Introducing The Tribune’s new columnist. Andrea Palladino Perez is a long-time resident of the Garden Grove area, a graduate of Cal State Fullerton, wife and mother and active in community affairs. Her column will appear on alternate Sundays. By the way,“Am” or “Ammy” is a family pet name.
I love to eat fruits and vegetables and have often thought about growing my own, but gardening has always intimidated me, partly, because I ‘m not patient enough, I don’t have the knowledge required and full disclosure, I DO NOT have a green thumb or at least I didn’t think I did.
Many years ago, one of my neighbors, who was a “Gardening Genius,” with an obvious Green Thumb, gave me a few of his tomato plants and cages, so, I too, could grow my own tomatoes. He told me where to plant them and how to take care of them, but weeks after planting them, every one of them was dead. I considered myself a failure and since then, I have only been able to keep succulents alive. I know, a succulent is hard to kill, but trust me, it can be done, and yes, I have done it.
One day, while scrolling through Facebook, I saw a video about growing tomatoes from a tomato slice and thought to myself, “How hard can that be? This is definitely something I can do!” So, with nothing but time on my hands, I decided to give it a try.
Luckily, I found an old Roma tomato in my veggie basket. So, using my sharpest knife, I made a few slices, planted them in potting soil in an empty flowerpot and waited for a miracle. Lo and behold several weeks later, there was growth! At first, I could not believe what I was seeing. Could my eyes be deceiving me? I had a tomato plant growing.
Every day, I watched, watered, and doted on my plant. Then one day, after lovingly caring for my new growth, I noticed a small, oval, green growth hanging off the plant, my very first tomato! The feeling was overwhelming!!
I continued to lovingly care for that tomato plant like it was my first born; watering, clipping, fertilizing, anything to help promote its growth. Several days later, I notice, another smaller, oval, green growth hanging off my plant… another tomato! But this one looked different because it had a “neat little scoop” off the top of it. Much to my dismay, something was eating my newly born tomato, but what?
That same day, there was an article in the newspaper about insects that eat tomatoes, so I set off to thoroughly inspect my plant and the soil. Yes, I still get the newspaper because I love the feel and smell of the paper and I like to read the print on paper, rather than on the computer or phone, call me old fashioned…
After digging through the dirt, I found what looked like a “slug” and quickly removed it. Could that have been the culprit grazing on my tomato? Apparently not, because over the next couple of days, whatever was living in the dirt or near my plant, had managed to completely eat my small tomato and then it moved on to enjoy my larger tomato. How dare that insect feast on MY tomatoes?? I quickly picked the tomato and let it ripen on my counter. The “neat little scoop” taken by the insect was small enough that I was able to cut that part off, so my family and I could enjoy my first tomato.
Despite the setbacks, I DID it! I was able to grow TWO tomatoes!! Sure, one of my “babies” was eaten by some type of insect but I was still able to enjoy one tomato, and considered this a success!
So, I went back to my veggie basket for an old tomato, got my sharpest knife, made SEVEN slices, planted them in potting soil, in seven empty flowerpots and I am now waiting for more miracles. Maybe I do have a Green Thumb after all.