Saturday, 25 August 2018

Six Little Peppers & How They Grew

Babies in pot size #2.

Last Christmas, I got a seed kit from son El Punko that included 6 types of chilli peppers.  Because we don't have a greenhouse, I start my seeds in April.  These guys stayed in the box until then.

Somewhere, I got the notion they'd be hard to grow in this climate, so planted all the seeds.  A high incident of germination resulted, except for the California Capsicum.

I kept 4 plants of each variety, gave away the rest, then researched what happened next.  Apparently peppers like to start in a small pot, stairstep through a medium, up to a large pot.

Rather than buy lots of individual pots for a crop I expected to fail, I decided to take my chances outdoors & plant them in a raised bed.

Then we got a hot, dry summer.  Here's what's happened so far. 

1.  Cayenne

These weren't the first to fruit, but they've been the first to go ripe.  As you can see, quite a haul going on here.  Multiply this by 4 plants & you got yourself cayenne heaven.

The very green.

I've already picked a mess, which've been chopped & frozen without being tasted or photographed.  There's plenty more beginning to ripen, though.

Getting red.

2.  Etiuda

The bells were the first to fruit & the second to get ripe.  With a much slower growth rate than the cayenne, they also don't produce nearly as much fruit.  This plant only has 2 peppers on it.


A beautiful sheen & a slight blemish that I pretty much ignored until the . . .

3.  Bull's horn.

A professional veg grower recommened that both tomatoes & peppers should be fed less often during this summer's drought.  The thinking behind the advice was that, with dryer soil & higher temps, the roots could be burned by the plant food's minerals.  I did as I was told.

Then I noticed one of the bull's horns had a huge 50p sized brown spot on it that was soft.  Back to the books with me to hone my diagnostic skills.  And there I learned about blossom rot, caused by irregular watering & lack of food.

Reprieved bull's horn.

My watering'd been fine, so the reduction in feeding seemed the likely culprit.  I tossed the 50p bull's horn, gave one with a smaller blemish a reprieve, & returned to my regular feeding schedule.

No more spotty fruit.  And maybe coincidence.  The name 'blossom' rot would indicate the cause happened during flowering.  Being pepper-ignorant, I haven't a clue, but keep on feeding my babies.  Would love feedback here.

As you can see, not so many peppers as the cayenne, but more than the etiuda.  Since these are some big bad boys, I think we've got a way to go until they're ripe.

4.  Jalapeno

Like the cayenne, these've been high producers.  I'd read they could be eaten when they were about 3-4" & still green.  However, if you left them alone, they turned black, then red, & could be eaten at either stage.

One's already fallen off while still green, so into the kitchen with it to be finely chopped & put on a cheese pizza.

Jalapeno bounty.

It tasted great - bit of a zing & really sweet.  We'll see if its taste changes with its colour.

5.  Californa Capsicum

Only 2 of these seeds germinated, & they've also been the next to last plants to fruit.

California cuties.

In addition to fruiting late, they've only produced two peppers each.  That means both the bells've been slow growers & produced limited fruit.  Does anyone else have experience with these peppers?

6.  Habanero

These were my problem chillen.  They were expected to be the tallest at a full metre, yet were the runts from the very beginning.  Once moved to the raised bed, one of them died - my only loss.

Here be blossoms.  At long last.

They've only begun to blossom, so I've no idea if we'll get fruit.  Perhaps they didn't like the high temps & waited for cooler weather to bloom.  And they're still the runts.

Peppers in bed, veg on the lawn
<= There's my Six peppers.  It's been fun, growing a new crop.  I'll be sure to report back at a later date on how they taste.  Until then, if you've got some advice, I'm all ears.

If you'd like to check out more gardens, drop over to The Propagator who not only has his own Six, but hosts links to SoSers from all over the globe.  He's even got guidelines, if you think you'd like to give it a try.

As always, I appreciate you stopping by.  Hope to see you next week.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

2 Pumpkins, 3 Questions, 4 Glads, & 5 (maybe 6) Pears

Catch me if you can.

Many thanks to everyone for your well wishes regarding the BigNoseDog who suffered a vestibular episode a fortnight ago.

It's been a battle of wills between him & myself this week.  He's a bit wobbly, yet madder'n a wet hen at having his walkabouts truncated.  When it's time to come home from his walk, he braces his terrier tank self in the middle of the path & refuses to budge.

But who can blame him?

While he's napping, it's on to #SixonSaturday - six things in the garden, on a Saturday, to quote our host, The Propagator.  In addition to Mr P's own Six at his link, you'll find SoS guidelines, should you wish to give us a peek into your garden.  There's also links in his comment section to other SoS-ers from across the globe.

This week in my garden, the rain has done away with the need to water plants.  That leaves me free to pick corn, eat all the cherry tomatoes on my way to the house, & wait for the lawn to need mowed.

Until then, a counting song.  One terrier terror . . .

1. Two pretty pumpkins

There are actually 3 pumpkins in the garden, but only 2 in this shot.

First & last to grow.

I've not done much about mildew this year, other than cut off the leaves.  Someone's sure to report me to the Pumpkin Protection League.

2.  First Question of Three - Tomatoes.

I grew my rosella cherries from seed, transferred them to vigoroot bags filled with new compost, & in time, supported them with cane cages (as seen in the background).  The tomatoes were supposed to have a smoky flavour but are super sweet & about the size of grapes.

Garden candy.

Two self seeders of unknown origin appeared in the pot containing the late, great Asian pear.  No new compost was added, but they're supported in cages.

Feral tomatoes.

The self seeders are a little behind the rosella, but their fruit is markedly larger.  Both types were regularly watered & fed.  What you think => vigoroot bags or tomato type account for the difference in size?  Another thought is that, because the self seeders started later, they were at a different stage in reproduction during the drought.

Maybe all/none of the above?

3.  Second Question - Who am I?

Last year, I gave a neighbour some plant food for her cosmos, so she gave me cuttings of an aromatic shrub that I admired.  The cuttings rooted & grew like Topsy.

While my neighbour's specimen was a narrow, willowy 6' beauty, mine grew horizontally.  In fact, mine've been so insistent about not growing upwards that they've taken their support stakes down with them.  I pound the stakes back in, but of course, the bigger the plants get, the less effective the stakes are in keeping them upright.

Laying down on the job.

They haven't produced flowers, but have a wonderful herby-citrusy scent.  Here's a close-up of the foliage.

The tips turn up.

They're in a sun trap, but are planted near the house, which might be why they lay down.  On the other hand, they're in full sun by 11:00 a.m. until sunset.

If I (or my neighbour) knew what they were, I might be able to figure out how to get them to straighten up & fly right.

Any ideas about the seed & breed of them?

4.  Third & Last Question - Empress Tree Seedlings.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my kazillion seedlings coming up in a pot where I'd planted some empress tree seeds.  I was a bit of a Doubting Thomas that they were really empress trees.  Here's what they look like now.

Baby empress?

Now that they're bigger, they do indeed look like those in my image search of empress seedlings.  And I have scads of them.  Scads.  Can anyone confirm or refute my identification?

5.  Four glads.

Some nursery sent me a sack of free glad corms with an order, which I stuffed into my large planters.  There've been much more than 4 really gorgeous blooms, but I have 4 photos, so enjoy these beauts.

Some w/the hollyhocks.

Some w/the sedum

Some are a bit frilly.

Some for the kitchen.

6.  Five (maybe six) pears.

These are my Louis Bonne pears.  This tree bloomed its little pea heart out in the spring, but its pollination mate, the Asian pear, had no blooms, then subsequently died.  Since I'd been told the Louis Bonne don't self pollinate, you can bet this crop had me dancing under the new moon.  I might even've been a little bit nekked.

How many pears do you see?

The thick trunk in the front is actually my fig tree.  The fig & the pear seem very fond of each other & tend to mingle limbs.  All in all, I've counted a dozen pears on Louise.  Pretty happy, since this is its first year fruiting.  Here's hoping the critturs don't get there first.

Seen in the graveyard on the BigNose walk - a gardener lies here.

Once again, the tail end of my Six.

I do thank y'all for taking the time to visit.  Hope to see you next week.

Have fun in your garden!

Saturday, 11 August 2018

One Dog, Six Gardens

Mr BigNose as we met him 10 years ago.
Last week, it was such a challenge to find six gardeny things for #SixonSaturday, I figured that'd be it for a few weeks.  Unless something interesting happened, of course.

Well, our ~15 year old dog, Mr BigNose, had a non-life threatening medical episode that's taken a fair amount of nursing.

I'd already been checking him for signs of life every morning, & now that he's sick . . . well, it got real special.

Spend time with an old friend, you spend time with memories.  I realised that, during our 10 years together, Mr BN has dug himself a little den in 6 separate gardens.

So this week, the gardens of Mr BigNoseDog.

1. Five gardens ago.

This is where we learned the personal quirks of Mr BigNose, including that he loved snow.  My favourite thing about this place was a small orchard that took up a quarter of the back garden.

Orchard in winter.

In spring, primrose, fritillaria, bee orchids, & leucojum bloomed under the trees.

Under the apple trees.

Montjak grazed that orchard, often enticing BN on a chase over the fence into the neighbour's garden.  Hard to believe Mr BigNose used to jump fences but, as you can see in the first photo, he once had a waist.

2.  Four gardens ago.

Comprised of grounds surrounding a 17th century rectory & 1950s era church, this garden had space enough for orchard, pond, wasteland, small meadow.  And beds?  O my, the beds, including but not limited to . . .

The Prison Yard.

. . . which was a walled laundry yard where the flowers we planted eventually grew hip high with only a small path to a breakfast nook.  Then there was the . . .

Church garden

. . . running the length of the church.  We planted a mix of flowers & veg with a good third devoted to the sweetest strawberries I've ever eaten.  Not that BN cared about them.  What he liked best was the . . .

Miles of dog-chasing lawn.

3.  Three gardens ago.

This garden came with the previous owners' cats, a stoat family living at the bottom of the garden, the marauding lop-earred bunny from the neighbours on the left, & plenty of shade cast by the right side neighbours' junk trees.

But it had a kickass pond.

Fish included!

Mr BigNose wasn't concerned about any of these things, as there was a new addition to the family.

The puppy who would grow into Mlle DoodleFace.

4.  Two gardens ago.

My favourite of the six gardens.  Even after years of neglect, the original design retained its visual artistry.  Because it bordered a small copse, we had wildlife in on a daily basis, despite the dogs & cats.

A fox family visited every night, alerting the dogs & subsequently everyone else.  Mr BN would then do his arthritic Hercule Poirot run up & down, up & down that fence, chasing fox scent to his heart's delight.

Bridge over a man-made rill connecting 3 ponds.

BigNose dug a record of 3 dens in this garden.  See how grey he'd gotten in 8 years.

Chilling by pond #1 w/the great, late Bast.

5.  Last garden.

So we went from my favourite garden to the only garden I can ever remember hating.

As I've said before, though, I'm a sucker for nearly any tree.  I fell hard for the apple tree right outside the back door with wisteria crazy-growing up it.

Blooming together

Both dogs shared my distaste for this garden, spending most of their time inside.  BigNose started watching for fox from the comfort of his green chair.

Sun struck.

6.  Present garden.

Another neglected garden - aren't they all when you rent?  Six months ago, the potential shone everywhere here, though . . . & then we got the drought.  I don't remember gardening through a drought before.

Feeling poorly on the burnt out lawn.

Some of your beautiful flowerbeds have shown me it's possible to get colour in a drought.  And while it's been an interesting learning experience, to be sure, I hope this summer's the last of my on-the-job training.

Decapitated mullein celebrates a 2nd bloom.

Trucking the moors.

There we have it, Mr BigNoseDog's six gardens.  Thanks for coming along while I visited the past decade with the old guy.

If you'd like to read more garden #SixonSaturday blogs, drop over to The Propagator .  He not only has useful guidelines to writing your own Six, but hosts links to Sixers from all over the world in his Six on Saturday comment section.

As ever, thanks for dropping by.  See you next week, if something interesting happens.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Making the Best of It

Aubergine in waiting.

The OAP Fairy Person next door always comments on how nice my garden looks. 

I'd think she was nuts, if someone hadn't told me what this place looked like when it was a grow house. 

Vines breaching the 2nd story window.  The lawn covered in rubbish, bits & bobs of which still get thrown up when we mow.  I've dug out brambles thicker'n my big toe. 

Thistles & nettles & bindweed, o my!

A horrible winter followed by a horrible summer, trying to get things growing in ground that's been neglected for years . . .

But with nature, there's always little spots of joy.

1.  Pumpkin update.

I now officially have 3 pumpkins.  About half what I'd hoped for, but a pumpkin in the hand, etc., etc.

The biggest Pumpkin Grows Gruff.

2.  Sunflowers.

Someone last week wrote about their sunflowers (& other blooms, I think) facing an edifice.  This week, that trend has hit 2 sunflowers in my garden, with one facing the fence, the other the house wall.

In a huff.

All my sunflowers are short this year, only about 4'.  But I've got blooms &, in the autumn, seed heads for the birds.

This one's not shy.

3.  Wind damage.

Last weekend brought rain & with it, wind.  There were a few battered leaves & some plant supports that needed reset.  And then there was this.


If you grow corn in the UK, you know what a folderol it is.  Then to have your baby dashed to the ground by an uncaring storm . . .

Defeat is unacceptable.

The OAP Fairy Person dropped by a lovely bouquet, so I made good use of it.

4.  Mr Mullein

Prior to the rain, I decapitated the mullein seed head in a bid to conserve moisture.  Post rain, there's new flower buds all up & down the mullein's stem.  That'll look interesting.

The rebel.

5.  Seeds

While the mullein is starting over, it's harvest time for both nigella & poppy.  The cooks are pleased, but think the poppies should step up their game to match the nigella. 

The cooks think these are for them.  Har!

6.  Sole survivor.

I had crap luck with my spring onions this year.  Very few germinated & the ones that did, bit the dust. 

Except for this one, that I stuck into a flower planter in hopes it'll go to seed.  I think it's dancing.

Short & fat spring onion.

The plant behind it is a blue daisy that bloomed once, but declined to repeat its performance after dead heading.  What a blah summer we've had.


And there's my Six for the week. 

Make sure to drop by our host, The Propagator who's managed to post his own Six, even though he's on holidays.

So when are you going to join our #SixonSaturday gang?  We're a nosy bunch & would love to see your garden.

See you next week!