Sunday, October 08, 2006

Fall Garden Update

Oh, yeah! Remember my garden from months and months ago? The one I was so excited about and yet you haven't seen a single post on it all summer long? Well...I'll say this. It was definitely a learning experience.

First, the success stories: The basil ROCKED but I somehow mistakenly picked a small-leafed variety. It tastes great, but is kind of a pain to harvest a billion small little leaves. The lavender and rosemary finally picked up, and the mint is happy is a bee. I'm going to try keeping these herbs over the winter in hanging pots in my kitchen (lack of counterspace = need for hanging pots), so we'll see how it goes. Anyone out there have advice for keeping summer-loving plants in an apartment over the winter?!

The tomatoes were the biggest disappointment. They were supposed to be nice fist-sized tomatoes, but most of them never got bigger than a cherry tomato. Plus, the majority of them got blossom-end rot and had to be thrown away. I was able
to salvage a few, though, and they were much fun to dissect and eat. Very tart and juicy. I used a few in sauces here and there and the tartness tended to overpower the sauce. I found them best on sandwiches (well, the one whole sandwich I was able to make with my handful of cherry-sized tomatoes) or eaten raw with salt. I've been told this just wasn't a good year for tomatoes and I should try again next year. I might need a little recovery time, but I think I'm game for another round in a few months.

The lettuce turned out pretty good, but unfo
rtunately, I realized that I don't eat a lot of lettuce. kinda went to waste. Ok, no lettuce next year. Makes more sense to buy it from the Farmer's Market the few times a summer I want fresh greens.

The flowers were great. The snap dragons still haven't quit popping up. The zinneas lasted a great while, but have now all pretty much withered away in the recent frosty weather. The sunflowers were a bit of a disappointment. Next year, I think I'll do zinneas, snap dragons, and dahlias.

But the real Cinderella story was the pepper plant. Remember how much trouble I was having with the blossoms falling off before the fruit started forming? I tried giving it some nice Epsom salts every week to even out it's...well, I don't know what it was evening out (calcium? water in-take?) but someone told me to try mixing some Epsom salt in the water every now and again. I think this did the trick, because after a while, the blossoms started withering into beautiful-looking peppers. The largest one got to be about half the size of my hand, but no bigger. That's cool with me, but I was more concerned about them ripening into a yellow peppers. But my most mature pepper stubbornly stayed green for weeks and weeks. I wrung my hands and chanted prayers, unsure if it was never going to ripen fully and maybe I should just pluck it now. But it didn't look like it was rotting. It actually looked like it was just...hanging out. You know. Chilling. Catching up on the latest gossip with the other veggies. Too cool for dirt and all that stuff. So I let it chill. And then, a few days ago, I go out to water my melancholy garden and what do I see, but this!

I'm so gosh darn proud! It's now sitting in our refrigerator with all the other grown up veggies looking a bit sheepish and uncomfortable. I think I'll probably cut it into strips and the Engineer and I can eat it raw with a bit of salt. I think my first-ever pepper merits some undivided attention and I don't want it to get lost in a sauce or on top of a pizza. Hopefully now that this guy has crossed the threshold, some of its brethren will do the same. THEN I'll make some sauce!

1 comment:

Angelina said...

Yahoo! Congratulations!! It looks fantastic, that not-too-little pepper. Peppers tend to take a long season to ripen. In Boston you've got a short season to deal with, peppers don't ripen until the end. So, provided a frost doesn't come along and kill your pepper plant, the others should ripen soon too.

Were your vegetables all in pots or in the ground? The tomatoes may not have had enough water in the early stage to develop larger fruit, but if they were in the ground, you may also have some mineral deficiencies and/or some acidity preventing good growth.

As for keeping summer plants alive inside during the winter, they have two needs: LIGHT, and WARMTH. Ok, I lied, they also need water. Rosemary can easily be kept alive during winter in cold areas, but other summer herbs could be trickier.

I loved hearing about your garden endeavors. (because I'm a major garden geek.)