Category Archives: Gardening

Habanada

My husband, my test subject to check if my heatless peppers are in truth, heatless, is ill. His highly inflamed throat cannot handle the lightest of space. He found BBQ sauce to have a burn in it today. That means I stare at my handful of orange peppers and ponder.

My growing heatless peppers comes from my quest to add sweet peppers to my diet. I’ve had an aversion for a long time due to my distaste for bell peppers. With fear and experimentation, I’ve found that there are other peppers that do not have the bitter, overwhelming flavor of bell peppers. This is kind of like how I discovered avocado a few years ago and that I did not hate it. My aversion came from a poorly made batch a long time ago. The same goes for hummus.

My quest for sweet peppers still needs for them to be pickled or cooked. I’m discovering a new flavor profile, if cautious in my adventure.

 

Don’t forget the pepers

We are winning the aphid war. Or, I should say, the ladybugs are.

Between work, the heat, and aphids, I’ve ignored my peppers. They’ve not been bothered by the aphids. I figure that the thicker leaves and stems are the reason.

I’ve been watching one of my red cheese peppers turning for the last week. Today, as I was fertilizing I said, “Gosh. There are older peppers on it that haven’t changed?” I crouched down and started shifting leaves and low and behold, I had several changed peppers.

The realization that I had ignored the peppers hit me. The tomatoes have started to change and I’ve been focused on them. Over on the miniature chocolate bell pepper I found several peppers ready to go.

Pre June Tomatoes

 

 

 

 

 

It was only two days early but it counted. May 29th gave me ripe tomatoes on my Rapunzel. This has been my goal and I am pleased to accomplish it. I’m surprised that it happened between the cool days, rain, and the aphid infestation.

Ripe Tomatoes in May

I will admit that it is only May 29th, but this year I achieved my goal. I have a ripe tomato before June.

The aphid infestation is still ongoing. I’m going to have to poison some of the ants I believe. They are making nests under the containers and harvesting the aphids. What happens is I clean the plants off on my days off. Then I work a lot or it has been cool and wet and they explode in population. I fight them off again and we go in a big circle.

It course be worse.

The deck is looking great. The ground cherries are enormous. The fruit better be awesome. The plants are loaded with fruit but none is ripe yet, which I understand.

First Peppers

I am trying to learn to like sweet peppers. Last year, my mother gave me a piece of a very ripe red bell pepper. It wasn’t horrible. Green bell peppers make me want to vomit a bit. This was not awful and it started me on my quest for tasty sweet peppers.

This year I am trying the miniture chocolate bell pepper, red cheese peppers, and heatless habanaro called habanada.

This is a red cheese pepper. I have a few other peppers peeking out on their plants. It looks like it will be a good year.

Recovery

On the 13th I dropped my plants. I was very, very annoyed and mad. I was mad at myself. I was trying to do a lot before I ate anything and right after waking up. I broke one of my Sungolds and for a moment I was going to throw it away.

Instead, I figured that I’d give it the chance to recover.

That was the broken stem. I incorrectly attempted to root the old top. That shriveled up and died. I did learn some about rooting.

Here it is today. I just planted it out. It is half the size of everyone else and it has grown two main stems. It is a strong, healthy looking plant with great roots. I expect an explosion of growth over the next few weeks now that it is moved to a bigger container.

I’d have moved it earlier but my time has been rather hectic. I’ve not had the energy to go out late and night to go shopping and avoid traffic. My days off have not actually been days off. Still, we’ve gotten there.

Next is setting up my drip system. I purchased new hoses. I made the mistake of not pulling my hoses in for the winter and the seals are all blown.

Gardening Woes

Over on reddit I sometimes hitchhike on a friends post on dog related topics. One point that I have made over and over is that we tend to be perfect on social media at the expense of the ugliness of truth. It leads people to wonder what is wrong with them for not having perfect lives.

On Saturday, I dropped one of my trays of tomatoes. I woke up and decided to take them outside to enjoy the sunshine before I ate anything. On my 4th and final run, I missed a step and lost the tray. I caught it and we kind of slid down into a puddle but the plants look like someone punched them in the face. My Sungold snapped off at the base. It has not been a pretty scene and I was pisssssed.

It was just as the weather turned for the better. I decided to start planting them out because on the same day, I saw that my Rapunzel had produced its first flowers.

But my poor Sungold. I have  two and now I have one and a quarter.

The fortunate part is that the Sungold snapped off at a point that left two branches. Each of these is growing a new growth head. Normally I’d pluck these off as suckers. This time, I’m holding onto them because they mean the recovery of this plant.

For a moment I debated going and getting one from the garden center. Instead, I decided to push my abilities and try to have my plant recover.

And it is. As sad and tattered as it looks, I’ve left it alone. Pruning causes stress and the plant has enough wounds to hell. But in the center against the stalk you see a new growth head. That will hopefully become a new plant.

Hardening off 2017

There are times when the immature part of me giggles at terminology. Hardening off means to introduce the plant to the natural elements in a series of stages. A plant that germinates inside is used to a very controlled environment. The artificial lights, still air, and stable temperature makes the plant fragile. A plant does not waste energy on useless things and being tough is not useful unless it is necessary.

That is why these plants, at a tender age of 4 weeks, must go outside. But, I should not just throw them out. I did do that before and it worked. They didn’t grow for about two weeks while they struggled. After that two week point they had toughened up enough to start to grow.

The next year I started to harden them off. That means taking them outside for an hour or two the first day. The same the next. Gradually, over a week take them out more and more. By the end of the first week the damage will show. They will have sunburn. Branches may have snapped. Leaves are ripped from the movement. Stems are lopsided and growth has slowed or stopped. But, after that first week they start to pick up. The stem hardens and thickens. It loses the soft, pale green skin for a darker, more wood like consistency. The leaves enlarge and grow thick. The root system broadens to give the plan support.

Now, the plant is ready to go outside. I start hardening off on April. This means that the plants are ready to move outside by the time the frost dates are past. I will eventually leave them outside from morning to night, bringing them inside for the cool nights until the weather has reached a point that they can be moved out to their containers.

2017 Seedlings

I planted the seedlings on the 26th of February. I wanted to wait but my excitement bit me. The overly warm winter has set the trees to flowering. The chances of an early warm spring is here and it may mean moving my garden out weeks early.

My setup is a bit neater this year. Last year I had lights hanging under my craft table and crawled on the floor to do anything. It was amusing but very impractical and a pain in the but when we started to harden the plants off with trips outside.

 

This year I purchased a cheap storage rack to hold the trays. My main criteria was shelf height. Lowes wound up being the winner with a plastic shelving unit with plenty of height. I use a space heater to warm the room. This is my spare bedroom which is a closet for my work clothing, crafts and our linen.

Once my unit was together I played with ropes to hang the lights. The lights are longer than the rack. I am okay with it but things are a touch awkward because of it. I could buy grow lights but the moment you search for plant specific lights the price tag jumps from twenty dollars to sixty. It is the similar fate of all hobbies.

The Rapunzel were the first tomatoes up. This is a type that is new to the market. I believe this is its second year on the market. I picked it up because it is supposed to have trellis that trail forty cherry tomatoes long. That sounds super fun. I am pleased that they both germinated within hours of each other.

My lights are on a switch that talks to a cute switch on the wall and lets me turn them on and off with a button click. I turn them on when I get up and off when I get home. The plants get about sixteen hours of light with a rest period.

The rest of them have slowly worked their way up. The common wisdom when planting is to plant 3 seeds per tray and keep the strongest. I decided to plant one seed per tray and see what happened. My results? One seed did not germinate. That is the Brandywine hybrid.

The Brandywine hybrid I have a lot of hopes for, so I planted a second seed. My hopes are thus: I loved the Brandywine tomatoes I got last year but the plant produced about 6 large, beautiful, delicious fruit. It looked like crap the entire year and struggled in a pathetic, anemic haze. I got a hybrid to add some vigor to the plant. In my container environment I have to weed out plants that struggle.

What a difference a week makes. I have a fan blowing across the seedlings. This helps the soil to dry out. I prefer to add water then have the soil stagnate and mold. The first true leaves are in and the second is coming along.

This year I decided to try miracle grow seedling starter soil. It is doing well, it drains well, and the seedlings are thriving.

The only tomatoes I am waiting on are my ones from the University of Florida.  If you are interested in the source of food, the story of the Garden Gem is interesting.

Over in the second tray the peppers have started to pop up. I planted them a solid ten days behind the tomatoes. They have a longer germination time.

I am also trying Ground Cherries again.I have been fretting that I should have added more seeds. I am pleased to announce that I went up to check on them and I have a tendril of green breaking through.

Garden 2017 is off to a great start.

19 days silent

I am a bit ashamed of my silence. I have not actually been quiet. I have some random half written posts. Work, as it has been for the past few months, was horrid. That was compounded by the fact that I may lose my position. Then I got a cold. As I worked through the cold, I was about to go on vacation and had so much to get done at work before I left. Then, vacation where I kept a hand written journal.

Now I am back and need to catch up. But right now, I am trying to organize my seeds as part of cleaning up my desk which is a developing disaster area with new year stuff.

I had to send some items back. I had to fill out property tax stuff. I have stacks of seed packets trying to vanish. I even have an unopened box that was a random purchase. I’m a mess and not the type of mess that I planned to be at this time this month. I had hoped to be finishing my writing revisions. I had not planned to get horribly sick or have so much overtime at work that I my creative ability has drained from my ears.

Vacation was nice and I will write a series on that shortly.

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This is my little seed organization attempt. It is going quite well. A lot of cutting and shaping to fit into the pouches.