Casualties of the Rain


It’s started raining in California, hallelujah! Unfortunately the rain and wind battered my pepper plants and broke stems off two of them.

[image: two green bell peppers and five purple bell peppers]
[image: terrible photo of two green bell peppers and five purple bell peppers]

The purple peppers were already pretty much fully ripened, thankfully, but I don’t know what the green bell peppers were going to turn into. I had purchased a set of six colorful peppers seedlings back in the spring. Three of them went into the hanging baskets, three went into pots. The three in pots did way better, having more space and soil to live in. Since they were just seedlings, though, I wouldn’t know which was which until they ripened. So far, I have successfully been able to identify the mandarin bell, lilac bell, and chocolate beauty. I’m guessing these green peppers would have turned white or neon green, since the other purpley ones showed their color fairly quickly.

I guess it’s time to pickle! I liked the pickled pepper rings I made last year (they basically tasted like non-spicy pepperoncini), so I’ll probably do that again. My only worry is whether the purple color will leech out into the brine and make it look gross.

State of the Garden 2016

Picked my first tomato of the year! A 6.5oz Big Beef.

A photo posted by sarah (@braisinhussy) on

I didn’t do a blog-along this year documenting my garden progress, so now, at the end of the growing season, I shall attempt to recount all of it.

February 2016: started 25 seedlings. They are pretty successful.

March 2016: seedlings go in the ground. I leave on a 3-week trip.

April 2016: return to find everything got eaten by snails except for some San Marzano tomato plants and nasturtiums. The survivors are straggly. I buy four tomato plants (Green Zebra, Black from Tula, Sunset Falls, and Big Beef), a six-pack of cherry tomatoes, a six-pack of bell peppers, one chili pepper, and some chives and basil. I make seven hanging baskets and four pots. Two of the tomato plants go in the ground.

June 2016: tomatoes start to have ripe fruit! Basket and pot tomatoes, that is. Ground tomatoes are doing nothing. Peppers being slowpokes. Lydia gives me some shiso seedlings.

July 2016: more tomatoes! Still nothing from the ground. Peppers getting with the program.

August 2016: more tomatoes! Basket peppers are finished. Potted peppers begin going nuts. I start some cucumber seedlings for the hell of it. I rip out the San Marzanos because I am over watching them do NOTHING.

September 2016: the Sunset Falls tomatoes, which were marked “determinate,” start producing more fruit. Cucumber plants start producing flowers. I leave for two weeks.

October 2016: the cucumber plants are going crazy! The peppers are giant! The tomatoes are giving everything they can in a last hurrah!

Gosh I’m looking forward to pickling season! Hopefully the first frost is still a ways off (last year it didn’t come until Thanksgiving) so I have time for more ripe veggies.

So what have I learned this year? Mostly that the soil/sun situation in our backyard is TERRIBLE and if I want to grow anything it’s going to have to be in pots or beds. The baskets are nice, but doing the top+bottom load means that neither one gets enough soil or resources.

I’m thinking about joining the community garden next year. I have a LOT of seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library—Lydia and I both bought a ton from their overstock sale, and then we shared them with each other. I have at least ten different kinds of tomatoes as well as a bunch of other stuff. The community garden has a lot more sunlight than my backyard, and hopefully more bees as well. And hey, community! Maybe I’ll make friends.

First #cucumber off my plant! Got another dozen or so on their way. #nationalpicklingcucumber #gardening

A photo posted by sarah (@braisinhussy) on

Pickled Peppers

[image: pint jar of pickled green bell peppers]
[image: pint jar of pickled green bell peppers]

The weather here has started to turn! We’ve gotten a few nights of rain! It’s thrilling! But as the nights have gotten colder, I’ve started to worry about my veggies. We’ve dipped as far as 36F. No frost yet, but I decided to harvest my green bell peppers just in case.

[image: bowl of green bell peppers]
[image: bowl of green bell peppers]

Nine in all! (There’s a runt you can’t see hiding at the bottom of the bowl). I had enough to make a quart of pickles. I sliced most of them into rings, the others into strips. After a day in the fridge, I had very crisp and pickley-tasting pickles! I used a 32 oz. plastic yogurt container. I transferred about half into the pint-sized Ball Jar you see up top so I could get a nice photo.

These are refrigerator pickles because I’m scared of canning.

1 cup white distilled vinegar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp dill seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, peeled
however many sliced peppers can be packed into a quart jar

Put the dill seeds, peppercorns, bay leaf, and garlic in the bottom of your jar or whatever you’re doing the pickling in. Pack in the sliced vegetables.

Bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil. Carefully pour into your jar (a funnel may be useful here). Make sure everything’s covered with the brine (you may want to employ a weight to squash them down). Refrigerate overnight. Will keep in the fridge for several months.


[image: somewhere in the range of 40–50 red chile peppers]
[image: somewhere in the range of 40–50 red chili peppers]

My SUPER CHILI PEPPER plant has been putting out way more peppers than I can use, so I’ve just been chucking them in the freezer. I currently have 40–50 of them, and I think there are probably 25 more on the bush. I’d say we’re nearing the end of Round 2 harvesting, and wouldn’t you know it, the dang plant has started putting out flowers AGAIN. California’s got to cool off at some point, right?

I’ve been thinking that maybe I’d make some really killer-diller hot pepper jelly with them (to be served with the world’s largest block of cream cheese). I’ve had people suggest vinegar hot sauce as well. SUPER CHILI PEPPERS (it just feels right to spell it in all caps) clock in at 50,000 Scoville units, according to this chart, on the same level as Cayenne or Tabasco peppers.

I’ve been really happy with this plant! I might try to transplant it from its basket to the ground for next year. Apparently both peppers and eggplants are perennials, so I could try and keep the basket around, but I have a feeling the root systems are already fighting for space, given the size of the plants vs. the size of the basket. The SUPER CHILI PEPPER plant is pretty, with lots of little white flowers. Of course the eggplants are pretty too, with their lovely purple flowers. I’m going to have to make a decision soon about what to do with them, I think.

Someday it will turn cold. Someday it will rain.


Garden Update – June 26, 2015

4baskets 3baskets

My little hanging garden is coming along nicely. I’ve added a couple more baskets! First up is the upper-basil, lower-sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. The cherry tomato plant has exploded, it’s huge! Unfortunately it’s only put forth one fruit so far. There are a bunch of flowers though, so I’m hoping more are on the way. Basil is doing fine.

[image: indigo rose tomatoes]
[image: indigo rose tomatoes]

Second is upper-thyme, lower-Indigo Rose tomatoes. Although this bush isn’t as big as the cherry tomatoes, it’s putting out a lot more fruit. I’ve got one good-sized tomato and four smaller ones growing. And there are a bunch of flowers on this plant as well. I’ve heard these take a while to ripen. They will be dark purple when they’re done. Thyme is going great guns.

[image: super chili peppers]
[image: super chili peppers]

The third is upper-super chili peppers, lower-ichiban eggplants. The chili peppers are looking great! There are SEVEN chilis and a ton of blossoms! Salsa is in my future. The eggplants are frustrating me. This one has a bud, but it hasn’t blossomed yet. I’m thinking maybe a week out?

[image: sweet gypsy bell pepper]
[image: sweet gypsy bell pepper]

The last basket is upper-sweet gypsy bell peppers, lower-Casper eggplants. These eggplants are even more annoying than the Ichibans. I’ve had three blossoms, but each one has withered and fallen off. I’m hoping the current blossom makes it. I had a problem with some aphids on this plant in particular, but I was able to get rid of them. The bell pepper is so cute! I think another one is starting to form.