Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: Garden Update #27

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Garden Update #27

It is feeling quite fall-like today in Mid-Missouri. Perfect temperatures, but raining. I guess you can't win them all.

Well, not a lot has happened in the gardens this week. Brett did a little work in the indoor winter garden - more on that below. Since we are leaving the peppers on the plants to ripen, there hasn't been a whole lot of new growth on some of plants. Others are taking off. Our banana peppers, cayennes, jalapenos, and poblanos are quickly starting to fruit, which, of course, makes us very happy.

Starting in November, I will probably scale back the garden updates to every two weeks, and perhaps even once a month. We will also be taking the pictures, as we have been, on either Saturday or Sunday, and I will have the garden updates posted no later than Tuesday. As I'm sure some of you know, these garden updates also serve as Brett and I's gardening journal. We document the growth, the problems we had, what worked, what didn't, and so on. With there being so little that happens from week to week at this point, it seems like we could scale back and not miss anything. It looks like the plants inside grow, just not as quickly as they do outside.

I apologize in advance for the quality of the pictures. The container garden plants are back inside for the moment. Why, you ask? Well, 'cause it has and is supposed to rain. Remember a few weeks ago that I was talking about our apartment complex power washing and staining the decks? Well,they finally got it done, but never rinsed it off. We wanted to bring them in before the first rain, as we didn't want whatever lovely chemical yummies they used getting in our plants via the dripping rain water.

Let's just say peppers don't like having their picture taken with a flash. We tried all sorts of different lighting schemes and none of them worked, so flash is what you get. I really prefer not to use the flash any time, but due to the lighting conditions of my apartment, I usually have to for food posts. Now, I know some people take their food photography very seriously, but I take my food very seriously. I don't mind snapping a few pictures to provide with the recipe, but I'm not going to spend hours figuring out lighting, taking hundreds of pictures from different angles, spending tons of money on plates, back drops, and cameras - I want to eat it! Not to mention, our hand-me-down, "country style" plates are super cool.

That is just not my style - if you all come here for the good photography, perhaps I should send you to some blogs that do a much better job in that department. Basically, I want you all to know what the food looks like, but I'm not trying to earn any style points, nor is my food in a magazine.

With that said, I really like our plants, they are gorgeous and beg to have their picture taken. And since I don't have to worry about anything getting cold or inedible, I can take my time. But this did not work last night, so you will see the "best of the best", including pictures of glowing, radioactive-looking peppers.


Here are the container garden pictures for this week:

This might kind of give you an idea of what our indoor winter "microclimates" will look like. Things will be clumped together a little better than this, and pruned to keep "levels" at different heights. The indoor peppers have grown, but not enough that I am comfortable bringing them out where they are susceptible to run-ins with felines.

A baby jalapeno, with a regular bell pepper trying to crowd it out of the picture.

Oooooooohhhhhhh, a scary New Mexican Chile just in time for Halloween. ;-)

Radioactive and glowing banana peppers.

An illuminated Hungarian Wax pepper. This is one big Hungarian Wax pepper!

This one didn't turn out too bad. The petite bell peppers. Looks like one of these and a couple other petite bells will be ready to be picked soon. Wahoo for having something from the garden for the local booty update this weekend.

A couple of poblanos still going strong.

Are you blinded by all the glare yet? Here are the regular bell peppers (with the baby jalapeno in the upper left corner). The lower one is now fully ripened. I will be using him in a meal later this week.

And finally the serrano plant, again a really bad picture, but I hope they at least illustrate that there are a lot of serranos on the plant.

There are more new peppers and such, but these were the only pictures that turned out.

Onto the indoor winter garden. Things here are slowly moving along. The catnip and the basil are testing my patience by taking up such valuable real estate in the mini hothouses and we just haven't had time to go get more plastic containers. There are now four leaves on each of the basil starts, two of which on each plant are starting to get that "ripply" looking quality to them that basil has. I'm just not sure if it is ready to come out of the hothouse. The catnip also has four leaves as well.

Brett's mom and grandmother might be coming down from Illinois for a visit this weekend, which would be really nice. If they do, we are going to treat them to market fresh J&B Huevos Rancheros. If they don't end up coming down this weekend, I will be starting a pot of chard, a pot of kale, more mini-bells, and another round of catnip. If they come down, these activities will be pushed off until during the week next week, or over next weekend. Basically, what my rambling amounts to is that in the next two weeks we will be starting our first rounds of chard and kale, another attempt at mini-bells, and another pot of catnip.

That will leave only another pot of basil, salad greens, and spinach to start. That is, if our spinach seeds ever arrive, which obviously, they still have not.

We are planning on doing our greens "staggered", we'll start some chard and kale, and a couple of weeks later, we'll start another round. The hope is that this will help ensure we have a fairly steady supply of these greens. We'll be doing the same with the baby salad greens, but are putting off starting the first round for awhile, as they grow pretty fast. We are trying to time things out so our stuff is getting to "maturity" around the end of market.

On a sad, and slightly unrelated note, the Monday/Wednesday Columbia Farmer's Markets are no more. The weekday ones run through mid-October, and I guess the cool, moist weather pushed that date up a little bit this year. We still have our Saturday market until mid-November, then it is the Root Cellar and, ick, Hy-Vee for us.

Sorry for the aside, let's get to the pictures and such.

Here is our "pepper colony". As you can see, we are trying to be resourceful in our use of place and materials. There are adequate water catchment devices in place (saucers and old clothes that are the back-up) and the plants are making a temporary home on our Hammond - hence the back-up water catchments.

The basil. Can you see the pair of ripply leaves on each? This is a bad picture. I should really just have Brett take all the pictures, I am terrible at it.

Catnip. Can you see the one laying over the edge of the pot? I think it got a little ambitious, it grew so quickly, it can't support itself, so when I watered the catnip yesterday, I layed him over the edge, we'll see what happens.

Another aside, as someone with a background in psychology, I have to wonder why I refer to all the plants and fruits as "he" or "him" - what about them implies that they are males? I mean really, something that produces like that, would more appropriately be referred to in the feminine sense. Interesting. I'll have to start trying to make sure to change my gender usage. ;-)

Our two cayenne pepper plants. We actually made sure to label the plants this time, and we didn't use paper labels - hehe. We used the ultra-high-tech method of popsicle sticks. And we didn't even go buy popsicle sticks. We bought a box of fruity popsicles, which Brett so valiantly ate, and washed, dried, and used the sticks as labels. How's that for repurposing!

Cherry bomb peppers. These girls (hehe) keep getting bigger and looking stronger. I would have to say, since these have spent most of their lives in the window, they are "hardened off" a lot better than the rest of the plants. Though they aren't going to be outside battling wind, they will be battling kitties, and these lovely gals should be well prepared for the nuzzles they will receive.

Our two jalapeno pepper plants. The top one, the sad one, still looks a little droopy, but it is growing and seems to be faring alright.

The kitty grass blend. Now, I've never owned a home or had a lawn really, but I thought grass, if cared for, was fairly long lived. We've only had this grass for a few weeks and it is already starting to yellow and droop in places. I've tried watering it, letting it go without water, and I'm not sure what to do. Is wheat/oat/barley grass just short lived? The pot we had that was exclusively wheatgrass has already perished as well. I have enough seed for one more pot of kitty grass, then I might have to get some more, or just plant more catnip.

The One Ball squash. So far, they are still alive and growing. They have stood up more and are trying their darndest to reach the light - it seems to be working - keep it up ladies!

Now for the coolest picture/thing about this post. These are the tomatillos plants. Remember them, looking all sad, gnarly, and bent over? Well, Brett's idea worked and it was ingenious. He took two chopsticks (we bought a pack that had like 50 chopsticks in them, who seriously needs that many?), fastened them to the sides of the pot with a couple of rubber bands, and then carefully used twist-ties to "stake" them up. It worked, and they look great. What's even better is that, not only did we not have to buy anything special to do this, we saved things from going in the recycling. The chopsticks we already had, the rubber bands came from things we've gotten at market, and same with the twist-ties. Surprisingly, we are not pack rats. Brett comes from a long line of them and has tried to only take the good parts of "pack-rat-ism". It can come to a point where you have so much stuff, and a lot of it is useless. Brett and I do not have very much stuff at all, but it all serves a purpose. If we save something, we know we will find a use for it. The twist-ties, had they not been put to this use, would have been used to do something like dry herbs. Wahoo for repurposing.

Another thing interesting about this picture and these plants is that they do not look like they are the same thing - which they are. The one on the left looks quite similar to a tomato plant, which is what I was expecting, the one on the right, well, doesn't. But the seeds all came direct from a tomatillo, so who knows.

And finally, the monthly avocado tree check-in. I really didn't want to talk about or show pictures of the avocado, as it was pretty much dead - as you can see in the picture below. We couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. We knew it was getting enough light. We thought it might need a bigger pot - so we transplanted it into a larger pot, it still continued to decline. We gave it all new soil, thinking there was too much salt or compaction in the soil, it still continued to decline. I was starting to think that it was going to die completely and we were going to have to "cash in" on the warranty for it and get a new one.

Then Brett noticed that the original ties that came with the plant - used to stake it up, were on awful tight. He thought it might be choking off the growth of the tree. We took them off, and the tree went from looking like this:

To having this:

A whole new branch!

I understand that avocado trees are pretty hardy - though sensitive in terms of fruiting conditions. Now that there is some new growth, we are going to lop the top off the tree, in hopes that it will be encouraged to sprout a few more branches.

I promise that at some point I will post pictures of the tea garden at work. I always forget to bring my camera in with me - I'm not all that with it at 7:00 a.m. But so far, the lavender and lemon grass are doing quite well. The lavender is almost big enough that it is poking out of the top of the pot. The lemongrass isn't that big, but it is doing well. The peppermint has still yet to start. I'm wondering if the mint seeds were "duds" - I have one sprouted spearmint seedling, but it doesn't seem to be getting any bigger. If only one of the mint plants goes though, I hope it is the spearmint.

Well, that's all for now.

'Til next time!


Laura said...

haha! i'm glad to be able to inform you! of course you can move in...but i'm not sure we'll all fit in my studio apartment! i guess we'll have to get creative :)

mad about udon said...

What a green-thumb!

Bianca said...

Yea for fall weather! Its fall-ish and rainy here too.

And I'm so proud of all your living things! You're an excellent gardener...and so is Brett.

shellyfish said...

I LOVE the pepper colony! I think the pictures are just great - allows me to pretend we've just moved summer into the house!

VeggieGirl said...

Love how everything is still flourishing!! :0)

Courtney said...

I think your photos are gorgeous! I am always impressed by them, and today is no different :o)

I hope that your avocado tree bounces back!


Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

yay avocado tree! You mentioned lemongrass, which I might try to grow outside next year. Is it from seeds? I've also heard you can grow it from lemongrass that you purchase at the store.

Alice (in Veganland) said...

You saved the avocado tree! yeeeees!

vegan addict said...

Those petite bell peppers are too cute! What an experience you and Brett are having with the garden(s). I admire all your commitment and hard work, plus the organization (journaling and blogging)! I'd be pooped after a few weeks.

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

Laura - I've learned a lot from your blog about different types of food and they all make me want to show up at your house around dinner time with puppy eyes! ;-)

We're small people, we can make it work! Hehe.

Mad About Udon - Aw, thank you.

Bianca - It is lovely, but I don't like the rain so much. Brett is really ingenious! I've appreciated all his great ideas for how to make our garden better.

Shellyfish - Hahaha. That is how I feel. It is really nice to enter a room and be greeted by lots of growing things.

Veggie Girl - The peppers sure are trying!

Courtney - Thank you, I like the spooky New Mexican Chile one myself. ;-)

We do too - right now it is looking pretty promising.

Lisa - Wahoo is right!

I grew the lemongrass from seed - I've actually never seen lemongrass at the store! It is a little weird germinating them though. They need direct light to germinate, so you put them on top of the soil, water from the bottom, and they do their thing.

Alice - So far, it looks that way.

Vegan Addict - They are really cute, some of them are no bigger than an acorn. We have learned a LOT this year, made our share of mistakes, but overall I would say it has definitely been a success.

Gardening is relaxing for me and I really enjoy it, so that part isn't work. The journaling/blogging are a bit more work - but it keeps us from "reinventing the wheel" so it is worth it in the end. And if we can help out a fellow gardener with something we've learned - then WAHOO!

kale for sale said...

The pepper plants on my deck have gone into their second life and are covered, well, that may be an exaggeration, have blossoms on them. I'm ready for another round and hope they make it before the frosts. You are amazing that you bring them indoors. Those have got to be some good peppers!

jessy said...

i quite like how the peppers kinda glow with the flash! they look really neat! and i can totally see the ripply leaves on the basil! yay! they're so cute! i think that the cat grass doesn't last that long. we had some once for the kitties, it maybe lasted 3-4 weeks at most. and our cats mostly ignored it so we don't bother much with it now. silly cats!

that stinks on the one farmer's market closing. i'm happy your other one is still open. your tomatillos look so happy, and hooooooooooooray for a new branch on the avocado plant! i'm so glad you guys saved it! i hope it continues to grow; i've got my fingers crossed! have fun this weekend if you have company, and if not - enjoy more gardening! either sound like fun plans! :)

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

Kale for Sale - Wahoo about your peppers trying to produce one last time. We too hope that our peppers mature before the last frost. If not, we'll bring 'em in and let 'em ripen inside.

Haha, well we didn't want whatever had been used to stain our deck getting in the plants, and thus in what we eat - since we had room inside, we brought them in. Well, I'm quite fond on our pepper plants, they've done us well this year. :-)

Jessy - Hehe, I did too. Wahoo, I'm glad you can see the ripply basil! I'm not really all that great at taking pictures, so I get excited when one turns out really well. Brett takes some damn good pictures!

I was thinking the cat grass had to be short lived, I mean, we were taking care of it and doing everything I know to do. Perhaps catnip is going to make better kitty fodder than the grass. I think I'll save the other round of grass seeds I have for later in the year. Your kitties don't eat it? Ours sure do, when we introduced them to the room with all the plants in it (when they were power washing the deck) the cats made a beeline for the kitty grass as if they knew it was theirs.

I was a little sad to ride by the empty space where the market usually is on my bus ride home from work the other day. I knew it was coming, it being October and all, but I was in denial a little bit. Brett and I were even planning on going to the Wednesday market. :-( At least the Saturday one is still around for the next month or so. Gotta really start stocking up on those sweet potatoes and the rest of the buttercup/mini-hubbards we wanted to get.

I was so happy to see that new branch. The thing looked dead, I was about a day away from writing my dad to ask him if he had the receipt so we could use the warranty when we saw the new growth. Yay for Brett thinking that the ties could be choking the plant off.

Looks like this weekend will be company - wahoo! Brett's mom and grandma are going to be coming down to visit tomorrow and Saturday. We are really looking forward to it - it has been since last Thanksgiving that we've seen them. I think we'll be taking them to a local restaurant on Friday and cooking for them at our apartment on Saturday. Maybe they will even come to the farmer's market with us!

Oh, and I also get a four day weekend out of this. Brett and I's anniversary (6 years) is on Monday! <3 (I don't know how to make the cool hearts like other folks do.)

tanyaa said...

Taking a short break from our reviewing hot sauces and such, we turned our attention this weekend to taking some pictures of our chile pepper garden. It’s been about a month or so since all the transplants were done, so they’ve had some time to grow while adjusting to their new digs. We’ve been feeding these plants some products that we got from the knowledgable folks at Cross Country Nurseries. We’ve been doing weekly post-transplant feedings that have included some FISH & KELP #1 FERTILIZER, which is primarily a 4-1-1 liquid fish emulsion, and some KELP & FISH #3 FERTILIZER, which is a 90% emulsified seaweed solution that’s like a multivitamin for plants. The results have been pretty striking for some, but not others. Here’s a photo log of where these plants are in their growth now. Above you can see the star of the group, which are the Sandia plants.
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