garden party

tiny watermelon bud held by a little hand

My husband, the chef, spent months of this year going around the country as a task force chef.  He spent most of last winter in Texas helping other chefs in the company succeed. I was jealous because I love warm weather and traveling. He was jealous because he missed spending time at home with the kids. His traveling has been hard on us because we actually enjoy spending time together. The kids really miss him when he travels too. We accept that he doesn’t have a lot of free time but any time without him is a little sad for us. While being across the country and still a little sad about being apart from the kids, he suggested to our oldest son that we should grow a garden this summer. He asked the boys what they would like to grow. Our youngest son chimed in, “Can we grow a bacon plant?” He’s asked a few more times since then, hoping that scientists will discover a way to grow his favorite food. Until then, we’ll have to stick with the vegetables and fruits that made their way into our first garden.

Now, as summer winds down, we can say that the garden has been a “great success!” As a food photographer, I couldn’t help but document the growth of this garden. I never knew how some of these plants start out. How tiny and beautiful a watermelon can be. How fuzzy and cute a cantaloupe is before it matures. If you were here, my youngest would give you the tour of the garden. He’s three and he knows exactly what everything is—always correcting me that it’s rhubarb, not rutabaga, while chewing on a piece of kale that he picked. He announces, “I love kale, mom. Kale is the best!”

kale blossoming from garden

What a bonus that I could pick jalapeno peppers and sugar snap peas whenever I wanted to add them to a meal. I know a garden’s not a new concept, but to us, it was a chance to do something together. When other chefs needed him back in their restaurants this summer, we’d send him photos. Instead of countless pictures of the kids making silly faces, we sent him photos updating him on the status of the garden.

3 jalapenos on a black wood board

The blueberries seem to be finished, but watermelon, cantaloupe and tomatoes are really starting to come up. The kale stands tall and we’ve been using it for salads like crazy. When a three year old snacks on kale, it’s the greatest feeling. “You really do love kale, buddy,” I mentioned, still in shock that he was eating it.

“Just kidding, mom. Bacon is the best.”

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