Her garden is really growing

HOT HOUSE tomatoes as grown by Andrea.

My column, “Am’s View,” debuted one year ago this month. Even though it has been challenging, I believe that my writing has grown and blossomed since my first article.

The opportunity came to me, by an acquaintance, via email, “Are you, by any chance, a writer-type?” I was completely caught off guard and had to read this question multiple times. Was he addressing me, or did he add this to my email mistakenly?

I never thought of myself as a writer, although I did get second place in an essay contest in the 6th grade. If I remember correctly, the contest prompt was “How would you change the world if you were President?” Sadly, I do not remember what I wrote or how I would change the world. However, I remember attending an award ceremony and being terrified as I read my essay in front of the audience.

The question, “Are you a writer-type?” had me contemplating if I WAS, and at the same time, doubting if I was capable of transferring my thoughts, opinions, and or experiences into a column that people would WANT to read.

I mulled over this opportunity for days before sharing it with my husband and daughter. And after a quick chuckle, then a brief discussion, and, of course, their support, I decided to accept this new, challenging role.

This new role was another opportunity to feed my volunteering addiction and step outside of my comfort zone. Because, honestly, writing does not come easily to me. It IS a challenge; thinking of ideas and following through with a story has been difficult. But, despite this obstacle, I remain diligent in my effort to write a genuinely honest and engaging column.

As I started writing, I realized this new task provided me with a platform to introduce myself by writing as genuinely as possible. And, along the way, I developed a process that allowed me to connect my thoughts in a heartfelt, sincere, and honest way, staying true to who I am.

After spending numerous days thinking about the topic of my debut piece, I grabbed my laptop, opened Word, and started typing about my newest obsession

— growing tomato plants by using slices of an old tomato.

So, to commemorate the milestone of  “Am’s View,” I decided it was the perfect time for an update on the progress of my tomato plants, garden, and the green thumb that I finally earned.

My debut article ended with me planting SEVEN slices of an old Roma Tomato in seven empty flower pots and waiting patiently for the plants to sprout.

Of the SEVEN Tomato slices that sprouted, I currently have one thriving Roma tomato plant. This plant has survived the winter, all my trimmings, and the bothersome fat green worms and other insects that feast on its leaves.

This plant has given me approximately one dozen small but tasty tomatoes. I know it’s not an abundance of tomatoes, but it’s more than I ever expected.

Currently, there are EIGHT tomatoes of varying sizes growing and ripening rapidly. In addition to my Roma Tomato plant, I have ONE Cherry tomato plant with THREE tiny tomatoes, as well as ONE Hot House tomato plant with TWO medium-sized tomatoes. I check my tomato plants daily, and I’m always surprised and delighted when I discover a new tomato growing out of a flower.

As a result of my tomato success, I decided to plant a whole cayenne pepper and slices of jalapeno. I’m pleased to report that I have a cayenne pepper plant filled with rich red peppers, as well as a jalapeno plant with FOUR deep green, slow- growing peppers.

I am also growing yellow squash, green onions, and a lemon cucumber, all given to me by my neighbor from her garden. Yes, the same neighbor whose dad was the “Gardening Genius.” If having a green thumb is hereditary, she clearly got that gene.

This new role has been fun and rewarding but also demanding and stressful. Like my tomatoes, it has enabled me to grow and thrive, despite the various stresses and challenges.

In the end, my experience planting slices of fruits and vegetables has given me the confidence to work in the garden and earn Green Thumb status, finally unearthing my natural talent for gardening. Just as taking on the role of columnist has unlocked the potential of my writing abilities.

Thanks to my readers for taking the time to read my column, nurture me, and help me grow. Now, it’s time to start sowing the seeds of ideas for my next article.

“Am’s View” by Andrea Palladino Perez, is indeed one year old. Many more columns to come, we hope.

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