“I’m the cook,” Jack says stoutly, “and I love to cook out of the garden.” Red and blue ribbons he has won for produce entered in the Middletown Grange Fair (he picked up 25 awards last summer) hang on every wall of the kitchen, attesting to the splendor of his harvest. For years he was content with one simple patch, “homely and prosaic with vegetables in rows like little soldiers — a basic, four-bed rectangle with crisscross grass paths and a strawberry pot at the center.” Then it gradually occurred to Jack that he could be creating visual treats as well, planting vegetables in dramatic clusters rather than in rows, juxtaposing colors, textures, and shapes. He smiles, recounting how a tepee of vining green and red Malabar spinach became neighbor to a patch of orange ‘Turkish Gem’ eggplant (“so shiny it looked varnished”). Multihued ‘Rainbow’ chard contrasted powerfully with “surreal sputniks” of purple kohlrabi, which in turn nestled up to a patch of yellow ‘Roc d’Or’ beans. “This was starting to be fun!” With at least three successive plantings during the spring and summer, Jack was able to play with different designs. And by planting close together, he could pick every other vegetable for cooking without disturbing the picture.