My maternal grandmother gardened on a smaller scale and chose more delicate vegetables, such as asparagus.
My father has been an avid gardener for as long as I can remember and I am envious of his ability to grow green peppers, a skill I sorely lack.
My own garden – like my cooking – is a bit more eclectic. I’ll try to grow anything.
In previous years, I have grown eggplant, eager to replicate the clear Sauce Aubergine my friends prepared when I lived in Burkina Faso.
I also have tried to grow habanero peppers, or piment, a staple in our West African diet.
I looked eagerly at the peanut plants in the Burpee and other seed catalogs, hopeful that I could grow a crop of fresh peanuts and once again enjoy one of the staples of my diet in the Peace Corps: boiled peanuts, nice and salty.
But thanks to the climate, I had to abandon a few of my more ambitious ideas.
Instead, I’m focusing on herbs, such as lemongrass, which is found in a lot of Asian cuisine, and finding new ways to cook with familiar vegetables, like pumpkins.
Pumpkins are a common food in southern African foods. If you have read The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, you have no doubt come across a description of pumpkin stew that made your mouth water.
But as a Jersey gardener, I know better than to anticipate a glut of any other vegetable except zucchini. Even if you don’t plant zucchini, your neighbors will throw their unwanted extra crop over your garden fence (that you built to keep out zucchini, not rabbits or deer).