Caliente: Evolution of a Garden

When we first moved to our house 24 years ago, we decided to put in a garden. Being young and energetic, we dug up half of the yard and planted a lavish garden with 14 boxed beds. Growing the standard garden favorites, we enjoyed cucumbers, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cantaloupe, peppers and even corn. By the time the squash vines borers decimated the squash and zucchini vines we were secretly happy because we had eaten so many of them we were tired. The cantaloupes were small producers but we got a few and the same for the corn. The tomatoes, however, we’re prolific producers! The Better Boy variety were so big, one slice would cover your bread.

Our first garden
Our first garden

After about 4 years we converted the number of boxed beds to 7 and concentrated on growing mainly tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, adding in some hot pepper varieties. Our enthusiasm soon waned and we returned the garden to lawn.

Garden #2 - Less variety, just as much work
Garden #2 – Less variety, just as much work

About seven years later, after my husband retired, he wanted to garden again. We planted a small plot with peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. The rabbits ate the bottom of the tomatoes before could pick them and the bees cross pollinated the sweet peppers with the habanero peppers. We gave up after two years.

Garden #3 - a feast for the rabbits and birds
Garden #3 – a feast for the rabbits and birds

Another seven years passed and I came up with the idea of building planter boxes to put on our deck so we could grow a few veggies. This time we were going to outsmart the birds and rabbits! The boxes were off the ground keeping the rabbits away and I made a framework of wire and netting to keep the birds from pecking holes in the tomatoes. We essentially put our veggies in plant jail. After four years of experimenting with various types of tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, we have now limited ourselves to just peppers, half hot and half sweet. This year we are growing jalapeño, chili, poblano, Hungarian hot wax, ethem, and of course, habanero.

Plant Jail
Plant Jail

What do we do with all those hot peppers? Make salsa, of course! My favorite is a combination of pineapple, jalapeño, fresh cilantro, and lime juice, all crushed together in a food processor and served chilled. It’s sweet and fiery at the same time. The other peppers get the same treatment with a few added ingredients to make your traditional hot salsa.

Poblano and Ethem
Poblano and Ethem


A little bit of everything including the chocolate bell peppers.
A little bit of everything including the chocolate bell peppers.

I wish my blog had smell-o-vision so you could breathe in the fiery aroma from these garden delights! Caliente!


3 thoughts on “Caliente: Evolution of a Garden

  1. It is amazing how the weather and the animals can bring you down when you work so hard on a garden. I am so glad Pam made planter boxes for us because our yield is so much better than before and a lot easier to deal with.

  2. Great story! 25 years ago, we had (2) 8X8′ beds for Lee and Erin to experience gardening. Enthusiasm waned in the first month. For me, tomato plants every year 🙂

    1. You must have a way to keep the critters away. Birds poked holes in the top of the tomatoes and the rabbits ate the bottoms. Not much left for us.

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