Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: Garden Update #30 - The Last Weekly One, The First Freeze

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Garden Update #30 - The Last Weekly One, The First Freeze

Welcome to the last weekly garden update! Starting next month there will be only a monthly update as things are slowing down considerably in the gardens and there isn't much to tell on a weekly basis. I will still continue to take weekly pictures though - that way you can really get an idea of how much things have grown during the month. Either Brett or I will do a brief post if something really interesting or exciting happens, of course, but this may be the new template, even through summer next year. We are trying to figure out a way to make this both more useful to us as a photo gardening journal, as well as to our readers. We also think having monthly posts might give both ourselves and our readers a better grasp of how much the plants have grown each month and the general level of activity required in the garden throughout different parts of the year.

This garden update also marks the first hard freeze in the Mid-Missouri area. It got below freezing Sunday night, last night, and is supposed to again tonight. We went down to the community garden and picked a TON of partially ripe or green tomatoes, as well as some hot banana peppers. Sunday marked the last "official" day of our 2008 community gardening season. It was a wonderful year and I cannot wait to get my hands in the dirt again in 2009.

What the freeze also meant was that it was time to make a realistic assessment of which container garden plants were worth bringing in during the freeze and which were worth trying to keep over the winter. This was really hard for me as I didn't (and don't) want to kill any of them, but it is unrealistic to bring in plants that either haven't produced much if anything at all (the chocolate bell pepper, the poblano, and super chile) or that had already been struggling with the temperature fluxuations (the jalapeno [really sad about that one], the petite bell pepper, the regular bell pepper, the New Mexican and Serexican Chiles, one of our banana peppers). This meant that in the end, all we brought in were the Hot Hungarian Wax pepper plant, the cayenne plant, and our second year serrano (soon to be third year). We were really hoping to bring the jalapeno in too, but it really took a beating with all the wind and wild temperatures we've had lately. The leaves have wilted, many have yellowed, and it was a tough decision that had to be made. I think if I truly want to be a successful gardener, I am going to have to stop getting attached to the plants. Otherwise our home is going to be filled with a bunch of pepper plants that no longer produce, that I am keeping alive as houseplants. Let's just say I don't really like this time of year as I love my gardens and am sad to see them go.

But it's not all depressing. We've got some exciting tomatillo news and I managed to get some kale, chard, and cilantro seeds started this weekend. We decided against trying mini bell pepper seeds again as we aren't sure if our pots are even big enough, we both have our doubts that they will fruit inside (without some major assistance), and we already have sweet peppers going (the cherry bombs), so we will save those seeds for next year.

Well, without further yapping, check out the last installment of the 2008 container garden update (::sniff::):

The cayenne pepper plant. We brought it inside before the frost that evening.

The ripe New Mexican Chile. We pulled it off the plant and left the plant outside. We will pull this and all the other dead plants out of the pots later this week when it is supposed to warm back up for a few days.

The Hot Hungarian Wax peppers. This lovely plant is now part of the beginnings of the "One Ball Squash Microclimate in J&B's Living Room".

Some pictures of the petite bell peppers. As you can see from the last picture, the plant has been struggling with the conditions already and probably wouldn't fare well in our apartment. I'm honestly not sure if could handle the shock of the transition with how tentative it looked. We picked all the petite bells off the plant and I washed and froze them for use this winter.

A couple of the serranos on the second-year serrano plant. I think it likes it inside. We brought it in before the first expected freeze and one of the peppers started to ripen really quickly. I think it is because our apartment is a lot warmer than it is outside (and so far we have not had to run the heater at all - thank you layers and blankets!).

The lone poblano pepper. There had been another decent sized poblano on here, but the wind blew it off, there were a couple more that had started but they just "petered" out and never really did anything. We picked this pepper and will be using it in a meal this week. I wish our poblano had been more productive than it was, but we'll try again with a bigger container next year.

And now on to the indoor winter garden!

As I noted earlier, I started a container of chard, kale, and cilantro this weekend. I will be "thinning out the cherry bomb plants numbers" this week so that they can grow larger and get to a transplantable size. Not this weekend, but next, I will be starting a second container of chard, kale, basil, and also our first round of salad greens.

Here is this week's picture of the pepper colony.

A couple of pictures of Gabby making it difficult for me to take pictures of one of the cayenne plants. :-) I think she was upset that I was paying attention to the plant and not her - silly kitties.

Photos of both cayenne plants. The second one is really starting to take off!

The two jalapeno plants. The droopy one amazes me, I thought it was a "goner" but it has continued to grow and sprout new leaves - it just stays droopy. Huh.

The cherry bomb starts. We had taken them outside to rid them of a few aphids they had (thanks to having to bring our outdoor plants in awhile back when they were spraying and power washing our decks - all the peppers have a few aphids, but nothing like the outdoor plants had at points in the season, thus far the aphid population has been easy to handle on the indoor plants).

The catnip - it looks a little gnarly, but it is still growing and most of the seedlings have multiple leaves on them now. I'd say that is a good sign.

The basil, still looking good. We think it may get a little hot in the hothouses for the basil when we have them sitting in the sun, so we've removed this basil-containing hothouse into the shade to see if that helps. If not, the basil will be coming out of the hothouse.

And now the most exciting part of this week's garden update - the tomatillo plant. Not only has it gotten a lot taller since last week, it has bloomed!

Tomatillos have gorgeous, yet odd looking flowers on them. They almost look like they are inside out, it is pretty neat. I've been trying to hand pollinate them with my finger, but I think I am going to dig out a paintbrush to make sure they actually get pollinated. (I could have just been spreading a lot of pollen throughout my apartment.)

This little bloom opened up yesterday! And as you can see from some of the pictures, there are more blooms on the way. This is so exciting! We got the seeds for the tomatillo from a tomatillo we got at the store. They have never been outside and not only did they grow, they are now blooming! Wahoo!

The One Ball Squash. I am a little worried about the One Ball's to be perfectly honest. We've already lost two and as you can see, one of them isn't looking so hot. But I also know that all of our squash plants went through a "struggling" period, so hopefully they will make it. They are still growing!

The start of our living room microclimate. We will be positioning greens, herbs, and catnip around the spaces between pepper plants.

Well I have quite a few food posts I'd like to work on, but alas, now isn't the time. Let's just say I have a really tasty soup, burrito, and a couple of baked goods recipes "in queue" that I need to post about. You should see them sometime soon. Hopefully I can get some of them posted this week!

I hope everyone is enjoying their week - freezing temperatures and all!

'Til next time.


VeggieGirl said...

This post was bittersweet!! I've enjoyed every single one of your garden updates, and look forward to them again after winter :0)

Heather @ SGF said...

We're cooling off too. We woke up to frost on the grass this morning. Yikes!

jessy said...

supersadface, Jennifer - i will miss your weekly garden updates. it's been such a treat following along with everything you've been growing, i guess you could say i've become attached as well! :)

that's too bad that some of the plants were strong enough to make it inside, but i agree: there's no point in keeping an unproductive plant that would just take up space as a mere houseplant if you're looking for something that will produce. that's good stuff on getting the kale, chard, and cilantro started! and the blooms on the tomatillo plant are absolutely GORGEOUS! they're truly unique & so pretty! what a vibrant shade of yellow-green, too - i love it!

say hello to my favorite pepper colony for me! ;) and i'm cheering for the droopy jalapeno as well. the basil's look'n great - those tiny little wrinkled leaves of yumminess! yay! basil's kinda funny - i find that for a looong time it's slow to grow, then all of a sudden it just starts go'n bananas. i bet it will really start grow'n soon!

ms. Gabby looks like one of our kitties, ms. Sony! cats are too funny - how they get kind of upset with the sharing of attention and such. in our home it's a constant battle between our 4 cats and our dog, julie. whenever we're paying attention to julie the cats come over and start talk'n - then when we start petting the cats ms. julie knocks them out of the way and sits down right where they were standing! ahahahahah! animals continually crack me up - what fantastic entertainment they can be!

it's a great last weekly post! and i look forward to your monthly updates, too! oh - and how's the avocado tree doing?!

SusanB said...

I've been babying my container plants through a couple of light frosts but I think we've come to plant triage time here in Southern NJ -- snow is forecast for tomorrow, daytime freezing temps and it has been rainy, windy and cold all day today. I expect though that I'll just be "throwing" the smaller plants into the windowed room attached to the garage and making the real decisions this weekend.

Happy Herbivore! said...

that photo of Gabby with the plant is so cute! It looks like shes looking for a flower to smell.

DP Nguyen said...

Aww, so sad. Those peppers that are growing look very good, but yes, it is so hard when winter comes. I also get way too attached to my plants. sniffs..

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

Veggie Girl - It was for me too. But not to worry, our gardening season isn't over - just the bulk of it is. We are still going to be trying to do our indoor winter garden, and we'll be posting monthly updates.

Heather - In Texas that has to be an odd sight!

Jessy - I think I will miss doing them too - it's just this last month or so, things have really slowed down and there isn't really much going on to talk about. I've really enjoyed doing the garden updates, and of course, will continue updating on the indoor winter garden. We are hoping that this new garden update "format" will be more useful to both us and our readers.

It's hard not to get attached to the plants. When you are essentially an urbanite, it is really exciting when seeds germinate and grow. When you are with them from seed to maturity, you get attached.

I thought it was sad too. And I don't mind having a few "spent" peppers as houseplants, but I am going to have to be particular about which ones I keep for that purpose. When you grow 20+ pepper plants, you can't keep 'em all!

I thought the tomatillo blossoms were incredibly unique. We've gotten a third one and it looks like there are a few more on their way. I thought they kind of looked like an inside out flower.

Haha, the pepper colony is doing well, except for when one of the kitties wants to love on it. I think the droopy jalapeno is really trying to hold on - I'm pulling for it too. If it does survive, it will likely become a houseplant as well - I have a soft spot for the "underdog".

Aw! You've got LOTS of critters. I'd love to have that many but 2 is our limit in an apartment. They are really funny about attention. Generally, when I pet Nermal, Gabby tries to force her way in. Poor Nermal is always having to fight Gabby off. Little punk!

The avocado tree isn't doing so hot. The new leaves all fell off the new branch - though oddly, the new branch keeps growing. I contacted my dad and got the receipt so I could exchange it. I am considering waiting until spring to do the exchange though, since it is starting to get cold. Not sure about how we are going to handle that yet, but it looks like the tree we had isn't going to make it.

Susan B - Don't you hate this time a year. You start to wonder if trying to cover them, or bring them in is even worth it. Our midwestern weather is really frustrating too - we had a string of cold days, with evenings in the low 20s, and now they are calling for highs in the 70s later this week. Damn Missouri.

Good luck in your decision making. It's always hard to choose!

Lindsay (HH) - I thought so too. She kind of was. They like to nuzzle the plants, I think they like 'em. :-)

Dg Nguyen - I'm glad I'm not the only one. All the plants that I thought would survive, I brought in. But the weather has been fluxuating for the last couple of weeks and it had already taken its toll on a lot of them.

Heather @ SGF said...

It is strange. We're not supposed to have our first frost until mid Nov at the earliest, but I had to cover the garden last night because we were going to be in the 30s! Yikes!

It's warming up a little today more and the forecast looks like we're in the 50's (for lows) for the rest of the week. Pshew! I need my spinach to grow just a little bigger before any more of that cold weather rolls in.

Alice (in Veganland) said...

You haven't run your heater yet?! you lucky! I'm using blankets and all, but it's just too cold...It's supposed to snow on Friday!
The tomatillo flowers are so exotic! how cool! I love your garden updates, I'm gonna miss them...

ilex said...

My peppers, like my tomatoes, did not fare well this year. Is this global cooling? Is Jake Gyllenhal trapped in deep-freeze NYC with his skinny hottie gf Anne Hathaway? Maybe. Geez, it's freaking cold in Detroit, too.

I had far too many tomatillos last year, so I swore the sticky little buggers off. I never did truly enjoy that weird greenish funk of a smell they have. And then they volunteered in nearly all of my pots this year. The little jerks.

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

Heather - It seems to have been an odd growing season all around. It was unseasonably cool here and we got so much rain. We too got our first freeze a little bit earlier than usual. It makes me wonder what we are in store for over the winter. Good luck with the spinach! I'll keep my fingers crossed for it!

Alice - To be fair, I think it is generally a lot warmer here than it is in Germany. It doesn't usually start getting bitterly cold here until December/January, but cold enough to run a heater usually by November. Snow already? Wow, I'm not looking forward to that.

I thought so too. Don't worry, we'll still be doing them, only once a month now though.

Ilex - Our peppers and tomatoes did better this year than in years past, but I think they would have been more productive had it been a littler warmer and drier. Hahahahaha, who knows what's going to happen, eh? I think whatever it is, it is going to be erratic.

Haha, I remember the first time I bought one, I had never seen one in their skin, and when I peeled the husk off and felt the sticky stuff and that funky smell, I thought something was wrong. :-) Hahaha, hard to get rid of, eh? Thanks for the warning.