It’s Friday and time for a Garden Update. As you can see, the sunflowers are getting big. Because of the angles of the buildings these sunflowers are the only thing in the garden that I can see from our backdoor.
The zucchinis are really sporting out. The yellow summer squash I planted suddenly died after looking vigorous only a day before. A careful investigation showed the the stem was damaged at the soil line. Possibly trampled. Maybe it was the same party responsible for eating all of the carrots (that managed to sprout in the hard clay soil, btw) Or the same party who ate my beans. Same. Same. That hill will need to be replanted.
The first-planted corn is limping along already fighting the extreme wet/dry, muddy/brick-like soil conditions. The subsequent plantings to fill in the failures are struggling also.
My blauschokkers are looking gorgeous! I just love how the purple pods pop out. I can see them way across the garden. Haven’t tasted them yet, but I already want to grow them again just for the novelty of the inedible purple shells. Freshly shelled peas will be ready soon. I can see some of the pods are very plump.
We managed to finally get our first harvest, a few meager handfuls of Grey Sugar Snap peas. (more on them later.)
The tomatoes are coming along nicely. It’s hard to see in this photo, from the angles of the leaves, but the first tomatos flowers are on this plant. Woohooo!
Oh my potatoes! They look dead. The smallest plants really suffered from the reapeated floodings that plaugued them at the beginning of the month. I presume the desert like conditions are now hampering their growth also. I’m not too hopeful that they will grow back. Good thing the other rows are faring better!
My biggest potato plants are either just beginning to flower, or just finished flowering, which can mean only one thing, new potatoes and peas! This one just happens to be in the same row as the deadish ones, but it’s one of my healthiest plants!
Things are coming along nicely and as always, so are the weeds.
During a brief break in the rain, I took the opportunity to take these pictures of the garden. Since Friday we have had over 5″ of rain.
While my flip-flops didn’t work well in the mud, the plants seemed to have enjoyed the past rainy days.
The sunflowers are twice as big as the were when I last saw them.
The corn germination has been terrible. Despite supplemental water the clay soil caked very badly, preventing most of the shoots from emerging.
Cucumber seedlings totally submerged.
Tomatoes with their heads barely above water.
The potato patch has really taken off. They are also about twice as big as they were before all this rain.
The blauschokkers are also noticeably bigger and just beginning to climb the trellis.
The dwarf grey sugar snaps have started flowering. As you can see from the stormy sky, it not done raining. The Camera and I had better take cover!
Most of us grow peppers as annuals, but all peppers are actually perennials, even the species Capsicum Annum, which can be overwintered and planted out again.
The genus Capsicum includes over 20 pepper species, but most popular varieties are included in the five domesticated species, C. annuum, C. baccatum, C. chinense, C. frutescens, and C. pubescens. The species Capcuscum Annum includes sweet bell peppers, cayenne, Anaheim, de Arbol, and Jalapeno, while Scotch Bonnets and Habaneros belong to the species Capsicum chinense. The famed Naga Jolokia, aka, Bhut Jolokia the hottest pepper in the world, is a naturally occurring hybrid between C. chinense and C. frutescens. The species C. Frutescens includes Thai Peppers and the Tabasco pepper, which was originally imported from the Mexican State of Tabasco, before it was made famous by the Louisiana-based manufacturer of Tabasco Sauce. According to the TheChileman.org, the hairy stemmed peppers in the species Pubescens, which are native to the mountains of South America are more tolerant of cooler conditions and tend to overwinter best.
I found a great guide to overwintering on The Chileman.org, my absolute favorite chili resource. The first thing to do is dig up the pepper plants before the first frost. Remove any fruits and cut off all of the foliage and branches, leaving a stump. Cut off a proportionately large amount of roots and plant in a container, tamping down the soil with a skewer or chopstick. Two to three weeks later, new growth is sprouting from nodes along the trunk. Water the peppers when new growth starts to form, or if the soil looks very dry. Currently more than 50% of my peppers of putting out new growth. So at least I’ll have a head start on my chilies for next year, if not some fruits during the winter.
In conclusion, overwintering peppers is a fun experiment. Personally, hot peppers grow very well for me, with few pests, but I have terrible luck with sweet peppers. They are sensitive to temperature changes and moisture changes, which most of the times causes them to shrivel up before they reach picking size. Just this year my California Wonder pepper finally starting producing at the end of October. So, maybe next year the plant can start off where it left off. One thing is for sure, I’ll be mulching my peppers next year.
Thanks to a number of great responses on my first overwintering peppers post, I learned some additional facts about growing peppers as perennials.
What I didn’t know before was peppers do not need to go dormant to be overwintered. If provided enough light, peppers can grow year-long and fruit indoors. Patrick of Bifurcated Carrots posted about a Siberian pepper plant that fruits and even flourishes in low indoor light conditions.
According to fellow organic gardener Mr. Tummas, at Growing Groceries, it is possible for peppers to be grown for several years in the same pot.
There are also some great pictures on the wonderful blog Mas Du Diable, where blogger Laura Hudson has posted the results of her in-the-ground overwintering experiments. Laura has successfully overwintered the same pepper plant for three years. It’s massive. Check out the post.
There is no consensus on the best practices for growing peppers as perennials and material from official sources is nonexistent. It is an an experimental process. There’s nothing to lose, at least it will be an educational experience.
Thanks to everyone for commenting and contributing their knowledge.
“Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs. ” – Albert Einstein
I just harvested two pounds of Bintje potatoes from a few of my plants. I’ve been robbing the plants and from what I’ve tasted I can proclaim this to be the best potato I have ever had. It surely is the cream of the crop.
Bintje is an early yellow-fleshed heirloom potato developed in the early 1900′s by a Dutch botanist and school master who named this potato after his best pupil Miss. Bintje (pronounced Benjee) Jansma. I found a delightful background story for this potato on the blog Vegetables of Interest.
Living in America, one would not know this variety is the most widely grown yellow-fleshed variety in the world. It’s a shame too because the texture is unbelievable! In comparison, it makes the old standby Russet Burbank seem like a crude impostor. Both the vendor Ronniger’s Potato Farm and various cooking sites recommend this flavorful high-starch variety for excellent roasted potatoes and oven fries. It’s making my hungry just talking about it!
As soon as I cut into the Bintjes I recognized the smooth silky texture that was even more mouthwatering after cooking. I made some food using a mixture of Russets and a few Bintjes it was painfully obvious which was which, the Russet was grainy and almost crumbled apart, while the Bintje retained its form, at the same time, remaining soft and creamy.
I had a few difficulties with pests and I think the July planting succumbed a little to the excessive heat and drought. I look forward to planting them again next Spring in more temperate weather.