Yesterday evening I came home from work after getting a few groceries and saw that a few of my tomatoes have started to turn orangy-red. This is very exciting. This is the first year I have grown tomatoes on my own and it’s been an overwhelming success so far. Last yeah I grew a few herbs in pots, cilantro and had fabulous success with jalapeno plants. Unfortunately, I made the poor decision to plant sunflowers around the back edge of my little garden plot, and they grew so high that they blocked the sun for some of the other plants and I couldn’t reach the top of them. They were outrageous.
This year I stuck to veggies, but after a few weeks of good weather and the every-third-day downpour, the five small tomato plants I bought were starting to crowd out the nearby cayenne, arbol, green bell and anaheim peppers I had planted. I moved a few pepper plants and started staking my tomatoes. Being a suburban-raised person on the front edge of the personal computer age, I knew very little about gardening of any sort before buying my own home two years ago.
I do remember my grandma once had tomato plants growing in her sunroom that reached heights of eight feet. Mine aren’t that tall, but they sure are fruitful. Every day when I go and look at the plants I am shocked at new bunches. Most are still green and firm, but a few are starting to change color, and yesterday I devoured my first personally home-grown tomato with some fresh mozzarella and basil (also from my garden) on crackers. Yum!
My vegetable garden is probably eight or nine feet square. It’s sectioned off with concrete bricks and raised slightly above ground level at the corner of my backyard. I inherited it from the previous occupants or perhaps the ones before then and I am extremely thankful for the gift. Despite it’s size, I plan to pack it full of interesting produce every summer. This year I bought four tiny eggplant starts at the farmers market and two of them are huge (the other two were unfortunately a little anemic after being shaded by the eggplant and tomato plant leaves). And in addition to having no idea how many tomatoes a tomato plant would produce, I had no idea how many eggplants one would get from an eggplant plant(?). I will be doing a lot of stirfrying as well as experimenting with eggplant parmesan, eggplant hummus (baba ganouj) and any other recipe I can find for eggplant.
My relatives are joking that I am going to sit in front of the house and sell my vegetables, but I wouldn’t sell them. I am enjoying being able to pick fresh mint, oregano, rosemary, thyme and lots of thai basil whenever I want to add to my dishes. It’s quite satisfying to grow even a little of your own food. When I think about moving in the future, I will not choose a house that does not have at least a spot of full sun in the backyard. More likely, I will look for a decent-sized area to grow my herbs, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and branch out into more exotic items like onions, garlic, beans and whatever else I can get my hands on.
Gardening has helped me stay more in touch with nature, appreciate what goes into getting all the food we eat and especially, enjoy the simple pleasure of enjoying something that I made happen (in a way).