Warning: Large amounts of pepper porn ahead. :-)
Over the past couple of weeks, as the weather has turned more seasonable, the gardens have really taken off. Almost all of our plants, both in the container and community garden have fruit on them. Some of the peppers and tomatoes are even starting to ripen. As I noted early, I made the "rookie" gardening mistake of labeling our plants with paper labels, which of course, fell off. I have finally been able to identify all but one of our plants in the garden, and I think the one I can't identify might be a sad cucumber plant - it's not doing all that well.
Not a whole lot to report work wise this week. It's been a lot hotter and sunnier here lately, so we've had to water the peppers in containers more. We've been trying to utilize "waste" water that we would have normally dumped down the drain. We're not talking greywater or anything here, just glasses of water that went "stale", leftover water from adding water to the pot while cooking beans, that kind of thing. But surprisingly, it has reduced the amount of "freshwater" we've had to use for the plants a little bit. We also fed the plants on the porch. We use organic "worm castings", which is just a fancy term for worm poo, but it really works well on the plants and doesn't burn them either. Vermicomposting, or composting using worms, is a great way to reduce your garbage, even if you live in a small space - by turning your "food waste" into healthy plant food. I will discuss this further in the next post in the Sustainable Local Diet Series (which I hope to post sometime this week). Sadly, we have to buy our worm castings, our apartment complex considers composting "trash", though we might be sneaky about it and he it here. Brett just lightly tilled up the soil, added a thick layer of the poo, and created some "aeration holes", using the high tech method of piercing deep into the soil with a chop stick to allow water and (hopefully) food to reach the plant roots quickly.
I really think gardening, the fresh fruits and veggies, and all the critters are what make me look forward to the stiflingly hot summer months, 'cause otherwise, it's just uncomfortable. :-)
Here's the container garden:
Chocolate bell pepper.
Our jalapeno plant. This plant is gorgeous, it really is, it could stand as a houseplant in my opinion, it's very balanced, it's healthy, and the peppers are beautiful.
We finally have some poblanos! We had one early in the season and it fell off in one of the windy bouts we experienced, and then just really didn't do anything until now. Now there are about 6 or so little peppers starting.
Petite orange bell peppers. There are so many peppers on this plant. I can't wait to eat 'em, I bet they'll be sweet.
The Hungarian Wax plant is has a lot of peppers on it as well. I am hoping to pickle these as you would banana peppers, only difference is they'll be spicier. Wahoo!
The "Super Chile". This plant isn't actually doing all that great, it's got peppers on it, but the leaves are dropping off and the color is getting lighter. Not sure what's wrong with it, I thought it might be getting too much water, so we'll see.
We have a serrano pepper ripening. I love red serrano peppers, oh my!
The apartments we live in are kind of old and the decks have seen better days, so they make prime nesting spaces for the little sparrows, finches, and starlings in the area. This little guy has a nest in the top of the porch and we see him regularly. He's gotten used to us and will get quite close. I was able to get to within about 3-4 feet of him with the camera (I zoomed in on him)!
Cayenne peppers are really cool when they ripen. They start out green, turn almost black, then to a neon red, and then the red will soften and they are ready to pick. It looks like these will all be ready at roughly the same time. A co-worker of mine got a dehydrator at an auction and gave it to Brett and I. We're not sure if it works or not yet, but if it does it will make drying peppers a much quicker process. Otherwise, we may be the "interesting" people in the neighborhood with peppers strung across their porch. ;-)
Onto the community garden plot:
Since we stripped that unhealthy looking peppers off the banana pepper plants they have been doing a lot better. They've gotten denser, grown more, and their leaves look a lot better. There are a couple of blooms on them, so hopefully these peppers will have a better chance. Go figure that our six banana pepper plants can't keep pace with the production of, say, one jalapeno plant on our porch.
This is the one I'm not sure what it is. It's not doing very well, but it looks similar to the cucumber plants in other peoples gardens (OPG).
Both of the large squash plants are butternut squash (!!!), this is a good thing, as their shelf life is long and, well, we love them! This is the "small" one.
This is the big one. I actually had to step out of the garden plot to be able to get the whole thing in the picture. It is wound around to the front of the garden already.
A little butternut squash!
This one was little the other day when we spotted it, now it has doubled in size.
One of our new tomato plants, we're not sure what kind it is. Just a standard tomato plant I guess. I think over time, we are going to get into varieties more suited to our climate, you know, when we have a better idea of what the hell we are doing in the garden. :-)
The other new tomato plant.
This roma tomato plant seriously has a lot of tomatoes on it.
Some of them are starting to ripen!
We found out that we have two zucchini plants. I understand these to be very productive plants, so I'm a little nervous, but I have people to seek advice from as to how to preserve things now, so I should be alright...I hope...
The other zucchini plant.
A zucchini! When we spotted this the other day, I believe it was Thursday, it was about an inch long.
Yellow straightneck squash plant (also called "summer squash" I think).
There are two squash really going on here, and a couple "new arrivals" since the last time we were at the garden. It's amazing how quickly things move!
Onto this weeks CSA. I have to say, I will definitely be getting a CSA share again next year. Yes there is some risk involved (which I will discuss in the next Sustainable Diet post), but even with the slow start to the season, the CSA has saved us money, given us local, healthy, organic produce, and it has gotten better with each passing week. We figured it out, and the pile of food you see works about to be somewhere between $5-6. To me, that's a really good deal.
We've got: fresh oregano, red potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumber, a large onion, 3 small onion, green beans, a very large tomato, collard greens, and beets with gorgeous looking beet greens still attached.
Onto the farmer's market booty. We got all this for $22 and it's almost all organic. Wanna know why I'm telling you how much this cost? I'm trying to illustrate the eating with the seasons can be one of the most cost effective ways to eat. This is a lot of food. Had I taken $28 to the grocery store (the total amount spent on this produce) would I have gotten this much organic produce? Of course not!
We've got a bunch of carrots, 3 small tomatoes, 5 small apples, 4 ears of sweet corn, a yellow bell pepper, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, jalapenos, purple bell pepper, black Hungarian peppers, and Yukon gold potatoes.
The black Hungarian peppers taste very similar to Hungarian Wax Peppers except without as much fire and with more sweetness, this according to the woman who grew them. They also happen to be beautiful, so I snapped a few pictures of them.
I'm going to be a rogue "guerilla gardener" and save the seeds from this and the purple bell pepper so I can grow some next year.
Check out the color on this purple bell pepper:
'Til next time.