My gardening roots???

I recently started seeds for paste tomato plants.  I hope to dedicate a row in my garden with 8 nice plants.

I love to use my frozen, peeled whole tomatoes in chili, tomato sauces and soups.  Our tomatoes from last year were just too juicy (aka watery) for cooking so I vowed that I would plant good Italian paste tomatoes this year.  I got some San Marzano seeds.  I can almost taste the delicious sauce they will make. Perhaps I will turn some into sun dried tomatoes as well, and pack them in some good olive oil for a taste of summer when the days get short again.


Yum – good Italian paste tomatoes!

I am half Italian.

That’s probably where I get my love of gardening from, right?

It would be only natural that I got my love of gardening from my Italian father.  Of course he would have had tomatoes and peppers and wonderful fresh herbs and maybe garlic?

All Italian men garden don’t they?

Not my dad!


He was a great guy, handsome and sweet, a wonderful father and a hard worker but he never so much as lifted a shovel in all the days I knew him, and I have heard all about him from before I knew him and he never did then either.  I would tease him that he was the ONLY Italian man I knew who didn’t garden.

My uncles and cousins gardened, one even had a greenhouse so he could grow his beloved figs.  Our Italian precinct captain would bring us tomatoes, peppers and eggplant so we were no strangers to the excellence of home grown produce.  We lived in Chicago and couldn’t exactly be farmers but we did have some yard space and could at least have had a tomato plant or two.


So where did my love of gardening and fresh and organic foods come from?

Beats me!

My mom hated anything to do with the outdoors.  She freckled and burned in the sun and hated heat and humidity.  At one time her parents had a farm but she got out of there and move the city as fast as she could!

029A picture of my mom ‘hamming’ it up in farmer garb.

As far as cooking went she was the queen of convenience.  Nothing made her happier than a new complete- in- the- box meal or a new cooking shortcut.  She was ecstatic the day she discovered already chopped and frozen green peppers and onions.  She never bought a whole onion or pepper again!  Once she went Ragu she never went back!  My dad thought she made homemade sauce for him all her life.  After she died I made spaghetti sauce for him with Ragu and her trick of adding a pinch of sugar. He once remarked to my husband that I learned how to make  homemade sauce from my mom, and I must have been paying attention, because mine tasted just like hers!


Mom and Dad

I didn’t know my paternal grandparents but my maternal Grandmother had lived on a farm before I knew her, and in my lifetime did do some flower gardening.  I remember her beautiful roses at their home in Virginia.  One of my earliest memories of her is following her around in her rose garden as she knocked Japanese beetles off the roses into a can of kerosene.  She showed me how the beetles would eat the rose buds, destroying them before they could open.  For that they deserved to die!

Perhaps that was all the influence I needed or maybe I  am a throw back to some distant ancestor, but as a teen I started growing things in our yard and continued everywhere we have lived.  I had no mentor so learned mostly by trial and error and by reading.  I still don’t think of myself as a great gardener and somewhere on my bucket list is a plan to take the Master Gardener course.

I just know that I love being outside, love feeling the sun on my skin and my hands in the dirt.

I still never fail to be amazed that planting a seed will result in a plant and eventually in food for our table.

A tomato eaten still warm from the sun, a radish pulled from the soil, rinsed off and bitten into, a meal fragrant with fresh herbs, these are pleasures that have to be experienced to be appreciated, they can’t be adequately described.


Spring is finally here, a whole new season of gardening is beginning and I have BIG PLANS!  My paste tomatoes are just the start!

Comment and tell me what you are growing this year.

Do you start from seeds or plants, have a large garden or just a container or two, have been gardening long or just beginning?

No matter, we will have a great time together!







4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Wendy
    May 20, 2014 @ 02:43:17

    So cute. Love those tomatoes. How do
    You make your paste?



    • ruthschickensruthschickens
      May 20, 2014 @ 04:29:56

      Wendy, I plan on using them for sauce, chili, etc.. I just dip them in boiling water and the peel slides right off. Then I put them in freezer bags and freeze them whole. I will probably can some salsa made with them and use a lot of them fresh too. Maybe I should have started more plants!



  2. Steven Criger
    May 19, 2014 @ 11:42:50

    i love the harvest =anything is good = but i especially love the tomatoes!!!! thankis for getting me into gardening.



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