Posts Tagged ‘Peppers’

11 11 11 – On Armistice Day, the Philharmonic Will Play – Weekly Update 11-11-2012

November 11, 2012

Last week it was Guy Fawkes Day, now it’s Armistice Day, and tomorrow some of us have the day off for this day that we now call Veterans Day. My son is a cadet at a senior military college, and I couldn’t be more proud that he went to Army Basic Training this summer, and so “thank you” to those people who have served and lived and died for this country.

Cayennes in a Bucket

Bountiful variety

Harvests: The last of the peppers – picked as we removed the plants. Ditto for field peas.  A few small carrots and radishes to put into salads. Leaf lettuces, arugula, and other spicy salad greens (such as a type of mustard). Cilantro which went into a lemongrass soup and parsley and dill which we dried. Our first real sized leek!

The Real Leek

We grew leeks last year but we didn’t realize they had such a long growing season (because seed packets lie) and we direct seeded them with lukewarm success. We had to harvest them before their time because we needed the box. On the advice of The Gardener of Eden (link to her blog is on our home page), we planted them in a box that wouldn’t have harvest pressures this year. We also started the seeds inside and transplanted them out when they were about 6″ tall. The one we harvested is definitely the largest one, but we’re hoping the rest will continue to size up.

Washed lettuces


Dill, parsley, and beans

With the exception of a few butterbean plants, all the remaining summer crops are gone now. Hurrah and all that because this was a long year in the garden and we don’t mind slacking off some now. It’s amazing that many of the pepper plants were still flowering in November. I guess this is because their natural season is longer than our growing season here in piedmont, NC. I think I remember reading that many peppers are perennials in the right climate, but don’t quote me  on that.

Our first frost occurred on the 8th and it was mild. That’s over 2 weeks later than our average date of 10/23.

Chopped Sweet Peppers

We managed to dry all of the peppers intended for drying this week. Our poor dog suffered through the smell of the peppers drying in the oven for days – mostly while we were at work, but we did have to suffer along all last weekend. I have bags and bags of dried ground peppers now, plus lots of canned or frozen chopped sweet peppers.

Dried hot pepper powders

We’re taking stock of our growing needs and will likely convert at least one more long box to permanent berry production of some sort next spring. We’re fortunate that we’ve been able to grow so much of our produce but we’ve determined that we can scale back some on certain items and still eat well year round.  This comes from a variety of factors, including that we don’t really need *that many* hot peppers for drying every year – we made enough dried peppers this year to make chili powders all the way through the next growing season and into the next year. Also, some items just don’t do well here – eventually we’re gonna give up trying to prove we can grow some of them, like certain kinds of winter squash and certain brassica.


28 October Weekly Update

October 28, 2012

I’ll have the usual, please:  field peas, butter beans, sweet and hot peppers, and lettuces.


Beans and Peas drying after blanching

The regular cornucopia

Amazing to be harvesting all these things this late in the season, but a frost appears likely in the next 2 weeks, and then most of it will shut down.

Our lemon-grass plant is over 7′ high, it’s bigger this year than it ever has been.  We’re about to cut it down and harvest the stalks, which we will cut into 1-3″ pieces and freeze for cooking with throughout the year.

We accomplished some fall clean-up in the garden. The asparagus ferns were cut back, and the box was weeded. We’ll put shredded leaf mulch in this box before the weather gets too cold, in order to protect the asparagus crowns through the coldest part of winter; then we’ll remove it in the spring. Garlic boxes will also get leaf mulch.

Asparagus box

After cutting the ferns back

After the weeding

We removed the oldest field pea vines, which took a solid hour, but it’s just a once a year job. The cattle panels work great for climbing vines, but the vines wrap themselves tightly around everything so removal becomes a game of cutting and tugging. We also removed more of the butter bean plants as we harvested the last pods. We’re down to about 1/3rd of the plants. The remaining plants still have pods that are maturing, if the weather holds.

We have LOTS of green peppers of all varieties still growing. Now it’s just a race to see how many fully ripen before the first frost (average 1st frost for us is October 23rd, still hasn’t happened yet). Not that all of them have to change color to be good, we just tend to leave them on as long as possible (which is why we have so many red jalapenos).

21 October 2012 Weekly Update

October 21, 2012

Weekly Harvesting

Field peas and butter beans, hot and sweet peppers, kale and mustard, lettuces, are the primary harvests of the week.

Mustard and Kale

We shelled so many peas and beans last night our fingers got sore. The photograph here does not really show just how many of them we had. We braised some of the fresh greens last night.

We seeded our home-saved garlic last Sunday afternoon. We were able to restrain ourselves and plant only 1 box of garlic this year – we have a tendency to overplant with regard to how much we really need.

The cabbages had to be sprayed with BT due to caterpillars. We also did plenty of squishing. Several of the bell pepper plants got removed. Most of these were ones that weren’t very productive due to being in a box that got less sun, plus they were predated on by deer shortly after we put them out in the spring. As we were picking the butter bean plants we pulled up quite a few of them. The oldest field pea plants were picked clean yesterday and will be removed today.

Our radishes are really disappointing. They’re not bulbing up. This is a continuing issue for us and root veggies.

Canned jalapeno peppers; sweet peppers in the back

The leaves are really turning nice colors this week, and more and more fall each day.


23 September Weekly Update

September 23, 2012

A belated “happy birthday” to Frodo and Bilbo…

Picked and washed

Garden harvests this week include:

Cucumbers!  (I remain tickled that we’re getting cucumbers in September), the last of the old Dutch Half runner green beans, the 4 celery plants we have been growing all season (We also kept the best looking leaves which we throw in a freezer bag and use when making stock). Also field peas and butter beans, yellow squash, tabasco peppers, bell peppers, serano, jalapeno, habenero, and cayenne peppers. Cilantro (fresh for our asian bbq we made this week).


The old dutch half runner beans were still producing flowers (the plant that would not give up), but we have more than enough beans canned now, so we pulled them up. Yes, we did report “the last” of these beans last week, but this harvest was all the beans we found while pulling up the plants and removing the leaves.

We trimmed off the broccoli & cauliflower leaves that had been damaged by caterpillars early on. The new growth is looking very good. We removed the watermelon and winter squash vines. Although the plants were looking fairly decent and still were flowering (mostly male flowers) the chances of them actually producing anything at this point was slim and none since average first frost for us is October 23. We seeded 2 of the small square boxes in the front yard with leaf lettuce and 1 box with French breakfast radishes. At least with these we have a good chance of getting production from the boxes.  There  is one box of dutch crookneck winter squash plants remaining, with one small female fruit – we’ll see.

Blanched and drying

Shelled field peas

Peppers & Onions cooking down

Most of the celery was diced, blanched, and frozen. We also froze the water we blanched the celery in, as we discovered that it also helps make good stock, particularly when added to chowders. We also blanched and froze 5 more bags of field peas (that’s 5 dinners), bringing our total for the year to 33 bags. We’re looking forward to eating them this winter. Hopefully the second flush of butter beans will be productive as we have only 8 bags of butter beans so far (though we have been eating them fresh weekly). We used a lot of our fresh peppers and some of our onions to make a “chutney”-like condiment to add to meals in the next week or so.  I sweat them down for 30-45 minutes on low heat, adding paprika and tomato paste, salt, pepper, and other herbs and spices – when they’ve cooked down and caramelized nicely they’re ready.  We also made more refrigerator pickles with the new cucumbers.

It’s like a hitchcock movie in miniature.

Our parsley, our dill, and some of our other stuff gets periodically attacked by the caterpillars of the swallowtail butterfly. Since she is the one who squishes bugs the most, and since she has a soft spot in her heart for these recognizable butterfly caterpillars, they are allowed at times to feast.


Beets coming up

Carrots coming up

Cherry bombs on the vine

Early Fall Garden

What a Lemongrass plant!

The pepper jungle

Tabasco peppers

Thai Hot Peppers !

See you next week!

5 August Weekly Update

August 5, 2012

A harvest


3 potatoes that became uncovered after heavy rains, followed later in the week by a whole half box of kennebecs; tomatoes (lots); 3 types of green beans; peppers* of all kinds; monkey tail field peas and the first of the running conch field peas; butter beans; 2 cucumbers; various herbs.

and Another day’s worth of picking

They’ve been coming in like this for weeks now

After awhile a lot of of them start to look the same

Yet some more!

All put together, they show quite a lot

Green beans


Yes, more green beans

Butter beans! (after shelling)


*So many peppers are coming in that it’s easier than trying to detail varieties.

our first fig, albeit a bit blurry

We ate a Fig! The birds are getting most of the rest of them, alas. They have a tendency to eat them just before they’re actually ripe and we don’t have many this year. But next year we should have oodles. We have Raspberries! We didn’t even realize they were ready; actually we didn’t realize there were so many! After all this is the 1st year we’ve put the canes in. And the canes are already spreading and coming up throughout the box.

Raspberries! A new color for us!

This week we canned: 5 pints of tomato sauce, 6 pints of haricot verts, 3 pints of green beans, 3 pints of hot pepper mash, and 2 pints of chopped roasted sweet peppers.

Most of the eggplants are doing better and setting more blossoms. One has an actual eggplant growing.

The carrots we seeded on 7/22 are germinating, as are 2 of the 4 cabbage seeds we planted in situ.


The charentais have made a couple of melons! We’re going to try to save them from the critter thievery that occured last month. And we have 2 moon & star watermelons; we’ll try to wrap them in plastic netting as well. Three more winter squash are forming; one is in the middle of our front walkway. We removed the patty pan squash plants as their production had fallen to nothing and powdery mildew was starting to set in.


Squash and Melon


Where the squash were we worked the box and planted more butter beans. With a bit of luck we’ll get some before the frost kills them. Either way, just growing legumes apparently improves the soil because they are nitrogen fixers.

We did some general cleanup including removing dead dill plants, cutting dead/dying leaves from the cucumbers, and some mowing in the aisles, plus various weeding in boxes. Note:  when weeding raspberries do it slowly by hand so as not to damage any runners.

The tomatoes are noticeably slowing down and the plants are looking fairly rough.

Except for 2 plants all of the first planting of the haricot verts have now been pulled up. Now the 2nd planting is coming into season big time.

Cilantro in a porch box – a bit spindly due to location

Lettuces in a porch box

Roasting Peppers in an Iron Skillet

Lastly I just had to put in this picture I took of me arranging sweet peppers in the skillet as I began to roast/sear them for canning.

15 July Weekly Update

July 15, 2012


Cucumbers, tomatoes, 3 types of green beans, cayenne and cherry bomb peppers, red pontiac and kennebec potatoes, all the rest of the carrots, a couple of squash, and the first eggplant of the season.

A round through the garden

Another round

Next day

Just a few tomatoes, this time



Yet another harvest

We dug enough potatoes to make a batch of potato salad (southern, cold, traditional) and mashed potatoes for a lamb shepherd’s pie (yummy dinner!)

Taters, precious

The oldest haricot vert plants have set their second flush of flowers and the newer box is starting to set its first flush. Additionally, the butter beans are starting to set pods, as well as the Monkey Tail field peas which were planted before the Running Conch field peas (all of which are pushing the boundaries of their boxes).

The tomatillos we’ve harvested thus far yielded a pint and a half of salsa verde. We also used our own jalapeno, cayenne, and cherry bomb peppers; onions; and garlic to make it. We chose to refrigerate this instead of can it, so we can use it soon. We also processed a counter top full of tomatoes into sauce as the tomatoes are producing nicely rightly now. This also got refrigerated, and we ate some this past week and will eat more this week.

We did a bitterness taste test on the cucumbers and drew the following conclusions (albeit using a small sample size): a mishapen cuc is more likely to be bitter, especially if it is a lot smaller at one end; the blossom end is more likely to be bitter. In fact, several of the cucumbers we tried were fine at the vine end but turned bitter half way down. These observations lead us to think this is a watering / weather issue.

On Monday night we finally got the rain we’ve been hoping for, a whole 1.5 inches. By Thursday am we’d had 3.5 inches.  Drought. Insects. Flood. Too Hot. Drought.  Too Cold. Flood. Farmers always have something to complain about, that’s for sure. And one of those things is:


We came home Tuesday to find the remains of a melon on the front walk, mostly just a few seeds left. Every other melon in the front was GONE! Except for this half-chewed remnant in one of the boxes. We have declared “death to the raiders!”, if we can only figure out who/what did it. I’m betting on the squirrels actually, but it is very possible that a possum or raccoon did it as well.

Seeds on a walk

Maimed and ravaged melon

A grieving and bereft melon plant

The yellow squash plants are on the verge of being removed; we got more fruits this week that didn’t make it than did.

We planted seedlings last week on Saturday, as we reported, and promptly forgot about them. By the time we looked at them Thursday morning, they had all germinated (very very quickly) and had started growing up in the dark and are now spindly. We immediately set up the light system so hopefully they’ll make it in the long run. Also, most of the blue lake bush beans we seeded on Saturday were up by Thursday as well. As were two of the three dutch crookneck squash seeds. And by Friday afternoon the 3rd one had come up.

This is a tomato box in July, unpruned.

Tomato Box

This is what the adjacent box looks like after spending over an hour pruning it, removing dead and dying foliage.

Pruned Tomato Box

On the vine


More peppers

Lemongrass (not a pepper!)

Peppers like edible ornaments

13 May – Weekly Update

May 13, 2012


The sheer variety of flowers we get through the course of the year remains a surprise to me. Most of them were planted before we moved here, and we’ve just continued to add to total.


Garlic scapes, lots of ’em. And we are in Peas! Snow peas, English Peas, Sugar Snap peas all got multiple pickings this week. Yummy!

Scapes & Peas

Two small broccoli heads, not a lot, but tasty. Part of a Yellow squash. Yup, you read that right. One squash didn’t get fully pollinated so we cut off the part that wasn’t forming right and kept the rest. Lettuces.  4 “test” carrots from thinning.

Peas, broccoli, squash

We sprayed the eggplant with neem again. Our last year’s post about eggplant at this time of year reminded us that we had covered the plants with row covers until the plants were fairly large to help protect them from flea beetles. We didn’t think of that for some reason this year -live and learn- and the plants are a bit stressed by the flea beetles.

Also looking at last year’s posts I realize we were already battling cucumber beetles and stink bugs in large numbers. This year (knock on wood) we haven’t seen either pest yet.

We had significant rainfall on Wednesday – 1.5 inches in less than an hour. It beat down a lot of the plants, but most of them are recovered already. We started 18 winter squash inside – 3 different varieties. Once more into the breech, my friends. We also restarted 4 melons that didn’t come up. The rest of the melons (14 starts) are doing well and will be planted out at the end of May or the beginning of June.

New compost “bins”

We moved one of the current compost piles into the new “bins”.

Also we added another row of horizontal twine to one of the pea boxes – about 2 feet up from the 1st row of twine to keep the peas up against the trellis better.

Garden 1

One of the overwintered cauliflower plants was done and we removed it. Also sprayed BT on the Kale which had a lot of little hatched caterpillars that come from the white moths you see in the garden in the early spring. The cucumber plants are growing well as are most of the pepper plants. It hasn’t been consistently hot enough for the peppers to really take off. Our little over achieving jalapeno plant already has 3 peppers growing! It was flowering in the basement before it got even hardened off, much less transplanted.


Several of the tomatoes are flowering and many of the potatoes have set buds. The tomatillos are producing little lanterns like crazy.




Garlic is starting to turn a bit brown at the edges and the onions are bulbing.

Potatoes – Onions

We have several yellow squash fruits that look like they’ll make actual squash. With a bit of luck we’ll harvest our first real squash for the season later this week.


More squash

A nice blueberry cluster on one of our plants:


Celery, ready to harvest whenever we are

Peas Peas Peas!

Black Peppermint

Creeping Thyme

Side Garden

6 November 2011, Weekly Garden Update

November 6, 2011

Dried Serrano Peppers

Dried Cayenne peppers

And you thought the peppers were done.  So did we, but the day after the 1st frost, we went out and while pulling up pepper plants found deep within the jungle-thick foliage another whole pail of peppers, luckily(?) unaffected by the frost.  I’ve subsequently been drying peppers in the oven all week.

November Harvest

We thinned the beets and the carrots this week, and have harvested lettuce.  The lone melon wasn’t mature when we cut it open (sad face here).  We got a few more tabasco peppers off before the continuing below 36 degree nights killed the plants, and lo, we dug up some volunteer potatoes.

New Compost pile

We have started a new hardware cloth compost heap.  The old one is quite full, and as you can see we’ve already made quite a mound of stuff we pulled up this week (mostly pepper plants by volume).  This brings the composting total to:  2 hardware cloth open frames, 1 black plastic “earth machine”, and the worm farm, as well as periodic piles of leaf mulch.

Stacked Trellises & Posts

We’re trying to be more organized this year with stacking the trellises so that in the spring it will be easier to snake out just what we need at any given time without having to move a whole stack of them.  Ditto for the t-posts.  It takes less than an hour to break down and store all the trellising in the garden.

November Garden

In addition to pulling up a LOT of plants, we’ve started working several beds with the garden fork to turn over the soil and de-weed them.

Front boxes

This blog has been a success for us, in several ways.  The primary way is still as a visual and written means of cataloging our progress on the garden.  It’s very useful to see this year exactly when we harvested the 1st (insert veggie here) last year.  And the weekly snapshots of the garden make it easy to actually see how things are improving (or not).   It assists with garden planning in a variety of useful ways, and the weekly postings reinforce our sense of accomplishment.  We’re surprised by the number of people who read the blog and who they are.  More people we don’t know read it than friends and/or family, which runs counter to what I’d initially thought.  We still get more hits on the recipes than on the garden posts, but the garden posts get way more comments with much better feedback, and we interact more with the gardening folks.

Side boxes



30 October – Weekly Garden Update

October 30, 2011

Sweet Peppers!

It got down to 31 degrees last night here, our first dip below the 32 degree mark.  With not only the “whethermen” heralding a freeze last night, but our friendly local farmers suggesting that it was going to freeze we got out yesterday afternoon and picked everything that we didn’t think could survive a frost.

Hot peppers

The last harvest of the season for our eggplants (they were still flowering), green beans, butter beans, field peas, and peppers (again with the flowering).   We pulled up the eggplants, green beans, butter beans, and field peas, and started on the pepper plants but we ran out of time and wanted to focus on getting the pickings inside.

Cayennes - prepped for drying

We have another frost warning for tonight.

The pictures of these peppers don’t really convey the quantity we got off the plants yesterday.  We have 8-10 gallons of peppers easy.  One whole tray of just cayennes to dry, and another of serranos.  Jalepenos.  Cherry bombs, habaneros, anchos, anaheims, italian rellenos, various bell pappers.  We have lots of undeveloped tabascos still and these are the only pepper plants spared yesterday.  I don’t really expect them to survive but I’ve harvested tabascos twice this year already and if perchance they make it, I’ll have a lot more later.

Bucket of mixed peppers

Large pail of Peppers - Anaheims, Italian Rellenos, etc.

Cherry Bomb peppers

Earlier in the week we have picked:  Tomatillos, dill, 1 small watermelon ripeness unknown, old dutch half-runner green beans, butter beans, field peas, eggplants, basil, cilantro, parsley, swiss chard, and several different lettuce harvests (we’re in the green with salads again).

Butter Beans

Field Peas

We removed the tomatillo vines earlier this week as well.  Two of the five had already died.  The last harvest of tomatillos yielded even more than expected, and we got 5 pints of salsa verde out of them.



Peas & Butter Beans

Eggplants, peppers, green beans, etc.

More peppers, including green habaneros


More lettuces

Swiss Chard

A day of fall harvest

Lone melon

We removed the broccoli raab plants.  They were flowering very quickly, plus we’ve decided we prefer other greens.   We picked the only melon, and pulled up all the melon vines (it has been an awful melon year for us).   Aphids continue to be a problem for some of the collard and mustard plants.  We sprayed with Neem again, making sure to get all sides of the leaves on the heavily infested plants.  Radish plants that haven’t started making radishes got yanked.  Some of the beets are “bulbing up”, and we have high hopes (like the famous ant) that we’ll get actual beets this try.

We mowed some leaves, just enough to put a light covering of leaf mulch over the garlic beds.

This year we canned some snow peas and sugar snap peas.  Our consensus is that they don’t can as well as green beans — good for putting in stir fries and maybe soups, but not something that holds up well by themselves.

23 October — Weekly Garden Update

October 23, 2011

I keep expecting Fall to get into full swing, and it keeps being tentative.  Sure, some leaves are falling, temperatures are no longer in the 80s, and there is some color to the trees, but as an event Fall has been pretty much a no-show so far this year.  We haven’t even had a frost yet.  Given that Fall and Spring are my favorite seasons, this means I end up looking wistfully out of the window fairly often.

The hummingbirds are gone for the season — we haven’t seen a hummingbird in several weeks now.  I’ve gotten a craving for a turkey sandwich, but with Thanksgiving coming up next month there is no way we’re cooking a turkey this month, so I just have to wait.  I dug out “The Old Man and the Boy” this week and reread it for the umpteenth time:  Fall features heavily in the book, so I got some vicarious pleasure there.

We went to the NC State Fair yesterday.  As usual we never played a game or rode a ride on the midways.  Instead we do a walking tour of our favorite stuff to eat while spending much time in the agricultural exhibits.  Our perennial favorites include the goat show, the dairy cow show, the rabbit barn, various other animal exhibits, the flower show, the various arts and crafts exhibits (including the competitions like canning & preserving, baking, sewing, quilting, cake decoration, etc), and the Village of Yesteryeare (all vendors are hand craftsmen covering a wide variety of skills).  We saw a duck as big as a goose yesterday, and got draft rootbear, and had a grand old time.



Radishes, tomatillos, field peas, butter beans, greens, peppers, green beans, long purple eggplants, black beauty eggplants, basil.

Beans & Peas


Pile of Vegetables

And some more...

I canned 7 pints of sweet red peppers this week.  This time I tried chopping them before canning them.  One jar didn’t seal, so we put some of the canned peppers on our pizzas last night, and they were good.  Hopefully they’ll be just as good in 6 months.

Most of the green tomatoes have been ripening on the counter — a few have been tossed, but the vast majority have been doing well, making for fresh tomatoes on biscuits in the past week as well as tomato/basil/mozzarella salad.


The Garlic is coming up in both boxes!  All of it looks great.

Again this week we sprayed BT on the brussels sprouts.  We also sprayed all the winter crops with fish emulsion to fertilize.  The last 2 cucumber plants, 1 pepper plant, and the last of the blue lake bush beans all go pulled up.





Garden 1



Porch rail Cilantro

Porch rail - Lettuce