The Vegetable Garden

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by Suzanne Ruggles

“I just came in from the garden. It had been calling me for quite some time, and I was resisting. But it didn’t stop calling, and I was practically levitated to it, and there it was – the garden in splendor: glorious light shining from every bean flower, the bright, clear yellow of “Goldmarie Vining” pole beans against the dark, blue- green cedar, a fat baby cat bird sitting confused on the fence, trying to figure out what life was.

I observed his plump, silly little nature, his feathers so infantile, his innocent-yet-learning attitude. He was observing me, and I let him. I got as close as I could without causing him to fly away and then I backed away very slowly, consciously, and respectfully. Somehow, he knew that I didn’t see him as food.

I turned and there they were: grape tomatoes, plump and ripe. They were the voice that had been calling me from my kitchen and they said, “Hello” with confident anticipation. They drew me like a magnet and I plucked one like an opal. I felt it – the soft swollen skin, filled to capacity, welcome and chill. I touched it to my lips and my body wanted it. I felt the plump weight of it with my lips and on my tongue and I gently, lovingly, and respectfully bit into it, tasting every sensation in every part of my mouth: the juice, the flavor, the ting, the stickiness. As I swallowed it, my throat was washed and massaged with delicious earth juice nectar. Nourishment from the entire universe awakened every cell in my body. I was eating stars and moonlight and birdsong and wind and water and rain and sun. I was alive, and here I was, in my own little yard, at the grand, happy, top of the world.

This is so much more blissful than driving to the supermarket, getting a shopping cart swarming with germs, selecting and exchanging cash for a tomato that has traveled thousands of miles to be here, transported by airplanes and trucks spewing pollution and using gasoline; trucks, planes and trains that require truck, plane and train factories; highways and runways; railroads and traffic lights; crossings and road paint; traffic signs, mufflers, whistles, train stations, gas stations, gas pumps, water filters, and waste. And then they are packaged in plastic, foam, and wrap from plastic, foam, and wrap manufacturers; and labeled with ink and chemical adhesives from you guessed it: label and ink factories. And how many hands have touched that tomato? How many animals have died for that tomato – their habitat stolen, the mechanical traps, the guns? How much insect death has taken place for me to finally eat that tomato -the insecticides, the fungicides, the traps? How much refrigeration used, accounting done, negotiations made for that tomato?

And yet, here I stand.. eating.
From earth to vine to mouth to cells.
I in my garden, here I am.
And the Earth says “Thank You”.
And I say “Thank You”. ”

Annual Herbs: Basil (many varieties, Bay Leaf, Chamomile, Cilantro/Coriander, Citronella, Curry, Dill, Fennel, Garlic, Leeks, Lemon Verbena, Marjoram, Parsley (flat & curly), Perilla (Shiso), Rosemary, Scented Geraniums, Shallots, Tarragon

Perennial Herbs: Anise Hyssop (Fragrance, Teas), Chives, Fennel, Garlic Chives, Horseradish, Tarragon, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Mints, Oregano, Oswego Tea (Monarda), Saffron Crocus, Sage, Thyme, English and Lemon

Annual Vegetables: Leafy greens, Arugula, Mesclun Greens, Mustard Greens, Kale, Lamb’s quarters, Lettuce, Purslane, Radicchio, Spinach, Swiss chard

Root Vegetables: Parsnips, Carrots, Beets, Jerusalem Artichoke, Radishes, Rutabaga, Potatoes

Cucurbits: Squash – Summer & winter, Pumpkins, Cucumbers

Other: Artichoke Beans (Bush & Pole), Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Corn, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Eggplants,m Kohlrabi, Okra, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Tomatoes

Perennial Vegetables: Rhubarb, Asparagus

Annual Edible Flowers: Arugula, Borage, Calendula, Cornflower(Bachelor’s Button), Dill, Jasmine, Kale, Marigolds (Tagetes Lemon Gem & Tangerine Gem), Mustard, Nasturtiums, Pansy, Scarlet Runner Bean (Phasaeolus coccineus), Scented Geranium (pelargonium spp.), Sunflowers, Squash, Tulbaghia, Viola

Perennial Edible Flowers: Hemerocallis (daylilies), Dianthus cheddar pinks, Hollyhock (alcea rosea), Monarda, Violet, Chives, Roses, Hysop, Tulip, Strawberry (Fragaria spp)

Edible Flowers on Trees: Apple (Malus), Plum (Prunus), Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

Fruit: Blackberries, Figs, Gooseberry, Quince, Raspberries, Strawberries

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The Original Barefoot Gardener of the Hamptons