When I was growing up in central Kentucky, springtime meant gardening time. My father has kept a garden for as long as I can remember, and even now, at age 70, he still has a small patch of tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers in his backyard.
As a child, I loved to sit with him and pour over the Burpees catalog, exploring the seemingly infinite varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and corn. As he patiently made his selections, I always wondered – was he going to give in to my mother and plant peas even though he thought the yield wasn’t worth all the work? Would he plant pole beans or bush beans? How many types of peppers would he grow this season?
After the seeds arrived, I loved the trips to Southern States to pick up more plants, stakes, fertilizer, and twine. In the evenings, I would sit for hours looking at all the baby vegetable plants (laid out on my mother’s dining room table, much to her chagrin) and try and guess which vegetable or fruit each one would turn into.
At last came time to do the actual planting. The ground freshly tilled, my dad would let me follow behind him and drop a seed into a hole he had dug or gently pat down the earth around one of the plants. Then, after all the preparation and planting, the first tiny green leaves began to poke their way out of the ground. You knew that soon all the long effort would deliver its sweet reward–long summer days followed by a supper table laden with so many fresh vegetables you could almost lose count.
As we prepare for the opening day of the Cheverly Community Market, I am drawn again to these memories of my childhood–the rich smell of deep brown earth, the sweet crunch of the perfect tomato eaten straight from the garden, the promise of things to come.