What I Did on My Summer Vacation (I Grew Things)


Say you have a patch of dry, cracked soil somewhere on your property. Or maybe a big planter you received as a gift with a fresh bag of Miracle Grow potting soil. You have this new pesto recipe and need basil? The top layer of dirt sits with the little white fertilizer dots just staring at you. The peaks of parched soil resemble the jagged cliffs in Death Valley. The potential lies sitting in the sun, and you stare at it, longingly, like a forgotten New Year’s Resolution.

Perhaps you have children who brought home from school little seedlings in painted vases for Mother’s Day, and you must honor this sweet gesture, their basic gathering instinct by not letting the sprouts rot in your home office.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume you have some spare time on your hands with summer here, and every day you hear the ritualistic chant from small people, “I am bored…I am bored…”


2 cups basil leaves

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley

2-3 garlic cloves

1/4 grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts, or a combination of both

coarse grain salt and pepper to taste

squeeze of lemon juice

1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients except for olive oil into food processor or blender, and pulse until pureed.

Add a stream of olive oil until it reaches your desired consistency.

            #Pesto Recipe#


As a final hypothetical, maybe while you were waiting in line at the grocery store ready to part with half of your paycheck on the war against pesticides and go organic, you overheard someone say “Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.”

Well, what are you going to do?

Get on your old clothes, sacrifice the manicure, burn some calories and plant some hope eternal, with dreams of homemade pesto and cauliflower gratin fueling your every push on the garden cultivator-thingie.

Picture it now; the proud emblem of dirt under your fingernails, your children beaming with pride at the dinner table as they exclaim “I grew that!”, the savvy in your step as you pass the zucchini in the grocery store, knowing your own homegrown squash is just waiting for you at home in your garden, with the prettiest little blossom on top just begging to be stuffed with a ricotta and basil mixture, then pan fried in olive oil, thank you very much.

This is not a fantasy, not an illusion. People grow things in practically every home in America.

As far s gardening goes, I have gone 2 for 4 in my vegetable, herb and fruit garden attempts, the worst experience being last year. Nothing grew. I thought perhaps the soil was bad, or the irrigation system broken, so I did some digging and discovered these horrible underground pests that looked like something from an alien movie. They’re called grubs, and grubs eat plant roots. I plotted my green, leafy revenge for the following spring and summer.

Overwhelmed by the amount of gardening information on the internet, I browsed my local library and found a book on gardening with the cycles of the moon. This practice goes back centuries, in many cultures. Not only that, but I learned that the Zodiac calendar also played a part in successful farming. Ships were sailed by the stars and ancient people survived somehow before the Industrial Revolution. Who was I to doubt their wisdom?

With a patch of ugly dirt sitting in my backyard, I had absolutely nothing to lose.

I used pest control when the waning phase of the moon was in one of the barren signs; Leo, Virgo, Aquarius and Aries. The same applied for tilling the soil.

I planted, transplanted and fertilized when the waxing moon was in a fruitful sign of Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces. And during the waning moon, I peeked at, talked to, hovered near and tiptoed around my garden, but never planted anything during this phase of the moon, evidently, it’s a big no-no.

And one steamy summer morning I heard squeals and giggles from the backyard. We had sprouts.

The sprouts got bigger, and became plants.

The plants grew flowers, and from those flowers, vegetables appeared.

The vegetables multiplied until we were downloading new recipes for a surplus of zucchini and radishes.

There were squabbles over the first ripe heirloom tomato.

There was delight in the accomplishment of a family learning together, working together,  cooking together, and dining together.

Let’s say you never heard of ethnoastronomy or moon farming before. But you do have hungry people to feed, no? And that Caprese Salad you paid so much for at dinner last Friday seemed so simple to make once you thought about it, right?

Well, what are you waiting for? Your summer project – feeding for a lifetime – is calling you in the form of a dry patch of soil, with a green, leafy future.


Smantha Gianulis

Smantha Gianulis

Samantha recently released my her family food memoir, Little Grapes on the Vine…Mommy's Musings on Food & Family .

Samantha is a self-taught chef. She worked in the Catering and Special Events industry for seven years before becoming a stay at home, now a work at home, Mom.
She appeared on NBC's ivillage Live.

Smantha Gianulis
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