The First Tomato

There’s something amazing about tending a garden. Watching plants grow (and knowing you haven’t killed them) is kind of an incredible feeling. Despite the drought here, I’ve kept my garden growing strong, and this week I noticed the first red tomatoes on the vine. I’ve been getting about one Juliet tomato every day this week. Not quite enough for a salad, but enough to pop in my mouth right after picking. I relish these little moments in life.

Forgive the quality of this shot. I was too excited to grab my real camera.

I’m still getting the hang of the gardening process. I used to watch my mom pull weeds in her garden as a kid. Now it’s my turn to pull weeds and tie plants to stakes to keep them from blowing over. My mom’s garden was, and continues to be, one of the prettiest on our street. Here’s a photo of it my dad sent me recently. We don’t get tulips like those here in Texas.


This Mother’s Day weekend, I’ll be far away from home. But I’ll tend my garden and think of my mother and all the flowers she has made grow strong and beautiful with the careful touch of her nurturing hand.

Brocco-lies

A while back, I told you about my attempt to start a garden. I planted lettuce, kale, swiss chard, some herbs and brussels sprouts. Or what I thought were brussels sprouts. The plants are all still alive and well; however, the brussels sprouts I’m growing don’t look like brussels sprouts. And after some more careful examination this week, I realized I’m actually growing broccoli.

I had spent days trying to convince myself that I was growing some sort of dwarf upside-down brussels sprouts.

I was duped. I’m not sure how this labeling error happened. It’s like the plant people knew I was a novice and tricked me. OR MAYBE I really was sold brussels sprouts, and I’m just such an amazing gardener, I tricked them into believing they were broccoli. Either way, I’m delighted that I didn’t kill the things.

Life has such subtle ways of reminding me that things don’t always turn out how I think they will. Unexpected surprises can pop up in the strangest of places.

Sometimes though, things are exactly as you’d expect them to be. Case in point: Helena Bonham Carter at the Golden Globes (photo not taken by me, of course).

Either way, my dinner tonight was particularly delicious. It’s scary, actually, how much better home-grown vegetables are than mass-produced food.

And with that, I’m going to go eat some more sauteed kale and what I sure hope is broccoli.

If it isn’t…. it’s been nice knowing you.

Finding the Secret to Gardening

I haven’t a clue how to garden, but I’m working on a story for Texas A&M right now about their community garden. They have these amazing gardens on campus, part of which are designed to feed the hungry. In the process of working on this article, I found out about a plant sale on campus where herbs and small vegetable plants were on sale for dirt cheap (pun intended). I’m talking basil plants for $2 and lettuce plants for a buck!

I felt the little green leaves calling to me as I stood among the black plastic trays taking photos. Having tried before but failed, I had to buy some and re-try my hand at gardening. Maybe Texas will prove a better place for my green thumb to blossom. Aren’t gardens to vegetarians who like to cook the equivalent of what giant stereo systems are to frat guys who like party? So, I picked out some lettuce plants, some basil, rosemary, swiss chard, artichokes, and brussels sprouts, and set out to meet my destiny.

Little box, big dreams

Technically, this should come easy to me. My mom’s mother, my Baba, has a yard that is a wonderland of fruit trees and plants. She lives in a not-so-great neighborhood, but her house has always been a tiny oasis in that area: she grows perfect tomatoes, prize-winning-pie-worthy cherries and berries that I’ve never even heard of.

Naturally, my mother has also inherited this tendency. She frequently brings home plants she’s found on the side of the road. The leaves on these discarded shrubs are shriveled and brown, but somehow, my mother’s magic touch will turn them verdant, ready to live again. We had so many plants (many of which were “saved” from the garbage truck) at my home growing up that my friends could identify our house by all the foliage in the window–they even began referring to our living room as “the jungle.”

This weekend, Patrick is going on a boy’s weekend, and I’m going to try to plant a garden. Wish me luck, friends. I hope I don’t wind up killing these beautiful little plants. If you have any advice, feel free to share it here. Lord knows, the world doesn’t need any more dead plants on the side of the road, and my mother doesn’t need any more plants in her living room.