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  • Writer's pictureJohn R

Mutiny of the Bounty

It’s toward the end of the growing season—sometimes referred to by certain spouses around here as the “stunted season”—and it’s time to inventory the foodstuffs we successfully grew this year in our righteous little piece of planet Earth.

We did have a disturbing plethora of cherry tomatoes, documented here in another thrilling episode of Schiddygarden. But the real abundance of this year’s efforts are so aptly characterized by The Pepper.

The Pepper was the culmination of years of wishful thinking and thumbing through seed catalogs and making exclamations such as, Definitely gotta grow these Katarina Cabbages and Wow! Wouldn’t some Romanian Red Radishes be great? I don’t particularly care for cabbages and radishes, but I’m a sucker for alliteration.

But what I did want, dearly, were peppers. Sweet and mild, hot and tangy, savory and crispy. Bring on the peppers! Salsa! Si! Marinara! Si! Something French! Oui!

So we planted peppers. Poblanos, anaheims, jalapenos, Italian sweet, chocolate bell. If you’ve ever keenly anticipated the birth of your first child or the death of a wealthy relative, you know the hopes and dreams that went into those plantings. Nurtured with relatively good soil and targeted waterings that favored them over, say, any nearby growing thing, the pepper plants rose from seedlings in halting steps, as if timid and unsure. They put out pepper sprouts about the size of a half-used pencil eraser and then quit. Maybe they went on strike, I’ve heard it said that plants communicate more socially than we give them credit for. This despite well-intentioned conversations I had with our peppers that were designed to encourage and enable, using parental entreatments such as, What in the hell is wrong with you?

And finally it worked! We grew The Pepper! Nearly three inches long, sporting a fetching orange-and-viridescent ensemble, The Pepper appeared unbidden in the center of the flower garden and refused to die. Over the course of the summer that plant reached nearly one foot in height as it dangled The Pepper from one spindly arm. I let it linger there well into the autumn, confident that prodigious growth was yet to occur, until finally one day Deb plucked it and set it unceremoniously on the kitchen counter. “We should eat it,” she said without a whole lot of invested emotion, “before some raccoon does.”

So we did. I chopped it up and put it in an omelet with some (delicious) store-bought canned chilis. We are now One with The Pepper.

Our abundance didn’t stop at peppers—goodness no! We also harvest eight—count ‘em eight—green onions. We had them in a salad with some (delicious) store-bought mixed greens, and they tasted very oniony. So let me say with authority, if you haven’t grown and harvested your own food, you are so missing out.

Did we fall short of expectations? Wrong question. Given the amount of neglect and ennui that attends our garden, we should be asking, How is it that our foodstuffs saw fit to survive an entire growing season? Obviously, something went right. In fact, I’m now so pumped up for next year that I’ve already ordered my seed catalogs. I’ve got my eye on some Elegant Elephant Eggplant and Kosmic Kandystripe Kale. Can’t wait!

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