produceAt the ministry where I work, we have a community garden maintained by volunteers. Which means I can occasionally swing by on my way home to grab a few tomatoes, cucumbers, or squash to enjoy for supper. Talk about perks!

I can’t walk into the garden without thinking of the many gardens I’ve experienced over the years and how NOW is peak season for harvesting. So I thought I’d take you on a brief tour of some gardens I’ve known.

We always had a garden when I was growing up. From lettuces in the spring to potatoes in the fall, it was an on-going feast for the belly. Not to mention never-ending toil for the back! We’d pick up rocks when Dad plowed in the spring, help with the planting, weed if someone made us, and harvest the bounty as it ripened.

The best part of the garden was when Dad would let us pick something to plant. One year it was popcorn (which I think failed utterly). I always wanted to grow watermelon.

I think my favorite crop was sweet corn. We always grew Illini Super Sweet. I can remember eating three or four ears at a time. Now two are as many as I can manage, but maybe my mistake is in eating anything else along with it.

When we moved to NC, I grew a few vegetables in pots or tucked into the flower beds, but let’s just say I didn’t meet with a whole lot of success. But a nearby neighbor–now HE had a garden. First of all, he offered us the freedom to come pick what we wanted. I tried to exercise discretion, but oh, those little yellow pear tomatoes! Eventually he gave me two rows to grow what I wanted–reminiscent of those childhood years. And just like those childhood years, his produce was always better than mine.

Now I mostly visit the garden at work. It’s maintained by someone else–someone more meticulous about gardening than I ever was. I try to only take the “extra.” The produce the kids won’t eat (okra, anyone?). But even if I only pick one or two tomatoes and a handful of string beans, they taste all the better for having been plucked warm from the vine.

I think the thing about a garden is the smell of dirt and rain and green, growing things. They whet the appetite like nothing else can.