Competitive Gardening

continued (page 2 of 2)

“Thank you,” they said. “We love pesto.”

Of course you do, I thought, smiling my most gracious smile. But pesto’s small potatoes compared to my 2012 plan of attack.

This spring, I’ll be installing a raised bed back where the outhouse used to be; it’ll be built from 2x8s from the local hardware store, and drained with nifty old pipes we found in the basement. We’ll fill that bed with nitrogen-rich soil, to which we’ll add the compost I’ll create out of leftover fair-trade coffee grounds and free-range eggshells. We’ll grow our taller plants, our peas and beans, up at the northern end of the garden, and our low-growers, the radishes and carrots, down toward the south. In between, we’ll have cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, and squash arranged in attractive alternating rows.

And this fall, just as the cooler plants are coming in—our Brussels sprouts, our chard—I’ll take out the jars of peppers I’ve preserved in olive oil, and the August tomatoes I’ve sprinkled with garlic and herbs and dried in my oven. I’ll chop the cauliflower I’ve bathed in a vinegary escabeche, and add a few olives to the mix. And maybe—what the hell—I’ll whip out the old pasta maker, and stuff a few ravioli with some homegrown squash. I’ll lay it all out on the stoneware I’ll order from Mallorca, on the table we’ll have fashioned out of New Jersey pine. And then I’ll invite my neighbors for an overdue housewarming, and we’ll have ourselves a feast.

How you like them apples, New Jersey neighbors?

Now just wait till I bake you a pie.

Lauren Grodstein, author of A Friend of the Family, last wrote for Gourmet Live at Christmastime. You can find her at and on Twitter at @laurengrodstein.

Subscribe to Gourmet