Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Garden on October 14, 2010

I've been away from the garden for the past three weeks enjoying a fantastic vacation in Italy and the garden looks like it. Three weeks on autopilot has made the garden unsightly but the damage from neglect was fortunately minimal. The worst of it was tomatoes that were green when I left but overripe and rotting upon my return. A pepper plant resented the heat wave that struck soon after I left. And the landscape drip system went on the fritz so one of my potted caper bushes is decidedly crispy looking and a bunch of other plants look a bit parched but should be okay.

So, let's take a look at the messy vegetable garden.

Most of my potted pepper plants are doing just fine, although you can see one here (I forget what variety) that dropped most of its leaves but still has a bunch of ripe peppers. Next to it the 2 Esplette plants are loaded with ripe and ripening peppers. And the other plants are green and lush but don't have any ripe peppers yet.

This plant shown below is an Aji (baccatum) that was growing in the pepper bed last year. I dug it up this spring and put it into a pot and it sulked all spring and summer - look at it now! Unfortunately, I'm not sure if it will produce any ripe peppers, they are all still small and green.

Most of the pepper plants in the beds are looking pretty bad, but the Morocco and Topepo Rosso plants are ok and have some ripe peppers, although a number of them are starting to shrivel.

This is a new variety of baccatum pepper that I'm trying this year, Kaleidoscope. I'm pleased to see that it is producing ripe peppers before the weather gets frosty, in spite of looking rather unhealthy.. A number of baccatum peppers are very late to ripen and I've grown a few that produced pods that never had a chance to ripen.

One of my favorite peppers, Aji Pineapple, has been looking bad for a long time, but it has managed to produce just enough peppers for a batch of Spicy Meyer Lemon Marmalade.

And another new baccatum pepper, Guyana has turned out to be a winner. This plant is looking sad now but it is loaded with a bunch of ripe peppers. I picked a like number of ripe peppers off this plant just about 4 weeks ago and put them into the freezer whole. I plan on trying another batch of marmalade with this variety.

Another winner that I grew last year and had to have in the garden again this year is Christmas bell, a mild baccatum pepper that is delicious pickled as well as raw, roasted, or sauteed.

I planted three Christmas Bell plants this year just to make sure I have enough. Last year they started to ripen much earlier, they were actually one of the first.

The sad sad Manzano chiles, they didn't like the heat.

The Frederick passionfruits are finally ripening.

Another round of Andine Cornue paste tomatoes on some very tired looking plants.

Cherry tomatoes keep on going....  I also found some sound Lenny and Gracie, Chocolate Stripes, and Ananas Noir tomatoes on the plants yesterday.

Across the way the Sweetie Baby Romaine lettuce is shooting up. They aren't tasty to me at this point but the chickens don't care, they still love to munch them.

There's Portuguese Dairyman's kale volunteering where last years plants  dropped seeds this spring. I harvested a bunch for dinner last night and it was delicious braised with some olive oil and garlic and mounded on toasted rustic bread and topped with a fried egg. Way up in the top right corner of the photo the dead chamomile plants can be seen, I picked blossoms from those plants for most of the summer. That little tiny patch produced enough to keep me in tea for most of the winter.

This was a wonderful surprise, a perfect looking Diamond Eggplant. I stripped the plants of any fruits that were larger than an inch long just before I left three+ weeks ago and the little babies that were left then are a perfect size now.

I also stripped the Malaysian Dark Red plants and now there's a bunch of them again, some even got a bit too big after only three weeks.

Here's where the garden starts looking really sorry. The bean plants are mostly done, the Garafal Oro romano plants on the right are producing a few little  beans that should be pretty good, but the Petaluma Gold Rush and Turkey Craw plants have dropped their leaves and are covered with dried and drying bean pods.

Petaluma Gold Rush beans

Turkey Craw beans

The cucumbers, zucchini, melons, and winter squash have succumbed to powdery mildew.

I think the Marina di Chioggia squash matured enough before the vines pooped out. I'll leave them on the vines until the stems turn brown.

This squash doesn't have the typical turban shape for this variety, it's round with a tiny little turban imbedded in the bottom. I hope the flavor is as good....

I need to start harvesting celery root, it's getting to be quite large. Last year my celery root took nearly a year to size up, the plants have been much happier this year. Was it the cool summer?

Bummer, the Couve Tronchuda (Portuguese cabbage) is bolting before I even got to harvest any. I'm going to try starting some more right away, I really want some Caldo Verde this winter.

The chard is monstrous and full of black aphids, I'm going to have to cut it done to the nubs and hope it comes back ok.

The sole surviving Summer Snowflake marigold is in full bloom. Earwigs love marigold seedlings, I had to put this plant under a water bottle cloche to protect it from getting munched.

Now that summer weather has finally arrived (it got up to almost 100F while I was gone and is in the 80'sF now) the amaranth is growing like a weed. I think it's a bit over grown now and may not be very tender, but I'll try some of it anyway.

A lovely garden spider hanging out in the Hollow Pipe of Malines cutting celery, which happens to be bolting, dang it.

Romanesco broccoli plants, please please please don't bolt now....

Testa di Ferro savoy cabbage, already producing heads, I thought they still had a couple of months to go.

Cavolo Nero, looking fabulous, It's time to start harvesting.

Broccoli in full bloom, it needs a bit of a trim.

I was wondering why the does were dashing around the hillside today, tis the season for making fawns.

Look, here's a plant that the deer don't denude of flowers! It drives me crazy when I plant something that the deer don't eat, except for the flowers.

Well, I really should get back out to the garden to start the fall clean up, but one souvenir that I brought home is a nasty head cold. Thank goodness it came on after I got home, but I really don't have the energy to deal with that mess in the garden. I think it's time to see what's accumulated on the DVR....

Ciao baby!


  1. So did you think about the garden at all when you were gone? Sometimes when on vacation I wonder about how it is doing. And sometimes I totally forget about it. Considering you were gone for three weeks, the garden looks pretty good.

  2. I'm so jealous that you were in Italy. I love Italy, it's been 3 years since we vacationed there, and I think about going back every day. Isn't it amazing how the garden grows when you're away? It looks pretty good despite being absent.

  3. Daphne, I definitely thought about the garden at times, especially when I was craving some vegetables, it's so hard to find good veggies on restaurant menus.. I'm really pleased with how the garden did in my absence, but I did a lot of work before I left to get it ready.


    meemsync, My husband and I love Italy too, this was our first time back there in about 11 or 12 years. I don't know when we'll be able to get back there again...

  4. Man do I love this blog.

  5. Oh wow, lots of beautiful things you've got going on. Italy, that is where my husband and I honeymooned. I'm sure you took fantastic pictures.

    I have a Christmas Bell pepper that is going gangbusters right now. I also started one for the school that is the size of a tree. They're yummy.

    Are you planning on sharing the Couve Tronchuda seeds through Seed Savers this year? I'd love to give that one a whirl down here.

    Also, if you can grow Marina di Chiogga, I'm sure you can grow Uncle David's Dakota Dessert. Let me know if you'd like to try some seed.

    I always love stopping by--such an inspiration!

  6. The garden looks amazingly good, all things considered. I love that you let us see the 'crispy bits' too.
    Hope you recover from your souvenir soon ; )

  7. Well the garden looks good with the usual waning leaves of autumn. Lots of nice produce. I was especially captivated by the flowers of snowflake marigold. Nice.

  8. It all looks great, considering you've been away for three weeks. I hope you enjoyed it, although it's always good to get home to the garden, isn't it? I'm glad you're getting some Espelette peppers as well as all those other varieties!

  9. For three weeks away the garden looks remarkably in good health - even the messy bits just look like a normal fall garden to me. Things are dieing back and needing removed at this time of the year anyways (at least in my part of the world!). Those turkey craw beans are really beautiful. I have not seen or heard of them before.

    Welcome back!

  10. I think the garden looks amazingly good after a 3 week absence. The eggplant looks good enough to eat! ;-)

    It's been 4 years since my wife and I went to Italy. I still think I have a few of the pounds I put on during that trip. I miss the cheese, the bread, the olive oil, and the vino!

  11. Djuna, thanks!


    Christina, I took too many photos in Italy and now I have the task of winnowing out the best, but it will be fun to relive the trip through the photos.

    I'm not planning on letting the Couve Tronchuda go to seed. I don't have enough plants growing to produce good quality seed even if I had the patience to wait the better part of a year to get ripe seeds from the plants.

    Uncle David's Dakota Dessert sounds great, I love vegetables with such interesting names.


    Julie, the 'souvenir' is finally relenting a bit today. :)


    Ottawa Gardener, I'm going to save seeds from the marigold and will be happy to share.


    chaiselongue, I thoroughly enjoyed my time away, but if it hadn't been 11:00 at night when I got home the first thing I would have done was a tour the garden... The Esplettes are some of the happiest peppers in the garden.


    kitsapFG, The messy bits are part of the normal garden, it was nice to not have any bad surprises, just normal garden messes that hadn't been attended to yet. The Turkey Craws are a new one for me this year, I get them in trade from another gardener. I'm interested to find out how good they are to eat as a dried bean, more on that later. If you're interested in trying them I'll have seeds to spare.


    villager, yeah, not bad for three weeks of neglect, and the eggplant was delicious.

    The pasta and risotto are what I miss already, we had a white truffle risotto that was absolutely heavenly. And the linguine with clams, yum!

  12. Oh, how fun, a three week vacation in Italy! Your garden looks great. It actually doesn't show the absence at all, just the normal wear in October.

  13. Wow, you garden looks great, just fallish, you must have done a lot to prepare for your absence. Everything is gorgeous, but I am especially captivated by your many peppers, and by that gorgeous snowflake marigold!

    For the first time I had really good success with peppers so I am hoping to grow more next year. I'll be reading up over the winter and looking at yours for inspiration.Hope you are feeling better soon.

  14. I love your garden tours - so much eye candy! one of my favorite things in your garden is the passion fruit. Do you wait until they are wrinkled to eat them?

  15. Thomas, I wait until the fruit falls of the vine and then I bring them inside and wait until they get wrinkled before I eat them. It takes a week or so after they fall off the vine before they start to wrinkle.


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