worms in each other’s plots. In other words, we’re a real community.

Our vegetables, so hopefully planted in April, have delighted us each summer evening when we all show up with our snippers and baskets to see what’s ready to harvest. It’s been like Easter egg hunting for adults. One often overhears exclamations of delight when a zucchini is found or a bean has suddenly appeared on a curly tendril of green. I did some whooping of my own in June when I lifted a fanlike leaf and spied my very first cucumber, the first of a great many. For the past several months we’ve enjoyed fresh tomatoes and okra, basil and watermelon (fifteen of them!), half-runner beans, oregano, lemon thyme and rosemary, and as many flowers as I could manage to fit it... purple coneflower, marigolds, cosmos, black-eyed susans, lavender and zinnias. The Songwriter even made pickles! A first in our many years together.

One night’s harvest shown here
in my marvelous gathering basket
In the face of so many food recalls and ecoli scares, such as the one that made its virulent way across Europe in June, many of us are more concerned about how our food is grown and harvested. There is even a vegetable garden on the Obama White House lawn. This can only be a good thing. Many cities across the US have begun community garden programs and I can heartily, and empirically, recommend taking part in the opportunity they afford. Homegrown food tastes better, it’s nutritious and growing it is just downright fun.

Here’s one of the dishes I’ve been concocting from our bounty all summer long. You can make it in a flash, it goes spectacularly well with anything you can think of, and it’s just delicious. Give it a try and see what I mean.

House of Edward Corn and Tomatoes

2 teaspoons good olive oil
2 ears fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup sweet onion
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
sea salt, to taste

Heat oil in large skillet till hot. Add corn and onion and saute until the corn just begins to brown, usually about 7 minutes or so. Throw in the diced tomatoes, basil, and salt. Stir together a couple of times and remove from heat. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving. Reheats wonderfully, if there’s any left.

Top photo from the blog of Miss Moss.
A wonderful place to visit!


  1. Hello there Green Gardener! Now this is a great idea. I wish we had room in our neighborhood for a community garden but my neighbors who do grow their own vegetables share with every one else; I have pots full of basil and it is shared. That is the point, and it does give new meaning to our connection to the earth, doesn't it?

    Enjoy and this recipe looks WONDERFUL! But of course olive oil, basil and tomatoes make anything special!



  3. Your garden sounds delightful and I know exactly how you feel when discovering a new baby vegetable. I do not have a garden anymore but would love to get my hands on a city patch, as we no longer have our farm.
    Great recipe too. Happy harvesting
    Helen xx

  4. Ah, sounds like another life long gardener is born...excellent! There's nothing like the good clean fun of dirt and nothing like eating the produce from the work of one's own hands.
    If you're interested, see my travel photos of a harvester, using a scythe, on my blog. In some parts of the world, harvest is still done the 'very' old fashioned way.

  5. That turban like headgear in the top photo reminds me of someone . The rest of the ensemble doesn't .

  6. Hello Pamela

    I know how you feel about fresh vegetables with a meal. Our garden was great this year and I was able to can for the first time(green beans, tomatoes and I made fresh salsa).
    I will try your recipe--sounds like a good one.

    Fall and winter is going to be soooo good!

    Have a great week

    Tracy :)

  7. How great to grow your own vegetables! I'd love to eat them freshly picked from the garden. I agree with you how worrying it is with the e-coli scare etc we bought an ozone sterilizer. Alas our garden is just too shady to grow lovely vegetables, though whenever I'm able I visit the Farmer's markets around and about.

  8. Ahhh, one of the best-kept secrets...community gardens. I understand these delgihts :)

  9. I had a big smile on my face all through this post.'I couldn’t be prouder if I’d invented fire'-'One often overhears exclamations of delight when a zucchini is found.' :-) This was such a wonderful read. What a great community. Happy Easter egg hunting!

  10. How wonderful Pamela! As you know,gardening takes over our life for several months but in winter, I'm so thankful it does. I canned 92 jars of tomatoes this year and come winter...soup,salsa,tomato gravy, the list goes on. I'm proud for you! XO

  11. HEY! farmer Pam, You did a great job. My tomatoe plant died.
    Lost my green thumb. I love fresh cucumber sandwiches.


  12. Nothing beats produce from one's own garden Pamela. Today we had broad beans, courgettes and spring onions and then we had gently stewed plums from our plum tree, with custard - nectar. Cucumbers do not do well here unless grown in a greenhouse, so I have to buy those. But a fresh cucumber sandwich is delicious on a hot day, maybe with a bit of cream cheese too.

  13. How fun to be growing all those vegetables. And how wonderful to pick them and then figure out what to cook. Nothing beats that! It makes us very inventive cooks!

  14. I think you and Mr. H would have a lovely chat about growing vegetables. I put him onto it in the Spring and you would think we had a newborn child with each zuchini blossom! I on the other hand...go for the thrill of a home grown tomato. :)

    I had the best ratatouille tonight...If I can sneak the recipe from the chef I will be sure to send it! A vegetarian delight....

    Jeanne xxx

  15. Hey Pamela, what a lovely post ! I have a big enough yard to have a lovely vegetable patch (in my fantasy life it would be a "potager"), but haven't yet taken advantage. However I have two lovely neighbours who garden and it's so interesting to see what and how they plant. The one neighbour is Greek, so all of his vegetables grow up...tomatoes, runner beans, zucchini. The other is Polish so everything he grows is underground; carrots, potatoes, onions. They trade. And share with us ! We feel very fortunate.

  16. I am envious of your wonderful harvest. Food you grow yourself tastes so much better than mass production, all fighting in small spaces to get the nutrients they need. Devoid of loving hands to tend, just machinery. I bet that cucumber was sweeeeet! I didn't know okra grew that hig!
    Enjoy your gardening week :-)

  17. I love cucumber sandwiches and community gardens... I imagined the basket would hold a book and Edward's treats, but it is of course perfect for your harvest. It makes me very happy to see you use it~

  18. We have the same lack of sun from big trees in our yard but we grow herbs. How wonderful to have a community garden both for the gardening and the community. We get our veg from the farmers' market 3 times a week.

  19. How marvellous..you had a secret garden...I always wanted to have a little vegetable garden..but we travel to often..It would soon be a wilderness..Enjoy the harvest..


I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!