Going Green… And Red, Too

There’s nothing more enticing to the aspiring home cook than growing your own food, be it little things like herbs, or whole vegetables of impressive proportions. Guaranteed to be organic and pesticide free, who wouldn’t love to just run outside and grab some cucumbers and sweet bell peppers to finish off a salad? Of course, I’m starting to get to feeling that it’s a whole lot easier in concept than in practice, as my past experiences seem to show. Nonetheless, as spring had just begun to turn buds into flowers a couple months ago, I still constructed elaborate plans to grow all variety of vegetative matter, from eggplant to melons to zucchini, nothing was off limits to my imagination. Thankfully, my mother stepped in and brought me back down to earth before I had the opportunity to tear up our entire lawn to grow another healthy crop of weeds. Reality is a harsh place to live, but unfortunately there aren’t many options on that matter, so it seemed that my beautiful garden would still be doomed to exist only in my head.

Resigned to the fact that the only edible plant I could tend would be the wild chives that planted themselves before we even moved in, I tried to no avail to forget the garden of my dreams. Perusing the wares of a new wholesale store to gather baking supplies in bulk, my hopes were instantly rekindled upon sighting the gardening section. Including all the usual suspects like potting soil, little trowels, and netting, I didn’t expect to find much, but some how my greatest expectations were surpassed by a simple display that seemed to leap out at me. Not just mysterious seeds in hermetically seal packages, but pre-sprouted plants filled its shelves, complete with tiny leaves and even a few newborn buds! A myriad of possibilities suddenly spread before me, there was no way I would be leaving the store empty handed.

Within days of re-potting my baby buds, one upsetting but not entirely shocking event took place: Two out of four were reduced to mere twigs and died as soon as their roots hit the soil. Okay, here’s where I admit that gardening is not my forte. I adore plants and flowers, but for some reason they just don’t seem to care much for me! The third sprout hung on for dear life, reluctantly putting out the occasional flower, but the fourth… The fourth plant was the shocker of the bunch. Some how, some way, it managed not only to survive, but to thrive. Before long little green berries developed where flowers once stood, and they began to swell in numbers.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. Fully expecting that any day these miraculous fruits would turn black and expire, it was astounding to discover the first little berry beginning to take on a faint blush. I could scarcely believe my eyes- Was I dreaming again? I held my breath for fear of disturbing them and snuck out quietly, hoping furtively that my presence hadn’t jinxed them like all of my other homegrown foods.

At this point, I was beside myself with joy. Finally, finally, something actually grew! Luscious ruby red strawberries sat plump on their long stems, so anxious to be picked that they were practically bursting with juice. After all of that waiting, I didn’t need any further prodding and set out the other day with a big bowl to collect my bounty in. Perhaps I was a bit overzealous when selecting the container, as the full crop didn’t even cover the bottom! Still, just having that small handful of jewel-like strawberries made my heart pound with joy. Marching back inside with them, my quick footsteps seemed to be saying “I! Grew it! I! Grew it!” echoing my excitement.

Popping one into my mouth, I had to admit that perhaps it wasn’t the absolute sweetest, most delicious strawberry I had ever tasted, but it was in a whole different category than those mushy, chemically treated fruits from across the coast. It really gives a whole new face to “fresh” foods, and I’m just ecstatic that I could finally taste it for myself. Rewarding like nothing else, I honestly think that everybody should try growing fruits and vegetables for themselves. If luck stays on my side, our garden may even be graced by some Japanese cucumbers in the not so distant future…

So tell me, what are you guys growing this year?