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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Today, I ate a green pepper.

Today, I ate a green pepper. 
That would not come as any surprise to any of you that know me well. Despite the fact that I boast that I am a candy freak (which I certainly am), I do eat a lot of vegetables and fruits on a daily basis. Namely, tomatoes and peppers. 
Because of that, and how expensive that can get, I got the idea a couple of years ago that I should probably grow my own. I have this big backyard and not much to really do with it. I am not going to put in some big in ground pool, or a big swing set and sandbox for the kids I will never have (like my parents did in the big backyard I grew up in) or some incredibly landscaped patio. I did build my own deck (which is not quite finished 3 years later, but that is another story. It is functional, so shut up) and I was pretty happy with that. As of today, it is still standing and hasn't crumbled to the ground.  
A few years ago (20 at this point) when I was still single, I lived in a basement apartment in a pretty nice area. My landlady didn't do anything with her big backyard, but the neighbors on the rest of the street did. They were mostly Italians and Portuguese and they liked to grow peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. So, being that they liked me, they gave me enough to eat the whole winter if they had stayed fresh. I ate as many as I could. 
Now, I am not knocking them, but if they can do it, how hard could it be to grow these? In reality, it isn't.   
Two years ago I set out to start trying as I mentioned above. I took a few pots that were left over from flowers we bought the year before and I took the seeds I had been collecting from the peppers and mixed them in with some potting soil, regular soil, water and put them out where I thought they should grow. They never did. I couldn't figure it out. It was possible that they didn't get enough water, as it was an extremely dry summer and I wasn't diligent enough about taking care of that. Also, they weren't in the ground, so maybe that had something to do with it. In any event, I spent the whole fall and winter buying my peppers in the supermarket.   
However, I still kept collecting the seeds every time I ate a pepper and had thousands of them in a container when spring came again. This time, I just tried to keep it simple, likely how the Italian and Portuguese ladies did. I tilled the soil clean, got rid of the weeds, watered it for a few days to make sure it was in good condition, and then just dumped the seeds on the ground, raked them to spread them out and then watered them. The next day, I added more soil on top of that and watered them again. Each day or two, if it didn't rain, I would water them enough to keep them moist but not flooded. Then, I hoped for the best, but still kind of expecting myself to fail because I had the previous year. I had never grown anything in my entire life, so why should I expect that I could do this? Anyway, I just kept at it. Cost me nothing and I figured I would just see if it would work.
 I went away for a week in late June, and before that, I had seen some sprouts start to come up. But nothing substantial. It had been well over a month, so I had no idea if that was going to lead to viable plants and eventually peppers.....and actual eatable food. Then when I got back, it was obvious that it had rained a lot (which is no surprise because it did on just about every day of my week away wherever I was) and the plants had bloomed and some were very tall. Still, no sign of actual peppers blooming. 
Weeks went by, almost all the plants got very tall but still no sign of the peppers. Maybe I grew the plants right but the conditions were not proper for the peppers to grow. Then, as I was getting ready to put some of the plants in pots and bring them in the house for the winter to see if they would continue to grow, I noticed some small sprouts on the top of some plants.  Then, I saw one plant that had a full grown green pepper on it, in very good condition, with two or three other significant sprouts starting to grow. 
That was last week. I waited on it to see if it would get bigger. It was a tad smaller than one would expect. It didn't. So, today, I cut it off and I ate it for lunch. It was perfectly green, no rot, and tasted just like a pepper should. The seeds were even a lot fresher and whiter than what I usually see. I suppose that owes itself to the fact that I didn't use any pesticides to grow it and it was picked at its peak freshness.   
So, today I ate a green pepper. One that I grew myself. That probably isn't a big deal to most of you, but to a city kid like me, it was a very big deal. I grew my own food and ate it. That is just something I never thought I would do.   
Now, if I could only figure out how to grow Snickers bars and Ju Jubes in my basement, I will be all set.

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