Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: Garden Update #9

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Garden Update #9

The garden has really taken off this past week – the weather has decided to be at least marginally cooperative. We have finally had some hot, sunny days which really seems to have benefited the plants. Now, if the wind and the rain could just stay away for a few days that would be nice.

A bit of sad garden news, the habanero is done, it had to go. As of last week’s update, I informed you all that the plant wasn’t doing to hot due to our excessive organic pesticide incident. Well, it seemed like it might be starting to bounce back at the beginning of the week, it had some new growth and we were both really pleased. Then we noticed it – the aphids, all over the new growth, literally infesting it. And the aphids are getting on our other plants. Around mid-week we noticed an ant, and then it all started to make sense.

I’m not sure how much any of you have studied ants, I haven’t very much myself, but they are fascinating little creatures. They are like humans in many ways, one of which is that they herd livestock. But rather than cows, they farm aphids. They don’t eat the aphids, rather, they consume a substance called ‘honeydew’ which the aphids expel out their backside (pretty gross, eh?). Since the ants rely on the aphids, they keep them protected from predators and, well, in nice and orderly rows.

So anyways, we noticed a large ant on the porch and decided to watch it and see where it went. And sure enough, it headed straight for the habanero. No matter how many aphids we picked off, the ants made sure there were more where that came from. So we decided, since our poor habanero was riddled with bugs, and causing our other plants to become new homes for more aphids, we felt it was best to get rid of the plant. None of the other plants have severe aphid problems and a lot of the problem has been solved by Brett and I being diligent and going out multiple times a day and brushing them off the plants. Apparently, once they fall off the plant, they are unlikely to make it back on it. Their numbers seem to be diminishing since we’ve gotten rid of the habanero and started knocking their pesky butts of our plants.

While I’m sad that I won’t have fresh, homegrown habaneros over the summer, I’d rather the habanero not infest all our peppers. Not to mention, there is a vendor at the farmer’s market I lovingly call ‘The Pepper Guy’, who has plenty of homegrown habaneros and red savina peppers to keep me happy.

Check out the progress of the community garden:

We're going to need to weed again already as soon as the ground dries up a little bit. Seems like that is going to be one of our main chores over the summer.

Check out the container garden:

The serrano pepper start.

New Mexican Chile start.

Banana pepper. It's grown a lot in a week!

Cayenne pepper. There are a lot of peppers already on this plant!

Poblano pepper.

Hungarian Wax pepper. Oddly, this new pepper started growing in the exact same spot as the other one that got blown off in the wind.

And finally, I will end with a wrap up of our grocery trip and this week's CSA. This will probably be my last 'grocery store wrap up' for awhile. I will still post weekly pictures of our CSA, as I think it's nice to show others what to expect from such an arrangement between customer and farmer. However, it is quite a hassle to take pictures of all the food after bringing it home from the grocery store. Not only do we carry all this stuff home from the grocery store, but it takes a lot of time to arrange everything, and honestly, lately I've just been hot and not wanted to deal with it. So, you'll see our CSA stuff, and anything we pick up from the farmer's market.

Organic red potatoes, 2 packages of organic strawberries (yay for California), organic baby Portobellas, our last avocado for a month, ginger root, organic spinach, organic yellow onion, organic garlic, organic peaches (according to the label, they are from somewhere in the US, though isn't Puerto Rico considered part of the US?), organic white button mushrooms.

Habanero, a couple of jalapenos, an organic red bell pepper, lots of tomatillos, and lots of serranos.

This week's CSA: (All organic.) Thyme, asparagus, leaf lettuce, green onions, radishes, spinach, and what we think are collard greens, not entirely sure on this one, other than that they are 'cooking greens' (they were good though, we ate them today).

'Til next time.


VeggieGirl said...

Ahh, so sorry about the habenero :0( But hey, everything else looks great in your garden - hooray!! And I love the CSA load :0)

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

My condolences on the habanero as well. Hope those poblanos turn out for you - those are one of my favorites!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about the habanero, but at least everything else seems to be growing well! You are going to feast this summer!

I will miss your grocery store updates/photos, but I can imagine how annoying and time consuming it must be to photograph everything! I have such respect and appreciation for all of you food bloggers who take the time to blog about and photograph your food--I cannot imagine doing that!

Why is that your last avocado for a month, by the way?


Lizzy said...

Damn those ants... but it's great to hear about "The Pepper Guy", I'm sure you're one of his best customers ;)

Aww, look at all those little peppers! I really wish I could grow something at my place... maybe tomatoes. Anyway, I can only say that I love how everything's so full in bloom on that rather dull looking ground. Nature is fascinating, simple as that! Why else would one get all excited and so fascinated about something green growing out of dirt?

Vegan On Stage said...

hi! i just discovered your blog and its beautiful!!! Your plants look great! I loveeeeee veg gardens.. theres nothing like fresh veggies!!!

I think you giving up addictions is GREAT!!!! Its so hard to deny ourselves with our little cravings, and the fact that you are able to is very admirable.

(Im not sure how you carried around a chocolate bar and never ate it!!! BUT CUDOS!!!)

jessy said...

sadface on the habanero. but everything else is look'n super awesome! and that's interesting about ants - i had no idea! and i learned something new!

man, i'm so jealous of all the CSA goodies! i'm going to have to hit up my farmer's market this saturday and see what deliciousnesses i can snag, too!

Alice (in Veganland) said...

The peppers are so big already! It's a pity that you had to let the habanero go, but at least the others are bug-free!

I commute with the train, you were right, so I'll have loooots of time to read :-)

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Aww, poor little habanero. But it looks like you still have quite a bountiful garden. I'm so excited for my little home-grown veggies to start popping up!

Bianca said...

I would say those are collards...and that banana pepper is soooo freakin' cute!

Catherine said...

I wish I had someplace to garden . . . :(

But yours looks fantastic!! How exciting.

Erin said...

Even with the loss of the habanero, your garden seems to be coming along. I am envious of anyone who has the time or mostly talent to garden.

I think the peach I bought yesterday was from California, which is odd for being in Florida. I guess they're not really growing in Georgia yet?

Cookiemouse said...

That all looks fantastic. You seem to have green fingers. Pity about the habenero.

Jennifer said...

Veggie Girl - Thanks, I look at it this way: I'd rather lose one plant than all of them. Everything is looking good, I'm glad the sun has finally decided to come out for awhile.

The CSA has been wonderful thus far, I can't wait to see what I get each week.

Lisa - :-) It's alright, at least I have the Pepper Guy. I hope they do as well, stuffed poblanos (chiles en nogados, I wanna check out your recipe), poblano sauce, drying them for anchos, ah! Poblanos rock.

Courtney - I sure hope so, everything is looking good so far.

I may start doing it again at some point, or every once in awhile when I get something cool, but on a weekly basis, it got to be too much. The CSA is easy, I just unload the bag, take a picture, and put it away. No arranging to fit everything in the picture, and so on.

There is a panel, I think it's on every page, but at least the main page of the blog that refers to the Chile Chew's Challenge so you can check out her post on it. Essentially, Chile (a cool blogger), is urging everyone to give up an addiction for a month that is only possible because of fossil fuels, namely oil. Well, avocados do not grow in Missouri or anywhere close, and I love them very much, I would say I am addicted to avocados, so that is why I chose them.

Lizzy - I know! I am so sick of the aphids. We thought the aphids were just a 'pepper problem', but them we looked at the chard and broccoli today and they were infested with aphids, it was seriously gross. We've rinsed them and sprayed them with our natural pest remedy, hopefully that will work. But yay for the Pepper Guy, he has been there for me for years now. I always tell Brett he has competition (fyi: the Pepper Guy is a largely overweight elderly gentleman, but very nice).

I wish you could grow something too. I wish I could send you good tomatoes! Nature is amazing, every once in awhile I just stop and look around me, and I know everytime I will find something fascinating. ;-)

Vegan on Stage - Welcome, I'm glad you are enjoying it. I do too, I'm definitely a beginner at the whole gardening thing, but I am really enjoying it and learning a lot.

Oh, don't think I'm too awesome, I have plenty more where that came from. We try a little at a time though. It is really hard, especially addicting things like caffeine.

About the chocolate bar: it was hard, I would remember each afternoon when I got a bit hungry that there was a yummy chocolate bar in my bag, however, I WAS able to have other chocolate, which is probably how I survived. :-)

Jessy - Haha! You are too funny. Ants really are interesting. I still don't want to get too close, not a fan of bugs, but they are such neat little critters. Except when they are causing the destruction of our plants!

I love the CSA and the farmer's market. We were really lucky with the CSA, we are usually too late, but this year we had the money and went to sign up EARLY.

Alice - I know! You'd be impressed to see how much they have already grown since this picture was taken - especially the cayennes.

They aren't entirely bug free, but we are working on that. The stupid aphids lay tons of eggs, so just because it SEEMS like you've gotten them all, apparently doesn't mean you have.

Awesome, I love reading, it makes my commute to and from work some of my favorite parts of the day!

Chocolate Covered - I had to have Brett take it out, I couldn't do it. I really like our little plants! :-(

I'm afraid it could prove to yield quite a bit more than I imagined. However, our surplus is the hungry's gain, since any extra we get we are going to donate to the local food bank. People could really use the food right now.

You have a garden too? Exciting!

Bianca - I thought you might know since you're such an expert in Southern cooking. Any suggestions on what to do with them next time I get them?

The banana pepper is almost half the size of the plant! We think it's devoting all it's energy to growing that one pepper and not getting any taller.

Catherine - I wish you had someplace to garden too! :-( We are lucky that our apartment has a deck and that there is a community garden plot so close to our place.

Thank you, it's been a learning experience.

Erin - It's amazing how quickly they grow. Hahahahaha! I had to laugh when you said talent! I have no idea what I'm doing really. I just pull the weeds, and it has taken me hardly any time. I've only had to go water the community garden plot once because of all the rain we've had.

Aren't peaches wonderful? I've missed them over the winter.

Cookiemouse - Thank you, and thank you - though I have to credit the plants with most of the work, and Mother Nature has made it so I don't even have to water them, just make sure they don't blow away!

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