Monday, November 30, 2015

Harvest Monday - November 30, 2015

It has been chilly here for the past week. The lows at night have dipped down to the freezing point, albeit briefly, so the "summer" garden has officially come to an end. I gleaned what was remaining on the pepper and Tromba D'Albenga squash plants in anticipation of the certain frost. So I've got one more mini glut of veggies to attend to and then I can start planning for next year.

We had warmer than normal temperatures for the few days before the chilly weather set in. Day time highs up to 78ºF (25.6ºC) prompted the Tromba D'Albenga squash to go through one last spurt of production. Last Monday I harvested some good sized squash that sized up because of the warm days.

Tromba D'Albenga squash
Wednesday night was predicted to be frosty so I picked every remaining squash from the vines and ended up with quite a large basketful. I sliced and dehydrated the largest of them and then I made a final Scarpaccia (Zucchini Tart), actually 2 tarts since they are delicious leftover and Dave could take them for his lunch instead of his usual wedge of frittata.

Tromba D'Albenga squash

Scarpaccia is one of our favorite ways to eat zucchini, it's usually one of the very first things I make when the zucchini start to come in and we enjoy them pretty regularly while the season lasts.

I even harvested the baby squash with blossoms but ended up not saving them (enough squash already...). And there was one squash that I had allowed to mature just to see what would happen. That's not in the tally either, at least not yet, I'm not sure if it's mature enough to be tasty. Underneath the squash you can see some of the peppers that I gleaned. I haven't been spending a lot of time composing photos of the harvests lately. I seem to get around to harvesting at the end of the day and the cold temperatures and fading light just aren't conducive to arranging pretty shots.

More peppers, mostly green now, I harvested but didn't tally the green Giallo di Cuneo bell peppers. If they taste good I'll include them in the tally, but I don't normally harvest or eat green bell peppers, I don't like the flavor of unripe bell peppers, other peppers are good green, but not bells.

These green peppers are worth harvesting, nearly the last of the Padrons, these were from Monday. I harvested the very last peppers yesterday, the plants actually came through the frosty nights this week with very little damage and the remaining peppers were still good, tiny but good, we snacked on them before dinner last night. I think they seemed more delicious than ever since I knew that these were the last we would be enjoying until next summer.

Padron peppers
The broccoli has definitely been unfazed by the frosty nights. It's heading up more slowly but still producing.

Di Ciccio broccoli and Apollo brokali

It ended up being my best year for pepper harvests since I started tallying my harvests back in 2010. It wasn't just my imagination when I felt like the harvests were becoming overwhelming - the final tally is 171 pounds (77.6 kg.), 44 pounds more than the previous best year. And those peppers are going to good use now. We enjoyed Mareko Fana pepper flakes in our warm shredded brussels sprouts (not mine) for Thanksgiving dinner. And some preserved roasted peppers were fabulous in turkey sandwiches this weekend. Those turkey sandwiches were also enlivened by some chipotle butter that I made by mincing one of my smoked jalapeños and folding it into some softened sweet butter which I spread on some good rustic sourdough bread before toasting it.

Here's the details of the harvests for the past week:

Apollo brokali - 4.3 oz.
Di Ciccio broccoli - 16.9 oz.
Criolla de Cocina peppers - 1 lb., 2.2 oz.
De La Vera peppers - 1 lb., 6.4 oz.
Florina Greek peppers - 5.7 oz.
Gogosar peppers - 1 lb., 8.4 oz.
Markeo Fana peppers - 7.2 oz.
NTR peppers - 14.9 oz.
Odessa Market peppers - 1 lb., 2.2 oz.
Padron peppers - 1 lb., 2.2 oz.
Long des Landes peppers - 1 lb., 1.3 oz.
Rosso Dolce da Appendere peppers - 6.1 oz.
Sonora Anaheim peppers - 31 oz.
Yummy Belle peppers - 1 lb., 10.7 oz.
Tromba D'Albenga squash - 15 lb., 1.3 oz.

Total harvests for the week - 29 lb., 8.8 oz. (13.4 kg.)
2015 YTD - 1219 lb., 10.9 oz. (553.2 kg.)

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to be inspired by what other garden bloggers have been harvesting and cooking up lately.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Harvest Monday - November 23, 2015

Harvests slowed down a lot last week. Other than clearing out the leek patch it was just a bit of this and a bit of that.

The notable harvest of the week was the first couple of decent parsnips that I've ever managed to grow.

Gladiator parsnips
My ruler shows that they are a bit more than 12 inches long, and for the rest of the world it actually also shows that they are more than 30 centimeters long. Those tops are huge also, but now I've learned, fortunately not through experience, that the greens should be handled with caution because they contain a chemical that reacts with UV light to produce skin rashes and blisters.

The leaves went into the compost and the roots went into a batch of soup that also featured the harvest in the next photo, some Spigariello Riccia broccoli. Spigariello is a leafy broccoli but the one remaining plant in my garden is resisting the urge to bloom and is just huge and leafy. I took a look at the plant tag yesterday and noticed that I sowed the seeds for this plant way back on February 5. It was a big branch that I cut off, but after trimming off the individual shoots it produced about half a pound of tender leaves and shoots.

Spigariello Liscia broccoli
The other broccolis that I harvested look more like you would expect broccoli to appear, just on the small side.

Batavia broccoli
As I said, I cleared out the leek patch. They looked ok after they were cleaned up and the white parts and tender green parts are tasty. A couple of the larger leeks went into the soup.

Blue Solaise leeks

It would have been nice to leave the leeks in the garden to harvest them as needed over the next couple of months, but you can see below how the leaves have become terribly infected with rust. They were getting to be pretty disgusting and had to go. I especially didn't want them to be a nice new source of spores for the garlic that is sprouting in the next bed over.

Last week I decided to dry more of the the Mareko Fana peppers that I had harvested the week before.

Mareko Fana peppers ready for dehydrating

I finally got around to grinding up the first batch of dried Mareko Fanas and found that they are absolutely delicious. The ground peppers are a lovely brick red color and have a sweet fruity flavor. Removing the cores and seeds before drying them reduced the heat to a very pleasant mild level. It's a common misconception that the heat in chile peppers is in the seeds, but the seeds are not the culprits,  the heat is in what the seeds are attached to - the core and the ribs, but especially the core. I left a little of the ribs in the peppers that I dried to preserve some of the heat.

Ground Mareko Fana peppers
A few years ago I figured out a way to grind dried peppers to a coarse texture that approximates commercially ground chile pepper flakes. Instead of using my coffee/spice mill I run them through the food grinder (aka meat grinder) attachment for my mixer. I wrote a short post back then which you can find here.

That's about it for the past week other than a tiny trickle of half ripe cherry tomatoes and a few more little harvests of broccoli, none of which got photographed.

Here's the details of the harvests for the past week:

Apollo brokali - 5.3 oz.
Batavia broccoli - 8.1 oz.
Di Ciccio broccoli - 9.3 oz.
Spigariello Riccia broccoli - 8.7 oz.
Blue Solaise leeks - 7 lb., 15.7 oz.
Gladiator parsnips - 11.4 oz. (roots only)
Camp Joy cherry tomatoes - 2.2 oz.
Sweet Gold cherry tomatoes - 1.6 oz.

Total harvests for the week - 10 lb., 14.3 oz. (4.9 kg.)
2015 YTD - 1190 lb., 2.1 oz. (539.8 kg.)

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to be inspired by what other garden bloggers have been harvesting and cooking up lately.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Variety Spotlight - Odessa Market Pepper

Odessa Market peppers
Odessa Market is a lovely sweet pepper that I started growing back in 2012. That year I did a trial of sweet peppers that are supposed to be adapted to short growing seasons and/or cool climates. Even though I garden in sunny California the peculiarity of my coastal climate makes growing some heat loving vegetables a challenge. My garden is only 10 miles from the cold Pacific Ocean which tends to keep things on the cooler side around here. Summers get off to a slow start because that is fog season, May through July tends to be extremely foggy along the coast. (You can spot the tourists because they are shivering in shorts and Cannery Row sweatshirts). Here in Carmel Valley that generally means cool foggy evenings and mornings and an occasional foggy day.  The fog often clears off for the night which means that any heat that manages to build up during the day radiates away and nighttime temperatures routinely drop below 50ºF well into July. Heat loving peppers and tomatoes tend to sulk, showing their dislike of the cold nights by dropping unpollinated flowers or just growing slow. I don't even try to get any early start on solanums anymore, my target date to get them in the garden is June 1. When I lived in Santa Clara county, only 1 1/4 hours north of here, I would generally get my solanums into the garden in early April and would be harvesting tomatoes by early July. That just doesn't work here. Thus my quest for short season/cool climate peppers.

Odessa Market was one of nine varieties of thick fleshed sweet peppers that I tried that year and it did so well and is so good that it has become a must have in my garden every year.  You can see that it is top shaped and has a distinctive pointed end. They start out lime green colored and then start to turn orange and finally become bright red when ripe. Unlike bell peppers they are tasty when they're green but I think they are best when fully ripe - sweet and crunchy.

They are usually one of the first sweet peppers to ripen in my garden, this year they tied with Yummy Belles for second, Shephard's Ramshorn came in first. It's a very versatile pepper. Their thin skins make them good fresh, whether green or red.  This year the first ones got harvested green to go into a batch of Gazpacho. But I usually prefer to wait until they ripen. I like to slice up the ripe ones and use them in salads. Their flesh is fairly thick, which combined with their smooth shape makes them excellent roasters, which is my favorite way to prepare them. Most of my crop this year was roasted, peeled, seeded and preserved in vinegar and olive oil so that we can enjoy them through the rest of the year. I also made baked stuffed peppers with them one time and that came out quite well. I've read that they make good paprika, but I've not tried them that way.

The plants are compact, shorter than 2 feet in my garden, which makes them good candidates for containers. But the small plants are heavy producers, at least when grown in the ground.

This year my 4 plants have produced nearly 16 pounds of peppers so far, and there's still green ones left in the garden. Here's my Odessa Market harvests for the past 4 years:
  • 2012 - 7 pounds
  • 2013 - 1.6 pounds
  • 2014 - 10.6 pounds
  • 2015 - 15.9 pounds
I can't remember and don't seem to have recorded how many plants of each variety I grew in 2012, it was at least 2 and maybe 3. And what happened in 2013? I don't recall, but I seem to remember that a number of my plants weren't very productive, I think they were competing with oak tree roots. Last year I had 3 plants and this year I decided to go for 4 because I really love this variety.

Now, what little background I could find on this variety. As the name implies the original peppers were found in a farmer's market in Odessa, Ukraine, apparently back in 1965 and then grown in Nebraska. The original name is unknown. The seeds were first offered in the Seed Savers Exchange yearbook in 2001. That's it....

Now the bad news. Seeds for this variety are really hard to find. I purchased my seeds from Baker Creek and they have not offered seeds since then. Fedco had them for a while but had a crop failure last year. Sandhill Preservation Center offered them for 2015. And if you are a member of the Seed Savers Exchange you can request seeds from the one member that is offering them. And a web search turned up a Canadian source at Eagleridge Seeds. It's sad, because I think this is a pepper worthy of growing and saving, especially if you are gardening in a short season/cool climate region. Yikes, I'm not sure what my own seed status is, gotta go check...

Update December 8, 2015 - good news! I just received my 2016 Fedco Seeds catalog and they have Odessa Market seeds again.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Harvest Monday - November 16, 2015

The end of the summer crops is nearly in sight. I say that with regret and relief. Regret because I miss fresh tomatoes. Relief because I'm so tired of processing peppers.  You can have too much of a good thing. There was a freeze warning last Monday night, not necessarily for my locale but for the area in general. I decided to harvest all the ripe and ripening peppers left in the garden just in case it got colder than expected in the garden. And when I got to the Mareko Fana plants I decided to just about strip the plants.

Mareko Fana peppers
Those brown ones are ripe. It's a landrace variety so not all the plants produce peppers that are uniformly the same, some plants produce red ripe peppers, but the three plants I grew all produced brown ripe fruits. For a relatively small fruited pepper the plants have been remarkably productive, especially considering that I harvested the first pound of peppers as babies to use like Padrons. These are relatively spicy peppers, somewhat like a moderately hot jalapeño. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with this basketful. I'm sure they would make a fine hot sauce, but we rarely reach for the hot sauce around here. I experimented with smoking a few a while back and have dried some. I used some in a batch of pepper jam but have enough jam now to get us through the year. The skins are very thick which makes them very slow to dry. They are quite good seeded and diced and used fresh. I used one last night in a broccoli saute along with a bit of pancetta and onion - that was tasty and a nice accompaniment to the Butternut Squash galette that I made with some of the Honey Nut butternut squashes. I think I may seed and dice a bunch of them, briefly saute the lot and then freeze it in portions.

I experimented with a bunch of the Criolla de Cocina peppers. Those peppers are sweet, thin skinned and thin fleshed. They are not good for roasting and peeling but are good eaten sauteed, they become sweet and soft.  So I thought they might be a good candidate for an upside down tart, like a Tart Tatin. I cut the peppers into quarters and sauteed them with strips of sweet onion until the peppers and onions softened. Then I melted some butter in a 10-inch skillet, arranged the peppers skin side (the pretty side) down in the skillet, placed the onions on top of the peppers, drizzled everything with some pomegranate molasses and balsamic vinegar, and all of that got topped with a whole wheat pastry crust. I baked the tart in a hot oven until the crust was nicely browned and the peppers were bubbling around the edges. Once cool enough to handle I inverted the tart onto a platter - which worked better than I had expected and the tart was delicious if not terribly photogenic because the crust crumbled too much. The next one I'm sure will come out better, the crust I used for this tart was actually one that I had put together for something else and it didn't come together properly, I knew it would be too crumbly but didn't want to throw it out. The upsidedown tart was a good rescue.

Here's some of the peppers that got harvested that cold late Monday afternoon. I harvested all of the mature Syrian Three Sided peppers - those are the peppers taking up 2/3 of the basket on the right. These are extremely late ripening peppers in my garden. I'm not going to be growing them again. Not only are they late, but they are prone to blossom end rot, and quite frankly they don't taste good. Perhaps they need more heat than we get here to develop a good flavor. These aren't all that sweet, they have a strong vegetal flavor and a tinge of bitterness. I figured out the bitter part when I made a batch of sweet pepper past that had a large portion of ripe Syrian Three Sided peppers in it and the paste had a nasty bitter aftertaste - I threw it out. The rest of the peppers are all good ones including Odessa Market, Craig's Grande Jalapeño, Yummy Belles, Rosso Dolce da Appendere, and Criolla de Cocina.

The Tromba D'Albenga vines are still producing good squash. They don't seem to be getting pollinated for the most part, but the long neck portion (the best part) grows to a good size before the seedless bulb end starts to shrivel up. These are actually a good squash for drying. I've sliced a few of them into 1/4-inch thick rounds and dehydrated them. The dried squash is good briefly rehydrated and incorporated into fritattas. The dried slices are also good cooked in tomato sauce or added to soups. Not all zucchini and summer squash are good dehydrated, so if you want to try this method of preserving a bounty of summer squash you should do a trial batch first. One other squash that I've successfully dehydrated is the Romaneso Zucchini, thank goodness because that squash is incredibly prolific.

Tromba D'Albenga squash
The broccoli is still putting out side shoots. These shoots are from the Di Ciccio, Batavia, and Apollo plants.

There's a few other harvests that I didn't get around to photographing because I was racing against the failing light and falling temperature, including more peppers, some eggplant, and a few tiny cherry tomatoes. I've also been using up the the basketful of onions that hadn't hit the tally yet so those are getting weighed as I use them.

Here's the details of the harvests for the past week:

Apollo brokali - 5.9 oz.
Batavia broccoli - 7.3 oz.
Di Ciccio broccoli - 1.5 oz.
Green Fingers eggplant - 2 lb., .8 oz.
Nadia eggplant - 11.8 oz.
Candy onions - 1 lb., 12.2 oz.
Tropea onions - 1 lb., 6.4 oz.
Aji Amarillo peppers - 4.4 oz.
Craig's Grande Jalapeño peppers - 7.2 oz.
Criolla de Cocina peppers - 14.7 oz.
De La Vera peppers - 10.5 oz.
Florina Greek peppers - .7 oz.
Mareko Fana peppers - 5 lb., 3.5 oz.
NTR peppers - 1 lb., 13 oz.
Odessa Market peppers - 3.1 oz.
Padron peppers - 12.9 oz.
Peppadew peppers - 14.4 oz.
Rosso Dolce da Appendere peppers - 7.5 oz.
Syrian Three Sided peppers - 4 lb., 14.3 oz.
Yummy Belle peppers - 1.8 oz.
Camp Joy cherry tomatoes - .5 oz.
Sweet Gold cherry tomatoes - 2.2 oz.
Tromba D'Albenga squash - 76.4 oz.

Total harvests for the week - 28 lb., 9 oz. (13 kg.)
2015 YTD - 1179 lb., 3.8 oz. (534.9 kg.)

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to be inspired by what other garden bloggers have been harvesting and cooking up lately.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Variety Spotlight - Jaune Flamme Tomato

Jaune Flame Tomatoes
This tomato seems to be very popular and widely adapted. If you poke about on the web you'll find that gardeners from climates as diverse as Moab, Utah and Ontario, Canada (not to mention Carmel Valley, California) have success with this variety. And yet, there's little information available about where it came from. The usual tidbit found regurgitated at the many online seed sources, including Seed Savers Exchange where I purchased my seeds, is that it is from France and apparently originated with Norbert Perreira from Helliner and was commercialized by Tomato Growers Supply in 1997. But, do a web search for "Helliner, France" and you will, or at least I did draw a total blank. Does this place even exist? Ah, but after a bit more digging around on the web I found there's a town named Hellimer in northeastern France. And whoever Norbert is or was, did he develop this tomato, or was it passed down in his family, or did he get it from another source? That information doesn't seem to be available either. Oh, and apparently Norbert's last name is often misspelled, it's also spelled Parreira rather than Perreira.  Further digging around leads me to believe that it originally came to the U.S. through the Seed Savers Exchange Annual Yearbook, seeds were requested by a U.S. member from Mr. Parriera back in the early 1990's and then subsequently picked up by Tomato Growers Supply. I've only been a member since 2001 so I don't have older yearbooks to check to see if Norbert Parriera was a listed member, he wasn't in 2001.

Regardless of where this variety came from, it is an excellent tomato. Some descriptions call it an oversized Sungold tomato for it's intense fruity sweet/tart flavor. It's described as "apricot-like". It surely has an apricot hue and it is quite versatile. I've successfully made sauces and pastes with Jaune Flamme (also called simply Flamme). It's also amenable to drying. And it's hard to beat eaten fresh. Disease resistance seems to be good, at least to the diseases that afflict my garden (no late blight so far). Productivity is neither too heavy nor too light. It's an indeterminate grower but hasn't gotten to be too large in my garden, in fact I've been giving it the space at the south end of my row of tomatoes where it gets more space and light than it's larger neighbors. The first year I grew it I placed it mid row where it was overwhelmed and produced a small crop compared to the other varieties I was growing. Given more space and light it became much more productive. For comparison here's the annual harvests for the four years that I've grown it:

  • 2012 - 15.8 pounds
  • 2013 - 26.2 pounds
  • 2014 - 28.3 pounds
  • 2015 - 18.2 pounds
This year the crop was light because I killed the plant prematurely, but that's a story for another post.

The tomatoes are borne on long trusses holding up to a dozen tomatoes. One of the reasons I initially tried Jaune Flamme was because it is supposed to be an early producer. In 2012 it was one of the first to ripen, harvested on August 17 along with other small fruited plum and cherry tomatoes. It has consistently been one of the first to ripen in August, as early as August 2 in 2014 and this year as well. Other than this year it has produced over a long season, from August into December until the first frost.
Jaune Flamme "Sott'Olio"
Jaune Flamme Tomato Conserva

Jaune Flamme has earned "keeper" status in my garden for it's earliness, productivity, and most importantly its delicious flavor and versatility.

This is the latest in a series of posts that I've done about some of my favorite varieties. I started doing Spotlight posts a few years ago when Liz of Suburban Tomato started a Saturday Spotlight series. Liz isn't an active blogger anymore but you can still find her list of spotlight posts contributed by a number of bloggers on her blog here.  Dave of Our Happy Acres also maintains a list of his own Variety Spotlights, check them out here.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Garden on November 12, 2015

It has been AGES since I did a garden tour, the end of June to be precise. I thought I would take one last look around before we have a freeze that knocks all the remaining tender plants out of production. There was a freeze warning the other night for the general area but not for my particular location, but it reminded me that the garden can change in a snap at this time of year.

It looks a bit like a jungle as you enter. The Tromba D'Albenga squash vines have rambled all over one corner of Bed #4 and on down the path as well. They started wending their way through the spent Taos Pueblo Blue corn plants and have nearly taken over the trellis for the Monachelle di Trevios beans beyond. That's just two vines! And I've been snipping the ends off the vines that are pushing too far.

Here's a slightly different perspective from early July.

July 10
The Spigariello broccoli in the corner of the bed on the left is still there. This particular plant has had no inclination to bloom so I've let it continue to grow, although I have cut off numerous side shoots as they have gotten in the way. The other two Spigariello plants started blooming and also became full of aphids so they hit the compost long ago.

This plant has remained relatively aphid free and since I never got around to setting out the kale that I started for fall/winter production this plant will stand in for the kale.

The leeks that I had hoped to harvest through the winter are pathetic. This is after going through and stripping down all the dead rust infected leaves. What's not obvious is that a number of them have also bolted. My leek growing days are over. I'm going to pull all of these and get some winter salad greens going - cress, arugula, mizuna, maybe some Ethiopian Highland kale.

I did plant out other fall/winter brassicas into this bed. I love the big brilliant green spiral heads of Romanesco broccoli and always try to grow it, not always successfully. So far they are looking good. These don't usually produce heads until sometime in January or so, but in the meantime the plants get huge.

Romanesco broccoli
The Brussels Sprouts have finally started to size up. This is my first attempt at growing them in many years and so far they look better than anything I've grown before. Still pretty puny though...

Gustus Brussels Sprouts
I'm having another go at the Sicilian Violet cauliflower that I grew this spring with mixed results (huge funky heads). The plants are getting to be huge and even though the leaves at the centers of the plants are becoming more straplike (which I've observed indicates that flower heads are starting to form) I don't see any tiny heads yet. I may go back to the Amazing Taste classic white cauliflower that did so well for me last year, they aren't such space hogs.

Sicilian Violet cauliflower
Broccoli, broccoli, broccoli - what was I thinking?! Here's 3 new Di Ciccio broccoli plants.  And between these plants and the brussels sprouts are 3 plants each of Batavia broccoli and Apollo brokali. And between the brussels sprouts and Spigariello (passing for kale) broccoli are a couple more Batavia and Di Ciccio broccoli plants that I've not had the heart to pull because they keep producing. It's a good thing that we really like broccoli.

Around the other side of the Di Ciccio broccoli is a very late planting of celery and celeriac. My first attempt at getting seedlings going failed so I tried again. I really don't have anything to lose by setting them out, they are quite cold hardy and have grown fairly well so far so perhaps I'll get a bit of a crop. It's not like I can't spare the space at this time of year (same goes for that huge cauliflower).

Monarch celeriac and Dorato D'Asti celery
That's it for Bed #1. Bed #2 is nearly done producing for the year. I haven't gotten around to removing the trellis that the fabulous Honey Nut Butternut squash climbed through the summer. The cucumber vines need to go also. And it's finally time to take out the eggplants. Some of the eggplants look amazingly healthy and are even blooming, but they don't stand a chance of producing anything new so they need to make way for a winter cover crop of mustard.

There's only a couple of other things left in this bed including some beets, most of which are about ready to harvest. And the strawberry plants linger, even after I cut them down to their crowns which just prompted them to regrow. Planting them in a block at the end of the bed didn't work out. The area doesn't get enough air circulation so the plants and berries were full of fungal infections. If I grow strawberries again it will be in containers.

The other crop left in Bed #2 is a small patch of Gladiator parsnips. I nearly gave up on these. A lot of the seedlings were munched by bugs and the survivors were really slow to grow. But now they seem to be happy. A few pokes around the soil line seems to indicate some decent sized roots have started to develop. I hope it's not just fat tops and skinny roots...

I need to get Bed #2 cleaned out by the end of the year. This will be the tomato and pepper bed next year and I like to grow a mustard cover crop that I'll dig in as a green manure before I set out the tomato and pepper plants. The cover crop grows through the winter and then gets dug in a couple months before the tomatoes and peppers go in.

Bed #3 has been the tomato and pepper bed for 2015. I've left the cherry tomato plants since they have been producing just a few little fruits now and then and Dave has been enjoying them. The rest of the tomato plants have been removed. I've not been terribly motivated to get things done in the garden this fall. I had meant to get an early start on some favas and sow some seeds where the tomato plants had been removed, but not gotten around to it. So the tomatoes are basically done, but the peppers are still going. When we had the freeze warning the other night I decided to clear out all of the ripe and ripening peppers. Egads, the kitchen counters are covered again, just when I was starting to catch sight of them.

There's still quite a few green peppers coming along. I'm not sure what I'll do with them. Some of them are tasty green, but others, like green bell peppers aren't to my liking. A surprise frost would take care of things for me...

One of the things I love about gardening is watching the critters that inhabit the garden. I was surprised to see a couple of ladybugs in the peppers, it's been cold lately so I thought they would be in a cozy winter hiding spot by now.

I think that this is a Trash Line spider. It's spun its web in the tomato plants. These spiders create a line of "trash" composed of the carcasses of their prey, webbing, and other debris. They hide in the trash line and pounce on unwitting prey that happens by.

Back to Bed #4. The Tromba D'Albenga squash is working its way along the other side of the bed.

There's actually some late planted melon vines in the mix - no hope of anything ripening in there. Another spot to clear out. This is where I'll be growing onions next year. I just placed a couple of orders for seeds for new varieties that I'm going to trial. I have to get the seeds started now so that I have some good sized seedlings ready to plant out in January. I'm not going to be placing a Dixondale order this year. They only have the three-some of intermediate day-length onions and it turns out that 2 of the 3 don't do well for me and I don't need a full bundle of the one that does well.

I set out my garlic on October 23 and it is already emerging, you can see some of the little green shoots in the photos above and below.

By the way, the Tromba squash is making good use of its space, it's already produced 10 pounds of squash this month and 68 pounds so far this year.

There's one more up-and-comer in this bed, or would be if I gave it the attention it requires. I managed to get some Golden Sweet Snow peas and some Super Sugar Snap peas going. But I need to give them some better protection, they are busting out of the cover that I put up to keep the birds from destroying them - what is poking out is already getting eaten.

That's the garden in early November. It has escaped frost so far and has been enjoying some pretty regular but not too heavy doses of rain. The weeds are already sprouting in the path. And somehow I just don't care too much. I think I'm getting a bit burnt out by the demands of my year round garden. There's no way I can give it up, but maybe next year I'll scale back. Maybe... the seed catalogs haven't started to arrive yet.