Gardening & Writing

Before I started indie publishing, I wrote as a hobby. The other night, I got to thinking about it while I was working on the layout of my as of yet, unrealized indoor garden, and had a light bulb moment. I love to write and I’m amazed, stunned, and blissfully entranced that I get to do it as my job. But in my search for hobbies since then, very few things have stuck. I’ve gardened off and on for years and when we moved into our new house nearly three years ago I took it up in earnest. I can’t get down on the ground, so we built things to accommodate my desire to garden. My light bulb moment was that gardening and writing aren’t much different… At the end of the hobby, there’s a finished usable product.

Last year, I had dreams of creating salsa, spaghetti sauce, and pizza sauce as well as my own tomato sauce and canning them. I love fire roasted sauces and salsas way more than regular tomatoey salsas and tomatoes. So, having the ability to make my own just causes a feeling of contentedness and fulfillment. Unfortunately, I had planted my cherry tomatoes in between my big tomatoes and as you have probably guessed they cross pollinated. I ended up not getting hardly any tomatoes above five or six ounces and by the end of the season my cherry tomatoes were quite large for cherry tomatoes.

Part of my desire to make these things is because I don’t actually like tomatoes. I find them too sweet for most of the stuff they are used in. Because of this, I prefer the less sweet and tasty big tomatoes for making salsas and sauces (if you don’t make your own salsas and sauces, most recipes actually call for roma or plum tomatoes for these items). Since, I specifically don’t like sweet tomatoes, I don’t love jarred salsas and sauces. They are okay, but a little bit goes a long way.

After a bit of trial and error, I think I finally found a medium sized tomato to use in mozzarella salad. Last year, I made it a few times with patio tomatoes, which I enjoy sliced on pizza and things, but at 3-6 ounces they aren’t great for making sauces and salsas in any sort of quantity and they are a little soft for my preference when eating them raw. This year while seedling shopping J found a slicing tomato called Little Sicily Slicing Tomatoes and we bought 2 just to try them. They are also in the 3-6 ounce range, so again not great for mass production of sauces and salsas. But it is firmer than most tomatoes and not as sweet as the recommended romas (which also tend to be a softer tomato and texture can be an issue for me).

And I grow jalapenos because I like them ripe. I have no idea why grocery stores in the US (or at least in Missouri) only sell unripe (green) jalapenos. Ripe ones (red) have such a great robust flavor. I think next year, I’m going to need to do my jalapenos differently. I didn’t get many last year and this year my plants are looking a bit scraggly again. I put them in the big box with my large tomatoes (Beefsteaks & Better boys). And despite the fact that my tomatoes were being pollinated without an issue, the first six or seven flowers that bloomed did not get pollinated (withering and falling off as a result). I know jalapenos never get really bushy, but in the past I’ve had much bushier plants than I’ve gotten the last two years. Last year, I think I got fewer than 40 jalapenos all year off 5 plants. Now, I’m finally getting jalapenos (although I did pollinate two of them myself), but it’s still not blooming as I expect and obviously I’m still having some issues getting them pollinated.

What was the point of this post again? I had a brilliant idea when it started, but it went away as I explained why I dedicate so much garden space to a fruit I don’t really like.

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