My dad always had a vegetable garden in the side yard at my growing-up home. I remember the hours of work he’d put into tilling the ground each year, spreading the manure, sowing the seeds of lettuce, spinach, beans, cucumbers, carrots and radishes, and planting the onion sets and tomato plants. He’d tend to the garden on warm Sunday afternoons, his well-worn T-shirt soaked with sweat, while my mom and all of us kids tended to other things. Every so often after he’d planted the garden, I’d head over to see the tender shoots as they poked through the soil, their tiny leaves stretching to feel the warmth of the sun.
But what I remember most about my dad’s garden are the vegetables and the deliciousness he’d make with them. He wasn’t a gourmet cook, by any means, but he was a passionate cook. In the summertime, there was always a bowl full of freshly sliced cucumbers with vinegar, water (ice cubes if it was really hot in the house) and a pinch of sugar, on the counter. He’d make spinach salads (or cooked spinach) topped with a soft-boiled egg and vinegar (he had a thing for vinegar). And he’d take thick slices of tomato, sprinkle generously with salt (and sometimes sugar), and eat it if it were chocolate cake. Beans were snapped, carrots were peeled, and then boiled and topped with butter and finished with a dash of Morton salt—the radishes, well, those were an acquired taste that not all of us acquired.
My plan is to finally try my hand at vegetable gardening this year; I’ve been a flower garden kind of gal thus far. And so, when I heard about Michelle Bruhn and Forks in the Dirt, I knew she could be my vegetable garden guide. Bruhn is as passionate as anyone when it comes to gardening, farming and local food sourcing. You can check out the feature about her on page 16, which includes tips on starting your own vegetable garden, as well as a how-to from Bruhn herself on creating a container salad garden, in the Noteworthy section on page 8. How cool is that?
-Nancy Eike, guest editor