It’s obvious that gardeners’ hands and knees are at home in the dirt, but what may not be visible is that their souls are also attuned with nature. So it follows that gardening and poetry are conjoined. How can one, after all, marvel at the miracle of a seed without sharing that revelation?
In May, I asked readers to compose poetry that expresses their reasons for growing edibles, and exactly 80 of you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards). These are the best crops from that harvest.
By Leslie Bennett, Massapequa
Old man farmer thought his glory days were past,
He saw the want in a young woman’s eyes.
It was his skills he taught,
But, her passion grew his dreams.
She wasn’t sure if she could be him,
So, she persevered until his hands became hers,
Worn eyes that could only look on, still reflected pride.
“This was written for my father-in-law, one of the original farmers of Bethpage. He taught me the love of gardening, and I continue his passion of planting tomatoes, squash, peppers, zucchini, lettuces and herbs. I have since added carrots and spinach and continue to expand with new vegetables and herbs. He can no longer get the soil ready for planting or do the planting himself, as he is ill, but my husband (his son) and I continue his legacy, hoping others in our family will follow.”
— Leslie Bennett
By Frank Rinck, Centerport
Today’s ripe cherry tomato
explodes in the three-year-old’s mouth.
Unconsciously he learns they don’t grow
in plastic boxes on supermarket shelves
but in gardens like this one
just outside Nanni’s kitchen door.
Why I Plant Crops
By JR Turek, East Meadow
No hothouse produce for me, no lines to wait to pay,
no gas to guzzle to get there in time for perfect ripeness,
just a journey across backyard grass to harvest a crop
of homegrown goodness — bush beans, beefsteaks, dill
and thyme. I’m a sharecropper, happy bunnies leave me
By Diane Kopitowsky
She planted her garden with care
Tomatoes and peppers to share
She watered and waited
A Long Island farmer in prayer.
By Irma Souveroff, Baldwin
Near Fennel and the mints I wander daily,
Quite happily unnoticed from the street.
Add comfrey, sage and yarrow, nodding gaily:
Monks’ remedies; companions shy and sweet.
Though winding garden path be worn and rough,
With herbs to heal my days — it is enough.
Why I plant my garden
By Frank De Benedetto, Centereach
When a child is conceived
It’s the beginning of life
When a seed is planted life also begins
When a baby smiles the sun shines brighter
When the sun shines brighter the seed comes to life
A newly conceived child and seed give so much happiness to life.
Limerick of Hope!
By Jane Shelley, Wantagh
I have a small vegetable plot,
Where my tomatoes grow, ’cause it’s hot.
I water and stake,
Cultivate with a rake,
And pray for no blossom end rot!
By Eileen Melia Hession, Long Beach
I feed my tomatoes in springtime
All summer I water and weed,
Until they’re bright red and juicy I give them whatever they need.
Then I pick them and freeze them and can them
And I taste them, and here’s what I’ve found,
Just a little work in my garden gives me summer the whole year ’round.
Basil as Tribute
By Elaine Anne Pasquali, Dix Hills
I look at the green, shiny basil leaves
and inhale their signature aroma
Memories of Mom’s cooking flood my mind
her spaghetti sauce chock full of basil
her mozzarella, tomato, and basil salad
Mom is gone and now I’m cooking with basil
I grow basil in tribute to my Mom’s memory.
Tomatoes and Memories
By Terri Donahue, Center Moriches
With grandkids we plant grape tomatoes, young and small
Grandpa helps to stake them when they grow too tall
With lots of water and tender care, they anxiously wait
For yellow flowers to turn to fruit, impatient for the taste
They pluck; they bite, while ’mato juice runs down each face
It’s not just tomatoes that grow every season
Grandkids and memories are the best reason.
My Reasons For Growing Crops: My Veggie Garden
By Judy Burkhoff, Wantagh
My veggie garden’s in the backyard, close to my house, in the sun.
I harvested, prepped and planted, and indeed, it was much fun.
The benefits are amazing, as the produce is nutritious;
There is no greater payoff than eating homegrown that’s delicious.
It saves me money, keeps me limber, reduces stress, improves my mood;
And I know I’m eating healthy, without pesticides in my food.
By Margaret Hanan, Rockville Centre
No bottled sauce for me will do
No Prego, Francesco or Ragu
Sweet basil, tomatoes and garlic I sow
And add to that some oregano, too
Why work so hard? Why till and hoe?
No need to ask, I think you know
My sauce tastes best with plants I grow!