Pregnant peppers.

Not literally, but they are late. I sowed the tomatoes a month ago and ran out of steam/time/hands. “Next weekend,” I promised. It passed. “Next weekend,” I repeated. Again, it passed. A month late now, but they’re sown and heated and moist. Bells and jalapenos, fish and five color, poblano and (if I can find my seeds) gypsies.

The tomatoes are already looking to move. The strawberries, too. I think it’s time to buckle down and build a second grow light.

And sow some peas! I’m ever so excited. I missed the fall window so we haven’t had garden snacks (aka peas) in ages.

Speaking of changing lodging, I do believe the paper whites are moving off of the kitchen window sill and into the out of doors. The neighbors’ bedded ones seemed much happier than mine.

Peppers!

The peppers haven’t minded the heat, or the cool front, and are churning out their fruit like the good little food-producers they are.

What I learned about peppers recently:

  • Anaheim peppers will turn brownish, and then bright red. They are less bitter the longer they ripen.
  • They don’t need tomato cages like I thought. They do fall over when they get laden with fruit, but that’s ok with me.
  • Planting them at 15″ instead of 18″-24″ will let their canopies shade the ground so they don’t get so hot and dry so quickly (even when I forget to mulch for the third time come July…)
  • Bell peppers that start out purple just might turn orange on you.
  • Fish peppers are the most interesting looking peppers I’ve ever seen, and grow on the prettiest of plants. It’ll be a walk-way lining plant next year instead.

Think there are enough Anaheim peppers on this branch?

Fish pepper plant looking lovely…

And the peppers themselves just get cooler looking!

I call these “button bells” – they don’t really get much bigger than this. I’m guessing it’s my water restrictions.

As for the cayenne…they just won’t quit! I have a Ristra, and a bowlful, and am about to try my hand at drying them for grinding.

Sweet potatoes bought and grown.

In the foreground are the sweet potatoes, followed by the pepper patch, and finished up with the tomato jungle. Nevermind the leaning shovel and sunhat taking center stage.

Isn’t the foliage on the fish pepper lovely? I didn’t expect a varigated leaf from the description on the seed packet, but am absolutely adoring this plant (and it grows a lot of peppers!) DH says they taste like “a jalapeno bite without the jalapeno heat.”

The things I’ve read on sweet potatoes say how much they don’t need watering once established. They sure do seem to like the water we’ve had lately though. They’re trying to escape their bed, climb the corner post, and move into pepper territory.

Those are the sweet potatoes that sprouted in my pantry, that I cut into thirds, dusted with diatomaceous earth, and buried. I did buy some sweet potato sprouts this year as well. Let’s check in on their progress…

Unless the pantry potatoes are all show and no potato, I know what I’ll be doing again next year…

Pepper lessons, basil confusion, and a landscape raspberry.

I spent a four-day weekend on a business trip and arrived home just in time to do some more work before ordering some take-out and hitting the gardens. The light was fading fast, and the insects were emerging with even greater speed. The fire ants had once again relocated, and I had once again been too stubborn to don real shoes and received two more bites for my troubles. I had remembered to leave the bug spray in the car though, and escaped with nary a mosquito bite. DH managed only one fire ant bite, no mosquito bites, but took the cake with a mean mystery bite on his back.

We were once again rewarded with pound after pound of fresh heirloom tomatoes! DH struck up an easy conversation with a neighboring gardener, and we managed to send her home with a few of his heaping double handfuls of the smaller varieties. She’s raking in buckets of apple-sized tomatoes herself (we politely declined any.)

What about non-tomato news?

Things I’ve learned about peppers this year:

  • Two cayenne plants is more than enough to make an attempt at a ristra for the first time
  • Two jalapeno plants is not enough for DH’s appetite.
  • One fish pepper plant will make more fish peppers than you know what to do with (assuming you know what to do with a fish pepper, which…I don’t yet.)
  • Two Anaheim pepper plants is perfect.
  • Two poblano plants is half as much as necessary for prepping portions to make chili with in the winter.
  • One Chinese Five Pepper is one too many (apparently something likes to devour every last bit of leaf on the poor thing as soon as the peppers are close to ripe! That, and I’m not sure if they’re ripe when they’re purple (their first color), white (their second color), or if I’m supposed to wait until they’re dried and shriveled and orange…)
  • We both miss the magic of the Czechoslovakian Black Pepper.
  • Purple and orange bell peppers are magical when combined in a dish. One of each is not nearly enough!

Things I still don’t know enough about to help thrive? Basil tops the list. I can get it to germinate. I can get it about two inches tall. I can keep it alive if I buy it…until it gets mealy bugs, gets woody, keeps over, or bolts immediately.

In the “bolts immediately” category is this lovely African Blue Basil. Not a week after planting it in the backyard bed (under a shade cloth!) it flowers. It’s lovely to look at, and perhaps I should reconsider basil as a landscape plant for the bees instead of a seasoning for us.

Speaking of landscape-plants-that-I-would-like-to-some-day-eat-from, my raspberry is happier this year (it’s third year) than last!