Small, and sometimes secret, spaces make the best spots for growing. Acres of fields have their vast beauty, but I have always been drawn to the figs peeking out of a city garden or the potted olive tree.
The most flavorful produce is often grown right where you live. It’s hard to get much more fresh than ripe, just-picked tomatoes, and the sweetest, albeit tiniest, strawberries I’ve ever eaten were from a plant I grew at the age of six.
Whether you care for a lone berry plant or commit yourself to the summer-long haul of coaxing vegetable vines upward in a narrow yard, find a place to grow something. If you’re new to the idea of a kitchen garden, start with plants that are relatively easy to cultivate. The tomato plant and its harvest are quite forgiving, as are herbs, watermelon radishes, and peas. Even if a tomato is twisted off the vine too soon, its blush will continue to deepen on the counter.
One of my favorite spots for a tiny garden is the front steps. Regardless of what I plant elsewhere, I carve out a small space to cultivate herbs not far from my door. An aromatic garden filled with oregano and rosemary yields fresh ingredients almost as fast as you can use them. During the warm months, I love leaving a pot on the stove and popping outside with bare feet to snip a few sprigs.
As long as you have space for a container, there is room to grow something you find delicious. Potted carrots and lettuce are perfect for simple homegrown salads, and if you are lucky enough to have a small balcony, imagine stepping outside to gather ingredients for a slow Saturday lunch.
We often think about the connection that comes from getting our hands dirty and growing our food, and a jewel box garden requires a level of attention that makes its rewards even sweeter. When we grow a small amount of something delicious, we tend to eat it all. Berries pushing over-ripeness become a jam-like drizzle for dessert, and unused basil is dried to be crushed with mortar and pestle.
For every lone tree that occasionally produces a few olives, there is a kitchen gardener rejoicing in this yield, eating them slowly, savoring them whole.