Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: Garden Update #25 - Summer's Almost Gone (also a great Doors song)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Garden Update #25 - Summer's Almost Gone (also a great Doors song)

25 weeks of gardening already?! It's hard to believe it has been that long, what a ride!

Well, today is officially the first day of fall, which means the outdoor gardening season is almost over. It's not all bad though, we've got gorgeous weather; here in the Midwest (and many other places) the landscape goes aflame with various shades of color as the leaves turn in preparation for winter; there is an abundance of potatoes and other winter veggies at the market; hot tea is fun again; cool weather = sweaters and cozy evenings with books; and there is football (I have a fantasy football team this year - I'm the only female in my league, I'm hoping I "whoop up" so I can show 'em that the ladies know their football).

As I mentioned in last week's garden update, we had to bring our container plants inside due to the apartment complex's plans of power washing and staining our decks. Much to my surprise, they actually came out last Monday and washed the decks. Then....nothing..... The weekend came around, and we decided to bring the plants outside to enjoy the sun and weather for a few days. Brett was able to catch a maintenance man this morning who said he would give us time to bring the plants in whenever they are getting ready to start staining the decks on our building, whenever that may be.

I had been worried about the outdoor container plants "contaminating" our indoor plants with aphids, and I think that has been avoided to a large extent. We've had a couple thorough going-overs of the indoor plants and picked off the few that we found. There was a lot of unnoticed pepper activity while they were inside though - we had them all bunched together in our computer room. It was almost impossible to get to a particular plant and look it over, so we had lots of new discoveries when we brought them outside. They seemed to enjoy their stay in our apartment.

So, let's start with the container garden.

It rained over the weekend (big surprise), so the peppers are all covered in water in the pictures. A couple are even dirty since soil splashed up on them when it was raining. I can't even believe how rainy it was in Missouri this year - we're wondering if we are going to start having a "Midwestern Monsoon Season".

Anyways, work wise, we didn't have anything to do in the container garden this week aside from moving the plants around and battling the aphids.

A banana pepper.

The gnarly, but still growing strong, chocolate bell pepper.

A giant hot Hungarian Wax pepper and another smaller one. That big pepper is seriously huge, and it isn't even close to ripening yet. We've never had ripe Hungarian peppers, so we're looking forward to the big'n to start ripening.

A dirty and wet, but still gettin' bigger New Mexican Chile.

A cluster of petite bells. One is ripening. There are actually 5 or more ripening on the plant, I usually wait until there is a good 5-8 before picking them, as they are so small you need that many to get enough for a recipe. One of them is about the size of an acorn!

A bunch of poblano blooms. There are so many more where these came from. The poblano must have heard Brett and I complaining about its lack of production and perhaps its eviction from our garden plans next year and wanted to try to get back on our good side. Brett has said if the poblano can produce enough peppers for another batch of poblano sauce, the plant can stay. You hear that poblano? You produce some peppers and you'll get a nice, warm home for the winter (and probably a little unwanted love from the kitties), you slack off, and your outta here. ;-)

A couple pictures of the regular bell pepper. The pepper pictured at the top is growing quite quickly, I guess it likes the weather. The other is finally starting to ripen, wahoo!

The Serexican Chile lookin' nice with the water droplets beading off of it.

Some serranos! Our second year serrano must be nervous that it will meet the same fate as the poblano if it doesn't produce more! It is loaded down with blooms, and there are about 4-5 more small peppers started on the plant. Don't tell the serrano, but it stays whether it produces or not, we don't want it to think it can just loaf around though.

(An FYI, I don't actually think my plants can understand me - I know I'm weird, but I'm not that weird. I'm just being silly.)

As I mentioned in a post last week, we transplanted all the peppers that were of transplantable size (the cayennes and the jalapenos), some already grown wheatgrass for the kitties, and started some seeds for a "kitty grass mix" of oat, barley, and wheat grass. Over the weekend, we will be transplanting our One Ball Squash and starting more cilantro seeds, I guess the ones we started the first time were duds, they never went!

Oh, and I started the seeds for my "tea garden" at work: lemon grass, peppermint, spearmint, and lavender (Munstead variety). The lemon grass seed starting instructions were quite odd. You put the seeds on top of the soil as they need light to germinate. I've never started seeds that don't require a light layer of soil on top! Anyways, I did that last Wednesday and today when I got to work I noticed that the lemon grass and lavender seeds were starting to sprout! Not big enough for pictures yet, but if they are, and I remember, I will bring in my camera and snap some pictures of their progress on Friday for next week's garden update.

Things are going alright with the indoor winter garden. One of the jalapenos that was transplanted doesn't look so hot, I'm not sure it is going to make it. However, we do have another started that is (so far) doing quite well, and we are planning on bringing in the jalapeno plant from the porch too, so hopefully between all of those things, we will have a living jalapeno plant inside this winter.

The tomatillos and the mini-bells are struggling. They are growing, but for whatever reason won't stand up. The tomatillos problem seems simple enough - it is trying to grow all its leave on one side and falling over under its own weight. Brett has a couple of ideas on how to gently stake it up in hopes that it will get strength and continue to grow. The tomatillos are definitely an experiment. I don't expect them to survive to transplantable size let alone produce indoors over the winter, but I didn't have to buy any seeds, I just got 'em out of some tomatillos we had gotten, and I can reuse the soil for some other seed starts.

The mini-bells don't have a logical explanation that I can see for not standing up. They are fairly symmetrical in their growth and aren't all that big. I've tried adding a little more soil to try to create a little "hill" around each pepper plant to give them more support, but it still hasn't worked. Hopefully Brett's magic will or these two things will (sadly) not be part of the winter garden.

We are still waiting on our backordered organic spinach seeds. We hope they will come sometime soon as we were hoping to get our first round of "slower growing greens" (chard, kale, spinach) started in the next two to three weeks. We'll be waiting until mid-October to start the salad greens since they grow so quickly.

A couple of containers of sweet basil in their infancy.

Some "critter nip" as I like to call it (catnip). There are actually two pots of this going as well. I forgot to take a picture of the other one, but it looks much like this except there is only one start.

Our nice looking cherry bomb pepper starts. The one that is leaning over in the picture was my doing. I was trying to get a ripening tomato out of the window sill and somehow got caught on that unlucky little guy.

Our two containers of cayenne peppers. So far, they seem to be taking to their containers. I hope they do well!

This is the jalapeno plant I am tentative about. As you can see it is a little droopy, and when I checked on it this morning, the tip of one of the leaves appears to be trying to dry up. Hang on little fellow!

Here is the other jalapeno, looking quite nice. Now if I could only figure out how to get a plant start in the center of the pot! All of our plants are a little off-kilter, kind of like the girl who tends to them!

So grass doesn't mess around. This is the barley, oat, and wheatgrass combination we started last Wednesday. Oh, and Gabby in the background. The cats have been awesome with our indoor gardening experiment. (Knock on wood.) They haven't messed with any of the plants besides the wheatgrass.

Speaking of wheatgrass, here is a container of some "pre-grown" organic wheatgrass we picked up at the pet store and transplanted into a small terra cotta pot. As I said above, the cats have been great about the indoor plants, but they did know that this was theirs somehow. When Brett started to introduce them to the plants, they made a beeline for the cat grass. Once they got the idea that they weren't going to get in trouble by messing with it. Nermal dug in. And surprisingly, they haven't made a mess with it. I hope their catnip does as well as the grass has.

Here is Nermal discovering the wheatgrass (and check out that pot with apparently nothing in it, that is the other kitty grass whose growth is displayed above). I apologize for the clutter in the picture. Brett took this one during the week when all the plants were inside this room, so they were everywhere!

The lovely One Ball Squash starts.

The sad looking tomatillo and mini-bell starts. I have more mini-bell seeds, which I might give a shot if Brett's staking idea doesn't work, but I don't have any more tomatillo seeds and I am honestly not very confident that they will do all that well inside, so if these don't make it, well, they don't make it.

We are, however, going to be growing tomatillos in the community garden next year. We're going to be brave and have two plots, as well as expand our container garden on the porch. We don't need much porch space, just enough to be able to stand out there and tend to the plants, so we aren't so much limited by space as we are by the weight of all the plants. We both think we could safely double the number of plants we have and still have plenty of room to move and not be putting the deck in danger of bearing too much weight.

Anywho, now I'm just rambling...

'Til next time!


ilex said...

Wow, lookit all your peppers!

I have found that northern variety peppers (paprikas, bananas, lipsticks, cherrys, Italian fryers, mini bells) do much better in containers in the Great White North/ damp Midwest. The southern variety peppers (pretty much anything with a spanish-sounding name) take forever to ripen and the fruits are fewer. Though, it does depend on the year, too- last year I had dozens upon dozens of fully ripe peach habaneros, and this year I had exactly 9 green ones.

Gardening is funny.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of a tea garden! You are a genius! I think the idea of fresh brewed tea from *fresh* herbs is such a great idea!


VeggieGirl said...

Autumn is in full-swing here!! No more gardening, for sure :0(

Love those peppers!!

Nermal is so cute :0)

selina said...

uh yeah. i guess that grass doesn't mess around. maybe i'll see if i can get my kitties some. do you know if it is safe for dogs?

your peppers are still lovely. im amazed, i think mine are done. my tomatoes are definitely done. i need to pull them.

right now the spicy stuffed mushrooms you posted about recently are baking in the oven... super excited for them to be done.

Bianca said...

I just love all your peppers. And I'm so jealous of your green thumb. I kill plants...and lately, I've discovered I also kill pet fish (I was house-sitting for a friend last week and managed to kill both of his betas...oops!).

Anyhow, glad your peppers are still producing!

Anonymous said...

That *is* a great Doors song! Everything looks so good, but I love the Nermal picture the best!

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

Ilex - Yeah, we (or I would probably be more appropriate) have a "thing" for peppers, especially the spicy ones.

Thanks for the info on the peppers, that is really interesting. And yes gardening IS funny, the relative yields of a plant can vary from year to year significantly, especially with the wild weather we've been having as of late.

Courtney - Thank you for the complement in regards to my superior intellectual prowess. ;-) Just kidding.

The tea garden has been fun. I am going to get one of those "tea balls" so that when the herbs are ready, I can pick 'em, and use the ball to steep them. I was so happy to see the lavender and lemongrass sprout, now I'm waiting on the mints.

Veggie Girl - I know, the season here is quickly coming to a close.

Me too, I can't wait to pick 'em.

She is, isn't she?

Selina - I KNOW! I was seriously a little intimidated by its insane level of growth. I'm sure it is safe for pups. The pre-grown organic stuff we got from the pet store referred to the grass as "pet grass", so I think it can be given to different kinds of animals. Here is a little forum I found in a Google search that discusses the use of wheatgrass in a dogs diet:;jsessionid=D40800F440DC4C7FEAB59EEE854B40FE.node1?thread=1231#2006.

The peppers on the porch have done fantastic this year. And now that the squash are dead, the banana pepper plants at the community garden are taking full advantage.

Yum! I was glad to hear that you and Jason enjoyed them!

Bianca - Well, let's see, I've killed cacti - so many cacti, a bonsai tree, a wandering Jew, bamboo, an avocado tree, and more plant starts than I care to think about, so my thumb isn't really all that green. I am just persistent and incessantly read about gardening to learn how to do it better.

Oh no about the fish! If it makes you feel any better Betas are pretty easy to kill.

Shellyfish - I love the Doors so much!

That is my favorite picture as well, I love watching them eat the kitty grass. said...

It won't truly have effect, I suppose so.