My Vegetable Love: A Journal of a Growing Season

Overview

On an August day in 1994, Carl Klaus stood with his basket overflowing, gazing at his large vegetable garden. Several times each year, Klaus asks himself why he does it. But none of the obvious answers convey what he goes through in the garden or why he goes through it, day after day, month after month, year after year. In an effort to make sense of it, he resolved to take stock of his garden and his gardening every day during the gardening year of 1995. The result is this completely delightful memoir of life in ...
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My Vegetable Love: A Journal of a Growing Season

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Overview

On an August day in 1994, Carl Klaus stood with his basket overflowing, gazing at his large vegetable garden. Several times each year, Klaus asks himself why he does it. But none of the obvious answers convey what he goes through in the garden or why he goes through it, day after day, month after month, year after year. In an effort to make sense of it, he resolved to take stock of his garden and his gardening every day during the gardening year of 1995. The result is this completely delightful memoir of life in the back yard, a new gardening classic. But this book is about more than a garden - it's about all of the things that influence this gardener: the weather, the neighborhood, his wife's possibly recurring cancer, the changing nature of the academic community, his impending retirement, his children, his grandchildren; about the last months in the life of his twenty-year old cat; about his dog, his gardening friends, and all the other human and animal inhabitants of his gardening world. A love of good food and of cooking is a special and delicious feature of this memoir. (Klaus spices things up in the kitchen as eagerly as he tends things in the garden.) Both he and his wife are clearly imaginative and impassioned cooks, turning everything he grows into memorable meals that he vividly describes throughout the book.
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Editorial Reviews

Smithsonian
A gardener's touch is not required for enjoying a book that so wholeheartedly celebrates friendship, love, pets, the elements of family, academia, cooking, eating and of course, gardening. . . . Bon appitit and good reading.
BookPage
A steamy romance of vegetable gardening.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Home gardeners, cooks and nature lovers will savor this delightful account of the 1995 growing season in Iowa. Klaus, director of the nonfiction writing program at the University of Iowa, kept a daily record, March through November, of his large vegetable garden. Spring in Iowa City was unusually cold and wet; Klaus depended heavily on row covers to protect his young plants. Summer brought heat, drought and "critters"squirrels, woodchucks, opossums and deer. Then, a bountiful harvest that extends to Thanksgiving. The book goes beyond tending a garden; Klaus interweaves personal details and concerns of his daily life: he writes about neighbors, his wife's probable recurring cancer, the last weeks leading to the death of his 20-year-old cat, generational conflicts in his department at the university and the meals he concocts from his vegetable bounty. Delectable. Oct.
Library Journal
Klaus, an experienced gardener and director of the nonfiction writing program at the University of Iowa, took a research leave in 1994 to write about his vegetable gardening activities in Iowa City from March through November. Explaining why he gardens, Klaus records daily not only the planting, tending, and harvesting of his garden but also the everyday human influences family, colleagues, friends, pets that often affect a gardener. For Klaus, vegetable gardening is part of a daily routine that links many experiences in the life of a writer, husband, and father. This thoughtful book is recommended for popular gardening collections.Dale Luchsinger, Athens Area Technical Inst., Ga.
Kirkus Reviews
A serenely informal gardener's companion.

Klaus, who was director of the nonfiction writing program at the Univ. of Iowa before his recent retirement, is a specialist in the personal essay. His book collects almost a year's worth of brief daily reflections on his Iowa vegetable garden, beginning on March 16, 1995, and concluding on November 24. Unlike other practitioners of the popular garden journal genre, Klaus isn't beguiled by prettiness, either as a grower or as a writer; his pragmatism is reassuringly free of adjectival abandon. This is about as elated as he ever becomes: "The most important news of the day is that I finished transplanting the tomatoes this afternoon." Similarly down-to-the-ground are his notes on marauding groundhogs, never-ending rain, and 100-year-old manure, suggesting common frets and pleasures without rhetorical swoons. Reading him is comforting because he invokes a too easily forgotten seasonal rhythm, page after page, and also because Klaus is very good at introducing human mortality into nature's timelessness as a consistent sidelong subject. He never whines, not even when discussing the serious illnesses of dog, cat, and wife. After some hours spent gardening, dinner is always waiting, and this—virtuously, yet not prissily—seems like enough: "Bloody Marys made with our own homemade tomato juice, to go with . . . salmon mousse from a poached Atlantic fillet, the organic endives from California (garlic-stuffed, pimento-stuffed, and Italian-spiced greens), and pumpernickel rye from the Lithuanian bakery in Omaha."

Any gardener, true-blue or armchair variety, will want to settle down and read Klaus.

From the Publisher

“[A] steamy romance of vegetable gardening.”—BookPage

“A gardener's touch [is] not required for enjoying a book that so wholeheartedly celebrates friendship, love, pets, the elements of family, academia, cooking, eating—and of course, gardening…Bon appétit—and good reading.”—Smithsonian

“A lovely memoir. Beautifully written, tender, and wise.”—Gerald Stern

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395785874
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 10/10/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.51 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Carl H. Klaus, founding director of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program, professor emeritus at the University of Iowa, and coeditor of Sightline Books: The Iowa Series in Literary Nonfiction, is a diarist, essayist, and author or coauthor of several textbooks on writing. His nonfiction includes My Vegetable Love (Iowa paperback 2000) and its companion Weathering Winter (Iowa, 1997) as well as Taking Retirement: A Beginner’s Diary and Letters to Kate: Life after Life (Iowa, 2006).

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