Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: Garden Update #13

Monday, June 30, 2008

Garden Update #13

A couple of notes before I start the Garden Update: First, thank you to all who commented on my last piece (and any musings piece for that matter), talking about issues of importance to me, touchy or otherwise, is therapeutic and always a learning experience, I hope you all feel that you get something out of our rants as well. I always hope for more dialogue, but understand that this is not why many of you come to this blog. However, if you have opinions (which I know you all do), whether you have something to add to the conversation or you disagree, please, please, don't be afraid to comment here. That is what we want when Brett and I rant or muse, we aren't just trying to put our opinions out there. You will not be chastised here, and rude or profane commentary will not be allowed, basically, what I am saying, is that if you have something to say, you have a safe outlet here, even if you disagree with us, we won't take it personally.

Secondly, please check out the challenges on the right side of the page, and seriously consider partaking in one. These challenges are an excellent way for us to reduce our consumption and live better with less. Doing these things in 'challenge' form is a good way for folks to get together to pledge to do something, be there for one another as a support and accountability network, and give tips and hints to make these challenges easier. The end result is simple, to reduce consumption and increase awareness, which doesn't end at the culmination of the challenge, at least my hope is to continue, beyond the challenges, to limit my consumption of the things that I minimized during the challenges.

Enough about all that though, on to the Garden Update and a wrap-up of this week's CSA/Farmer's Market Booty.

My lesson of the week this week is "respect and appreciate your farmers, they work very hard." As I noted in the last Garden Update, due to the seemingly constant rain we've gotten in the Midwest this year, the weeds and grass seem to be thriving, while the crops growth is stunted due to excess moisture. Yes, things are moving along, but I just had to note that the grass and weeds seem to be doing much better all around than any of the crops. So anyway, some serious weeding was in order and we needed to put down a much thicker layer of hay.

Now, our community garden is humble, we don't have the best tools and equipment. So weeding the garden involved Brett loosening up the grass and weeds with a half broken "Garden Weasel", and me scraping off the hay and broken plant detritus with a hoe. I also used the hoe to get the roots of the grass. This was hard work seriously, hard work. Our garden plot is small, and we were only at this for about an hour, but can home sore, and I have blisters and chafing all over my hands despite having worn gloves. I can't imagine what it's like to tend to larger areas even with equipment.

Which reminds me, I've been doing some research on permaculture, and though I can't do much now as we don't own our own place and we only have so much liberty with what we can do at the community garden, this is eventually what I would like to do. The positives seem to be endless with this type of agriculture, you work with the soil, with nature, with the plants, to create a living organism that will eventually be able to take care of itself. And small areas of land dedicated to permaculture can yield surprising quantities of food.

The container garden is doing excellent, well, aside from the broccoli, but more on that in a moment. The peppers haven't had to experience the negative effects of 'too much rain' this year, and the mild summer thus far has meant that not only do the plants have optimal growing temperatures, but between the mild temps and the Keep Yer Cool Challenge, we haven't had the window air conditioner running, drying out the soil.

We finally figured out what was stunting the growth of the broccoli and causing the leaves to yellow. Though we didn't find out until the culprits hatched and began eating the broccoli plants. The culprits were caterpillars, which we have removed. I think the broccoli might be beyond hope this point, but you live and you learn, right?

Here is some of their handy-work:

We also got our first peppers this weekend. I only got a picture of one, but we picked all the large peppers off of the banana pepper plants at the Community Garden. The pepper plants there are so short and look very unhealthy, Brett and I thought that maybe taking the peppers off would give them more energy to devote to plant, not pepper growth. We'll see.

This little guy went in another batch of our traditional vegan refried beans this weekend. The beans turned out super tasty. We love this recipe for refried beans as it's incredibly versatile. This week we plan on having bean burritos, taco salad, and Local Veggie Burritos again with the huge batch I cooked up over the weekend.

Check out the container garden:

Container banana peppers, moving along.

Cayenne peppers going nuts. I hope these start to ripen soon. I plan on dehydrating them and making ground cayenne and crushed red pepper out of them.

This chocolate bell pepper has grown so much this week!

Some pictures of all the Hungarian Wax Peppers. The last in the series of three pictures is the tiny pepper that was peeking out from behind a bloom last week. They don't stay little long, do they?


I am still impressed that we were able to keep this serrano pepper plant alive over the winter and now it's fruiting again. It's amazing what a little care and pruning can do. It already looks like its set to exceed last year's yield.

Super Chiles. These guys will be used in the same manner as I use the cayenne peppers.

Orange bell peppers.

And the Community Garden:

Notice the caterpillar on the plant in the last two pictures? I didn't when I was there taking a picture of the tomatoes! We're going to go back down to the garden after I get off work today to check on the tomato plant. If caterpillars are snacking on the leaves, we will need to relocate them elsewhere.

Continuing my fascination with OPGs, here's a neat development we found this week. The picture makes this look really big, but it's actually about the size of a small lemon. We think it's a baby watermelon. Cute, eh?

This week's CSA included: collard greens, lettuce, spinach, more leaf lettuce, a cucumber, a zucchini, green onions, green beans, beets (no greens this time) and new potatoes. It keeps getting better and better each week!

And the rest of the farmer's market booty includes: local cherries (we found another purveyor!), some gorgeous baby kale, broccoli, fresh garlic (picked the day before we got it!), more green beans, and a summer squash.

'Til next time!


VeggieGirl said...

Great challenges!!

To say (type) that your garden is doing excellent is an understatement - it's really flourishing!! Nice work!!

Alice (in Veganland) said...

How did you fit so many peppers in one single post? It's amazing that you've achieved so much in 13 garden updates!

Happy Herbivore! said...

ORGANIC perfection

Anonymous said...

How can such cute little things be so evil on the veg? :) Do we all get together for a big harvest post party?

Erin said...

So many veggies! And "OPG" made me laugh a little. I'm interested in anyone that can grow plants!

Chile said...

Lovely peppers. Yum, yum, yum!

Will you dry any or use them all fresh?

selina said...

im so jealous of your romas! ive got a few but you have tons. i picked one of my fooled you peppers on friday. and your container garden looks like its doing really well.

that watermelon is cute! ive debated about planting them in my yard. i have the seeds but its probably too late now! oh well.

p.s. i loved your last post. i just didn't have time to comment.

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Veggie Girl - They are good challenges, I am very thankful for the good folks who host them.

Aw, thanks, it has really started to progress in the last few weeks.

Alice - Haha, I was wondering the same thing about the pepper plants. Sorry for the excessive amount of pepper pictures though, I guess I'm a sucker for pepper porn. ;-)

I was just thinking today how big the plants in the Community Garden are and that they were started from seed! It's also hard to believe we've been doing this for 13 weeks already.

Lindsay (HH) - Yay for worm poop!

Shellyfish - I know, they are cute aren't they! But they sure did a number on that broccoli fast, so they needed to be relocated to somewhere where they could eat greens that weren't our plants!

Haha! I hope I have a big harvest, and if you are ever in the Mid-Missouri area....

Erin - A couple of tomato plants have died, and we accidently lopped off a sad looking squash plant when we were weeding yesterday, so it's getting a little more sparse. But the porch is a jungle!

:-) I think I enjoy the other peoples plants just as much as ours! I bet we check up on them more than they do, we check their progress everytime we visit the garden. And me too, there are some people growing corn there, I am intrested to see how it does.

Chile - Thank you, they are really starting to produce.

The cayennes and super chiles will all be dried and crushed for seasonings. The others, depending on yield, will be used fresh, or pickled, turned into salsa, frozen, or given to friends, family, or the hungry.

Selina - That plant is going CRAZY! We've never actually had very good luck growing tomatoes, though we've only gardened in containers until this year. But when we went, there were literally 10 NEW tomatoes!

Yay! Are they sweet, more like a bell, or do they taste like a jalapeno just not spicy?

Thanks, the container garden has really enjoyed the mild weather.

Isn't it? :-) You should try it, not sure if it's too late or not, just make sure you give 'em plenty of space, looks like the plants get REALLY big.

Thanks! No worries.

Anonymous said...

Your peppers look great! It is such fun to grow things, isn't it?! I am so SO jealous of your watermelon--it is the prefect summer food :o)

Your CSA and farmers market bounty look delicious. The kale and green beans are making me drool!


Liz said...

I LOVE following your garden through pictures. I think it's great how many peppers you are growing. Usually I just do jalapenos and/or serranos, but I've got a few new ones in the mix this year.

Bianca said...

Those teensy peppers are so adorable. At first, I thought they were fuzzy little worms. Ahhh!

Lizzy said...

The always hungry caterpillars... tsk!
I'm impressed by how far you've come! And proud of the work you did! I remember helping my grandma in her garden once... pretty much felt like you guys afterwards!

I'm actually eager to give up a few addictions, too! I'll have to make a list and choose the most important ones. Thanks for providing the links =)

jessy said...

i'm glad the serrano pepper plant is doing well! everything looks great, too! the little watermelon made me smile! :) and your CSA goodies - what a bounty! hooray!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Courtney - Thank you and indeed it is. Aw, that's not our watermelon, just another gardeners plot that had something new and fun growing in it. I actually do not like watermelon, I know, I'm crazy. I'm not a fan of the texure. But canteloupe or the rare, perfectly ripe honeydew, I could eat those any day.

Thanks! That baby kale was amazing. We used it, the squash, broccoli, beans, and such to make an excellent stir-fry with our peanut sauce last night.

Liz - Glad you enjoy it. Haha! I hope Brett agrees with you, they are overwhelmingly hot peppers, and he is stuck sweating at the dinner table. Jalapenos and serranos are so versatile. Anything rare or interesting growing of the pepper variety?

Bianca - Aren't they? I'm surprised everyday when I come home at how big they've gotten and how many news ones pop up everyday.

Nope, the fuzzy little worms were just on the broccoli. :-)

Lizzy - I know! We thought we had gotten them all, but Brett found a few more yesterday.

Aw, Lizzy, thank you. I can't imagine what it's like to have to farm, by hand, a large area, sure couldn't do it in one day.

Thats awesome Lizzy, if you come up with something, you should go sign up for her challenge. And do let me know, I would be so excited to help you in any way possible. These challenges have been amazing, they have given us the skills, support, tips and hints, and the kick in the butt we needed to move in the right direction. Since we've been doing these things, I have felt so much happier, and that I have, at least, some control over how I live my life, and what I leave for those after me.

Jessy - I am truly stoked about that serrano. Not only are serranos (or habanero I can never decide) my favorite pepper, we've nursed this little guy into his second season.

The watermelon made me smile too, I love seeing all the 'baby' peppers, tomatoes, squash, fruit, all so tiny.

The CSA keeps getting better by the week! Can't wait to see what Danjo Farms has for us this weekend!

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

I picked up some delicious kale at my farmers' market this week too! Let us know whether your fresh garlic tastes very different from the grocery store kind.

Cookiemouse said...

Your garden looks fantastic! The pictures are great. I love peppers so the more the merrier.

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Lisa - I hope your kale was as good as the stuff we got. Fresh garlic DOES taste different than what we have gotten at the store. If this makes any sense at all, the flavor was richer, bolder, and deeper, but it didn't have the bitter or acidic quality that fresh, store bought garlic often has. Very much worth the extra money, for the summer, we are switching exclusively to fresh, farmer's market bought garlic.

Cookiemouse - Thank you, I'm actually a little nervous about the Community Garden. We had quite a storm here last night, and had just planted some new tomato starts to replace the one's that we've had die. Hopefully they are alright!

Haha! A fellow pepper fanatic, you'd be happy eating at our place then.

Rural Vegan said...

Oh those broccoli worms are the worst! They utterly destroyed my broccoli a few years ago until I unleashed my chickens on them. I still haven't decided if that was very vegan of me, lol, but the chickens enjoyed it! Your garden is coming along beautifully, you'll be harvesting in no time!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Rural Vegan - I know! And we didn't really notice them until there were tons making a mighty fine meal out of our plants.

Ah, chickens do the trick! This brings up something I have been pondering for awhile. As someone who eats a (mostly) vegan diet, but also wants to do permaculture and have chickens, I'm very curious what you do with your chickens' eggs?

Chile said...

Jennifer, my sweetie and I have discussed the possibility of having chickens at some point, even though we eat a vegan diet. They would be great for keeping garden pests under control and hopefully ticks, too. The eggs could be fed to the dog and bartered with neighbors for other goods.

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Chile - Thanks for responding. I wonder if kitties might enjoy eggs as well...

I never thought about bartering, but that would be perfect, my eggs for your wheat!