When I was growing up in Brooklyn, my Dad had a fairly lush garden in our backyard. As a kid, I didn't think much of it, but through my adult eyes I now marvel at how lucky I was. Like most houses in Brooklyn, we had more concrete than dirt. Our front yard was defined by an iron fence imbedded in cinder blocks and our driveway was nothing more than a continuation of the paved sidewalk. Our backyard was 1/2 garage, 1/4 cement, and 1/4 boxed dirt. The garden couldn't have been bigger than 10 feet by 10 feet. But my Dad grew vegetables and flowers that transformed our backyard into a paradise every summer. Peppers, tomatoes, and a Filipino gourd called upo were his three main plants. The picture above shows my Dad and me in our backyard about 15 years ago. Those are upo hanging from the canopy.