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A walk through pepper-plant lane

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Before I begin my early-morning walk, I check my five Laparie pepper plants to see how they are progressing. Two of the five are on target and have reached 30 inches in height. I baby the Laparie along because I have had 6-foot pepper plants for the past seven years. Hopefully, they will have attained 6 feet and be loaded with peppers in late September.

The pepper plants are interspersed among the geraniums in front of my house. This brings to mind the advice my father Giovanni often gave me. He said, “Forget planting flowers because you can’t eat them, plant vegetables instead.”

There was one exception to his rule, because he did eat the beautiful orange-yellow zucchini flower, which my mother fried in egg batter, during the Great Depression.

Continuing my walk, I stop to visit with my neighbor, John Osso, who was working in his garden. Without reservation, this was truly the most beautiful garden I have ever seen. It was reminiscent of my father’s Great Depression East Side survival garden only more verdant.

John had just dug out his garlic, and some of the bulbs were the size of baseballs. His pepper and tomato plants were loaded. Green patches of different varieties of lettuce seemed to be just waking up and lifting their dew-laden leaves skyward. John has a real green thumb backed by years of experience.

Later in the week, my grandson, Michael Krieger, stopped over. I showed him my few pepper and tomato plants. I pointed out that yellow flowers on tomato plants produce green, red and yellow tomatoes, while the white flowers on pepper plants also produce green, red and yellow peppers. I said, “Michael, there is more to life than sport; so stop and at least smell the vegetable flowers, once in a while.” Grandpa’s food-for- thought advice.

Michael J. Lacivita is a Youngstown retiree and member of the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame and the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.