Two sisters, two coasts, one blog

Summer Pasta


I, unlike my sister, am a novice gardener. Even though we come from a long line of green thumbs on both sides – our paternal grandmother grew up on a farm and our maternal lineage is littered with beautifully composed botanical havens – I was never all that interested. My mom put in a garden wherever she found herself, including in the two foot wide strip of dirt encircling the concrete pad in back of the little stucco Berkeley bungalow we rented for a few years. I’m pretty sure my only involvement was directing her to put a rose bush under my window since I have no memories of helping with planting or weeding. I must have been inside on the couch, reading. What a brat!

But during my twenties I lived with a few other marginally employed free spirits in a rambling, ramshackle house whose best assets were it’s slightly sagging covered porch and the large vegetable plot someone had put in just a few steps away. Suddenly I was enchanted – here was a garden I could get behind, one I could eat out of! The ordinary magic of it has stuck with me, biding it’s time through one unsuitable urban dwelling after another.

Until the man and I bought this old ranch house on a .73 acres a couple of years ago. Standing in the front yard we surveyed the sunny swathe of grass stretching out front of the house like a big velvety green canvas. ‘An orchard!’ K exclaimed, and then ‘a pond!’. Picturing happy dogs, running I cried ‘let’s fence the whole thing!’. I mentally sketched out where we would build generous raised beds for our vegetable garden, and scouted the perfect spot for a row of blueberry bushes and an herb garden.

Temporary insanity, clearly, because as any new home owner knows, for every little project you noted and accounted for in the purchase, there’s about ten thousand more urgent and expensive problems that appear immediately after you sign on that dotted line. Fast forward 27 months and our green canvas remained mostly intact. We’d planted two trees in our orchard, an apple and a fig; a couple of blueberries, and a handful of herbs. After pricing out what it would cost to construct the raised beds we’d need (because of our vole infestation) to put in vegetables we pushed the project to the back burner.

Then a couple of months ago while clearing a bed choked with ivy, wild grape and virginia creeper we threw in some squash seeds on a whim, a few marigolds, sunflowers and a couple of tomato starts. Honestly we didn’t expect much, we just wanted to see what would happen. So we were thrilled when our first little tomatoes turned red, two pretty pale green squash lay on the vine nearby and our basil plants were in full leaf – enough we realized to make a quick summer pasta:


9 Responses to “Summer Pasta”

  1. Fran Newcross

    sounds really good! bon appetite! I love that feelinmg when ou’ve created food for your table from your own yard. . .

    • oami powers

      Well, you’d know all about that Fran! You always have a great kitchen garden. The basil is from the seed you gave us btw – thank you!

  2. betty

    sounds like the perfect summer meal. i’ll have to try this one. (i’ve learned that 27 months isn’t that long when it comes to house stuff!)

    • oami powers

      We’ve done a lot of work on the house but mostly the un-fun stuff – foundation work, plumbing, roof repairs. I think this has given us a little kick in the pants to do more with the garden next year though.

  3. ruchapowers

    THIS is the best way to start. A little success at a time. We’ve had what I call a “snacking” garden for several years now. We aren’t exactly feeding our whole family out of the garden but there is enough for a little bit of this and a little bit of that. A fig here, some grapes there. I’m lucky to harvest any tomatoes or strawberries at all because they all get eaten off the vine as soon as they ripen! We have had a monster eggplant harvest though but I found you can’t give those away 😉
    I really loved your reminiscences of our childhood gardens. I never realized that I had that in common with mom too. Doesn’t matter where I go I always have to grow something! Love you xoxo

    • nerponline

      Eggplant is gold! Those things are so easy to bake or grill ’til they crunch slightly. With olive oil and salt they’re fabulous. We’ll be happy to take any surplus, any time.

    • oami powers

      I know, how did you pick that skill up and I didn’t? Auntie Diana has this trait as well – remember that stunning garden of hers in Grey Lynn? I think we’ve figured out we’re going to have to build not only a raised bed but also enclose it – some critter has stolen all but these first two squash.


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