Continued from here.
Somewhere — coincidentally or not, around the time I left for college and my sister entered high school — the backyard started changing.
First came the disappearance of the experimental fruits and veggies.
Occasionally, my dad tried to grow things like broccoli, cauliflower, or brussels sprouts. Invariably — and even with at least one beagle in the house since I turned nine years old — rabbits consumed these plants each summer. (Alternate explanation: Beagles consumed these plants each summer. I never caught any of them in the act, but — beagles.) At some point — and this may have even been during my last couple of years of high school — he decided not to plant them.
“There’s no point,” he explained once. “I like to enjoy what I grow, and I can’t do that as long as the damn rabbits are eating them all.”
Next came the green beans, I suspect due to structural issues. That is, the beans grew on trellises, which require a certain amount of upkeep. While I was often responsible as a child and adolescent for staining and sealing the structures, I have never in my life actually built a trellis. Dad built some and bought others, and I suspect — like the experimental veggies, but more gradually — the investment was not worth the payout.
Then the hot peppers, though they did not disappear so much as diminish. Fortunately, I know why that is.
Virtually all of the other foods we planted — squashes, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, fruits — were eating foods. That is, one generally eats them directly, whether as a main course or in a salad, dessert, or side dish. The hot peppers — mostly jalapenos, habaneros, and Scotch bonnets — were mostly seasoning foods. We made plenty of chili and salsa — and we ate them relatively hot — but there is still a limit to how many of the approximately one gazillion peppers one can use in any given batch of any given recipe.
We started dry roasting the peppers to preserve them, but that only meant that we had leftover last year peppers next year. Particularly given that hot peppers are harder to give away than zucchini bread or raspberries — in our pocket of the Midwest, apparently way fewer people like spicy foods — so a backstock quickly grew. This, in turn, led to a lesser need for this year peppers.
But even when the explanations made sense, it was sad to see the garden go.