Reaping gifts of the garden |

Reaping gifts of the garden

Amy Roby

It’s been several years since I tried my hand at vegetable gardening. The first plot I planted was a success, with a garden that produced tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, kale, pumpkins, and squash. I even had enough squash blossoms to harvest and pan-fry several batches. What a delicate and succulent treat.

Unfortunately, subsequent gardens haven’t been nearly as prosperous. I’ve amended soil, ensured there was adequate water, tried planting different varieties of vegetables, and consulted with my master-gardener step-mom, all to no avail. So I’ve given the garden a rest the past few seasons.

I must admit I miss the meditative practice of tending the soil and plants, the feel of rich earth sifting through my fingers, and the quiet pause in the day when I go out to water. And nothing quite compares to the feeling of preparing food that you’ve grown yourself. There’s such sweetness in that.

The other day my son and I stopped by our neighbor Brenda’s house. She invited us out to the backyard to see her raspberry and tomato plants, both of which were still producing heavily.

Seeing all the red ruby fruit dotting the raspberry branches filled me with delight, but the tomato plant was truly something to behold.

Vines spilled over the sides of the raised garden bed and spread across the gravel path in a tangle of glorious green. It reminded me, and I mean this in the very best way, of that massively oversized plant from “Little Shop of Horrors.” Bright yellow pear tomatoes filled spaces among the greenery like little spots of sunshine. Brenda said that all of this abundance was from a single plant; she’d given pounds and pounds of produce away and the vine hadn’t slowed down in the least.

What fun to pluck those tomatoes. There were obvious visible ones on the outside of the plant, but the fruit was so plentiful that we just plunged our hands into the depths of the vine and felt around until we came across a cluster of golden goodness. Tomatoes literally fell into our hands and before we knew it, the bag was overflowing.

With the bounty that Brenda so generously shared, I made a luxurious yellow tomato soup from a 2001 recipe I found on I served it with crusty grilled cheese sandwiches, and that night’s supper tasted like summer extended in a bowl.

I’m both grateful for, and inspired by, those who have the green thumb gift. Come springtime, I believe I’ll once again call upon knowledgeable friends and family for guidance and give the gardening another go.

Hauntingly good fun at the library

Children in first through sixth grades are invited to the Douglas County Public Library in Minden at 5 p.m. on Monday for a Halloween party.

The winner of the costume contest will get a prize. Party-goers will have an opportunity to try their hand at estimating; a jar filled with candy will be awarded to the child who makes the best guess at the amount. Halloween stories will be read and pizza, candy, and drinks will be served.

The Friends of the Douglas County Public Library sponsor this free event. The Minden library is located at 1625 Library Lane. For more information, find them on Facebook and Twitter, log onto, or call 782-9841.

Amy Roby can be reached at