Each year, there are several plants that don't make it into the prime gardening space that is Hectaro Lagrimoso.  And each year many of those plants are entrusted to me to grow in the North Forty.  

Here's how it basically goes:
  • Monica drives over with a flat of tiny seedlings, carefully planted by hand and each marked with a planting stick that displays what food and variety that seedling will become.
  • I leave them in the window and forget to water them until the voice of thy plants crieth unto me from the ground.
  • Appalled (well not so much appalled, more worried what Monica will think of do to me), I pour a gallon of water over them and drown all seedlings.
  • I finally get sick of kids knocking them over/cats trying to dig in them/just generally having them in the window and put them outside.  This generally happens a full two weeks before the last frost.
  • Somehow, the seedlings miraculously survive my abuse and grow much too big for their tiny pots.
  • I ignore this until the plants are rootbound and nearly dead, then I repot them to whatever is on hand, which is generally just a slightly bigger pot. Repeat several times.
  • Somewhere in the process of the repotting step, I forget to put each carefully-labeled stick back with the appropriate plant and so I now know that I have eight different varieties of tomatoes and four peppers, but I have no idea which plant is which. Make a mental note to write them all down.
  • Clearly, I never write them down and I leave the pile of sticks outside.  The Shortlings run off with several; the wind blows others away.  Eventually I forget everything.  Now I no longer know if the plants are destined to become tomatoes, peppers, or something entirely different.  Personally, I'm hoping for money.
  • Because of my maltreatment, I manage to get maybe three tomatoes from my harvest and more Thai peppers than I could ever imagine, which I will never use because I only cook Thai food once a year and Thai peppers don't make good salsa (which I make approximately thirty times a year).
This year, I followed the same basic procedure (why mess with mediocrity?), but one thing I did do was to forgo re-potting to a third-generation-larger pot and instead I put the tomatoes in the ground in the front yard, next to the fence, replacing several of the hedge row plants that didn't survive the winter.   It's the only really good sunny spot on our property and I figured I could stake the plants up to the fence. So now I have a hedge row of tomatoes.  Sure hope those jerks in Oak Park don't drive by my house.

This week I harvested the first round of fruits and veggies (they turned out to all be tomatoes and peppers... sigh... disappointing) and managed to identify most of my items.

These are a kind of currant tomato.  They are each about the size of a small marble... and they are incredibly tasty.

Tomatoes, but if you can identify the variety, you are a better man then I, Gunga Din.  I spent about twenty minutes with a seed catalog the other day and I still don't know.

White peppers.  Hot, but not too hot.  Good for my family members, who unlike me, have more than two working taste buds.

Jalapeño peppers... mmmm.

Interesting story about these jalapeño peppers.  Paradoxically I, being a lover of all things spicy, have never been a big fan of the jalapeño.  My opinion is that it's over-used and under-flavored in American cuisine today and there are way more interesting peppers readily available in American markets that are hotter and tastier... like the habañero or the chipotle.  Plus when you get something with jalapeño at most restaurants, you get that crappy canned/pickled pepper where all the flavor has been systematically removed through processing.  But whatever variety this is that Monica gets is unlike any other I've had.  The flavor is amazing.  This, and the Jamaican Hot Chocolate habañero, were the only specific requests for plants this year that I made when Monica offered to bring me some seedlings. 

Last year when I first started to use the jalapeño peppers from my yield, I naively didn't think to put gloves on before cutting them up for a salsa I was making.  I never bother with precautions such as that, because... I am not a wussy.  But, as it turns out, jalapeños ripened in the sun and picked right off the vine are hotter than any greenhouse pepper picked under-ripe and purchased weeks later in the grocery store.  I got chemical burns over 80% of my hands and couldn't touch anything wet for days without experiencing a new resurgence of burning pain.  If I forgot and rubbed my eye two days later, no matter how many times I'd washed my hands in the interim, I'd need to run for the Visine.  In fact, just to get through the first couple of hours, I poured myself a shallow dish of milk and stuck my hands in it.  

You'd think that would teach me, right?  Well last night when I cut up a couple of jalapeños for salsa, I did the exact same thing.  The stinging pain from my hands woke me up every forty-five minutes throughout the night, just so that my hands could remind me that I have a shorter memory capacity than a goldfish

On the downside, I've learned that Neosporin makes an excellent, but extremely expensive, hand cream.  On the upside?  I have this to look forward to:

Bring on the chips!
Totally worth it.