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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Medusa Pepper Plant

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

I’ve always admired the plants with multicolored mini peppers that I see at the Dane County Farmer’s Market, so this year I bought one. The vendor had two kinds: sweet and hot. I purchased sweet, but I wasn’t convinced that the peppers would be completely mild. I thought they would be LESS spicy than the “hot” kind. I got the courage to try eating one recently, and I found it completely mild – no heat whatsoever – like a mini bell pepper. I suppose I could cook with these little sweet peppers, but I bought the plant mainly to look interesting. Because it seems completely devoid of capsaicin, I think it is a Medusa Pepper.

It looks a lot like this (photo source here)

The nights are getting cooler here, and I plan to bring the plant inside soon. I’m not sure if this pepper is pet-safe.  Most pepper plants are NOT considered safe around cats and dogs (or children), but I think capsaicin is the main concern, and this plant seems to have none. Some internet search results suggest it is child-safe, but I will still keep it out of reach of my cat.

Lost in the Cosmos

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011


Monday, August 1st, 2011

I can’t believe it’s August already.

What I’ve learned about tomatoes…

Monday, September 27th, 2010

There’s a fierce looking giant caterpillar called a tomato hornworm.  I just found two.  They’re ravenous critters.  If you find little poop pellets on leaves or around your tomatoes, you’ve got hornworms.  They eat green tomatoes and tomato plants.  Apparently I should till in the fall and spring to get rid of their cocoons and possibly spray my plants or pick off the worms when I find them.

Ground squirrels eat red tomatoes.

Tomatoes that go brown rotten on the bottoms have blossom end rot, caused by underwatering or not enough calcium.  The romas and the early girls are having a lot of this, but the beefsteaks don’t seem to mind.

I like the beefsteak kind of tomatoes the best.  If I want to make sauce or something, Romas might be the way to go, but for eating on sandwiches the beefsteaks can’t be beat.  The Early Girls do not seem to be anything special.  The beefsteaks do take a couple weeks longer to ripen.

Next year:  fewer plants, mostly beefsteak, more ties on the stakes, an enclosure to keep the squirrels out, more vigilance to spot those hornworms early, more water, plant some marigolds nearby to maybe help keep the pests away, no parsley (don’t use it), no dill (wasn’t around long)

The rosemary is happy!  I really like having it, even though I don’t use it much in cooking – I may make rosemary bread.  I would like a couple more plants near my front door too.  I love the look and the smell.

What’s cookin’ this weekend?

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

I have an abundance of tomatoes.  The early girls are still going strong.  The romas are ripening full steam, and the Supersteaks are just starting to ripen. I have to stay on top of the situation and pick the tomatoes just as they turn orange or the ground squirrels will eat my tomatoes. The squirrels seem to like them when they’re orange-red, but not when they’re still orange-green. Every couple of days I go out to pick more tomatoes:

I’m trying to work tomatoes into our dinners this week: bruschetta, tomatoes on burgers, BLTs. I’ll probably make another batch of the yummy macaroni salad with hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, and onion that I made last week with the first of the tomatoes.

I’ve also been wanting to try another custard-style ice cream. As I posted about earlier, I have been wondering why my ice cream leaves a chalky coating on the spoon and coats the inside of my mouth. High butterfat, apparently. I found a recipe for chocolate custard using half and half as the only dairy, so I decided to give that a try. So far, so good. Out of the machine it does not have the coating, so we’ll see what it does after it freezes for a while. It DOES taste strongly of cocoa powder, which is the majority of the chocolate in this ice cream. It’s good, but I’m still searching for my favorite chocolate ice cream recipe.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Monday, July 19th, 2010

After dinner tonight, I suddenly realized that I have no time to do anything this week.  I have two rehearsals for a musical, hopefully concerts on the square, and then it will be Friday.  There is no time in the evenings to make pasta salad or chocolate ice cream or go for a walk or water my garden.  I’m going to be hard pressed to stay on top of the tomato situation before the ground squirrels eat them all.

I did a little violin practice this evening and went up to bed, but then realized there’s no way in hell I’m going to get up early to accomplish anything.  I’m MUCH better off just doing it now.  So I let Brian sleep and I went downstairs to make pasta salad with those yummy tomatoes I picked this weekend.  I’m also catching up on some email and planning some other music-related stuff.  I needed to make the pasta salad so I can eat it for the next few days while I’m too busy to cook any meals and before the tomatoes went bad.

I think this is a good plan.  I am not a morning person at all.  Every morning is a struggle.  I think it’s always been that way (unless I take Excedrin for a headache right before bed.  That seems to help me wake up somehow.)

The Edible Garden

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Brian and I put in a 4×8′ raised garden bed in our back lawn for growing plants. Since our lawn is sloped, this required digging out a wedge of lawn, and the resulting bed is completely raised on one side and raised by only inches on the other. Digging sucked big time. I don’t ever want to do it again – and if there ever is a next time we will be renting some equipment to do it. We have solid clay for a back yard. It holds a lot of water and is very heavy. It doesn’t drain and it’s extremely hard when wet. When dry (only on top) it’s a crumbly mess. After we dug out the wedge of bad clay we put in some gravel and some 6×6 timbers to build the walls. We filled it with compost from the nearby county compost site.

I bought 12 tomato plants and a bunch of herbs. I’d say 1/3 of the bed is herbs and the rest is tomatoes. I have too many tomato plants! oops. I planted them all anyway, so we’ll see what happens. I made the mistake of planting 3 rows. The romas are in the middle, and I’m not sure how I’ll get to them. I also didn’t stagger the plants in the rows, so I may have a hard time getting to the romas.

After reading up on various methods to cage and stake tomatoes, I think I’m going to train them to single stems and stake them with fabric ties. Supposedly single stem means fewer tomatoes, but I think I may have more than I can handle anyway!

Salsa, bruschetta, tomato salad, BLTs, here I come!

Here’s a useful article on pruning tomatoes. I know most tomato plants I’ve seen have been about 4 feet tall – probably because of where I live. We’ll see how tall mine get. I hope that staking single stems will help them make the most of their limited horizontal space.

I bought a rosemary plant and I already have some chives – those are the only two perennials. I also bought flat parsley, cilantro, oregano, dill, and basil. I’m hoping to get a nice basil crop, but two years ago the Japanese beetles devoured my basil.


Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Not Mutants?

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Lately I’ve noticed that one particular Cosmo plant is putting out bicolored pink/dark pink flowers. They’re really cool. I also saw a dark pink flower with a white petal.

Weird – but that must just be how they grow:

A tomato vow

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Next year I vow to grow tomatoes – in pots, at least.

I was amazed to see that after months of neglect, my basil and parsley are alive and green. The basil looks like the Japanese beetles have been tasting it, but so far it’s still alive. The parsley is very short – all new growth. My cilantro went to seed, so I sprinkled the seeds over the pot. Last year I got another crop of cilantro after doing that. My oregano looks like it’s barely holding on. My chives are alive, but barely productive.

My catnip is dead – sorry Kirstin!