A garden is the best alternative therapy.

Posts tagged ‘peppers’

Baby Veggies

It is always exciting when our vegetable garden starts producing.  After a few failures in the past two summers due to pests, disease and/or uncooperative weather, it is encouraging to see the plants bursting forth with tiny veggies that will continue to grow into harvest-able crops. I’ll get to those mini-veggies in a minute, but first, BIG news.  Well, sort of.  The spring/summer garden offered up its first harvest over the weekend – a single zucchini measuring 9-inches long!  I am amazed at how fast zucchinis grow!  I literally watched it grow a few inches in a matter of two days and a few more are just a day or two behind it.  I think this one plant will provide enough zucchini for us to eat for a few months – and bigger than we’ve been able to get at the grocery store.  The first picture below was taken on Saturday.  I chose not to harvest it then because I wanted it to get an inch or two larger.

Then, on Sunday, I awoke to find the same zucchini had grown almost two inches to the size of a large dinner plate!

Well, that’s the big news.  Hey, I relish in good news, whatever it is!

Now for the mini-veggie photos!  We have tomatoes, habaneros, green bell peppers, cucumbers, yellow squash, jalapenos and what looks like cantaloupe starting to form!

baby cucumber (tied with nylon cord to tomato cage)

teeny jalapeno

small Early Girl tomatoes clustered together

healthy nub of a habanero pepper

tiny yellow squash (foil to deter vine borer)

beginning of bell pepper

could it be? a cantaloupe fruit?

All of these plants received a healthy watering on Saturday, followed by a 12 oz. cup of freshly brewed compost tea to top them off!  Here is the yeasty smelling, foamy, frothy mixture right before I served it up!


What Compost Tea Does to a Veggie Garden

The veggie garden seems like it has grown by leaps and bounds the past couple of weeks.  Here is a shot taken two weeks ago, followed by a recent shot:

Image uploaded 4.5.11

Two weeks later ...

That’s what a few batches of compost tea will do!

The zucchini (upper right of the bed) is already producing.  The flowers are always so large and beautiful.  The bees love them, too.

zucchini flower

... turns into zucchini!

As you can see by the first two photos, everything has grown.  Check out the tomatoes (top two plants on left side of bed), now flowering and hopefully soon producing:

celebrity tomato bush

early girl tomato bush

Or the yellow squash (second from top, center row):

yellow crookneck squash

The cantaloupe vines are reaching out a couple feet in every direction (second plant from bottom on right row) …


And the peppers…


bell pepper

The slowest growing plant has been the watermelon and it was planted a couple weeks after the others (the first plant died).  It is finally starting to grow more, too:


And my flowers get compost tea, too.  The gauras are just going crazy right now and the Indigo Spires salvia is starting to bloom!

The New Garden Bed

Last week, I wrote about the new garden bed I built on the north side of the house.  Although I’ve been growing veggies in raised beds in other parts of the yard for the past couple of years, I decided that I needed to do something different this season.  The main reason for building a new bed is that the veggies simply weren’t getting enough sunlight.  Vegetables require at least 8 hours of sunlight a day to be really productive and the other beds only allowed for a max of six hours of direct sunlight before being shaded from the house or the fence.  In years past, I’ve had struggles with low productivity as well as powdery mildew on my cukes and squashes.  I think the low productivity was, in part, due to the shortage of direct sunlight and, also in part, due to the extreme heat (tomatoes stop setting at consistent temps over 85 degrees, for example).  I am also fairly certain that the powdery mildew proliferated due to the amount of shade the plants received.  Being exposed to full sun all day should help this situation.  If not, I’ll be trying some different techniques to get it under control.  More on that later should the need arise.

This new bed is about four feet wide by eight feet long.  It is now in a location where 100% of the bed receives direct sunlight all day long.  If it performs well, I just might expand it for the fall, perhaps putting another 4×8′ bed next to it.  This summer, I’ll be growing tomatoes, jalapenos, bell pepper, habaneros, cucumber, yellow squash, zucchini, watermelon and cantaloupe.  I skipped the bush beans this season, but might end up putting them in the additional bed if I decide to build it for fall.


the new garden bed

cantaloupe leaves



tomato plant

mmmm, fire.


yellow crookneck squash


green bell pepper

Coming home, it’s not only me who has grown

Sometimes, a simple week away from the everyday life can have profound effects on one’s peace of mind.

When we chose our camping destination in Colorado, it was important to us to be in an area that was free of as many artificial distractions as possible.  We didn’t want electricity.  We didn’t want running water.  We didn’t want cell phone reception, Wi-Fi, internet, television, cable, radio …

It was nice getting back to the basics, to “chop wood, carry water”.   We had to haul our water in a water bag some fifty yards to our site, where we filtered it for drinking or for use in cooking, showering, cleaning, etc.  We relied on good old fashioned solar energy to heat our shower water.  While we had a propane stove for ease in cooking, we also cooked over a fire, started from flint and steel and whatever dry tinder and firewood we could collect.   At night, we didn’t have a television to sit in front of, or separate rooms to disappear into.  There was the warmth of the fire, and us, huddled around it, talking, laughing, and letting our minds entirely unplug.

I slept well despite being inside of a tent at 10,000 feet in the wilderness at 45 degrees!  Perhaps it’s because that was the first time in years my body/brain had rested without the constant bombardment of cell phone and wi-fi radiation, electromagnetic energy from the electrical currents we wire our houses with, and the unending stimulus of media at my fingertips!

There are truly important things in life, and then there are unimportant things.   Sitting on the mountain, that distinction became quite clear in a number of areas in my life.  We waste so much time and energy building lives full of man-made things, while we are largely cut off and clearly do not value as much as we should the natural world that has been the cradle of humanity since our days began on this planet.  The grandeur of the mountains has stood for all to see for millions of years, and I’m happy that man – with all of his selfishness, materialism, and overconsumption – had the sense to reserve parts of America as wilderness areas, to be untouched for future generations.

I don’t know where the path leads that our global consciousness has set out upon.  I don’t know why many people have to go through the darkness to understand and appreciate the light.  On our present course, we’re flirting with disaster, destroying our planet with the toxic run-off of our industrialized world.   It saddens me that so much of our society is completely severed from the natural world – their home!   How lost we all must feel at times, as we attempt to conform our lives to an artificial design.

Sitting in traffic for two hours everyday it is quickly apparent how many people look completely unhappy and zombified by their jobs and too many stimuli …

I’m ranting here, sorry.  Isn’t it funny how, after you’ve been gone from home awhile, your house looks different?  Something about the lighting, the colors seem strange … We all noticed it when we returned home.  Surely nothing in the house has changed.  Was it just us that changed?

Colorado definitely left its mark on us again, but we aren’t the only ones who have changed.  We returned to a jungle in the backyard.  Ok, not quite, but MY how everything grew while we were away!  The Austin area must have received a lot of rainfall.  The verbena had all but grown together, choking out the milkweed.  The lantana grew by leaps and bounds and is intertwined with the fennel that has exploded in yellow flower umbrels.  The creeping lantana is spilling out across the gravel walkway and engulfed more milkweed planted nearby.  And the beans are putting on now, and the tomatoes that were void of fruit before we left now have about 15 tomatoes.  The peppers are just chock-full-o peppers, too.

It seems I do better when I’m not trying to garden.  🙂

Texas Lantana in the foreground (I trimmed it back some) and fennel in the back

Butterfly garden bed after trimming. I didn't know verbena spread so quickly. It's branches propagate readily by rooting where they hit the ground.

Butterfly garden bed after trimming the lantana, indigo spires and butterfly weed.

Our pepper bed: cayenne, orange bell pepper and anaheim


And more maters! Thought I'd have to wait until fall!

Ring-o-Fire cayenne. Yes, they ARE extremely hot!

Cal Wonder Orange Bell Peppers (green until mature)


Baby beanlings

Every leaf I turn over reveals more beans ... (Tendergreen and Bush Lake)

Anaheim peppers - marked as jalapenos when I purchased them!

the black-eyed susans are really looking great

the spearmint bed is flowering now

spearmint flower


double knockout roses

Common milkweed is now flowering (grown from cuttings)

common milkweed flowers

Lady Bug oh Lady Bug, do you want a feast?

Spring veggie garden start

As the lettuce continues to mature, the spinach offers yet another harvest, and the broccoli is producing side shoots like crazy, I know the winter garden is almost done.  I still have a few rows of carrots going, and hopefully I can harvest them in another month or so, but I’ve already started switching beds over to the summer garden.  I say summer because Spring lasts all of four weeks here it seems.  I have transplanted zucchini, squash, cucumbers, green beans, and have sowed another round of green beans as well as sunflowers.  My peppers are doing pretty good – I’ve actually had them outside now for the past week, but they are still portable.  I won’t put them into the ground until later this month.  I have to harvest some more lettuce first.  In total, I have four orange bell pepper plants, two jalapeno plants and four cayenne pepper plants.  The pics are small, but you can view them full-size by clicking.

Ring-O-Fire Cayenne and Cal Wonder Orange Bell peppers

Jalapeno plants

Heirloom Yellow Crookneck Squash - second go (last fall was a fail)

Black Beauty Zucchini - Second Go (last fall was a fail) - also pictured: Red Sail lettuce

Straight Eight cucumbers - second go (Last fall was a fail, these look not so good either)

Blue Lake Beans - second crop (last year did good, but planted too late)

Tendergreen green beans - first attempt

Broccoli bed is really full right now

Another view of the broccoli bed

Mammoth sunflowers in the morning shade

Mini-greenhouse and a few seedlings

The large tubs of spinach that we buy at H-E-B are useful long after the spinach inside is gone.  I use mine to hold seedling pots, which makes it easy to move 6-8 around at one time.  They also double nicely as a mini-greenhouse for my peppers with little effort.  I poke holes in the four corners of two tubs using a knife, then I put one on top of the other and use binder clips to hold it together.  The holes on the bottom let water out, while the holes at the top let out excess heat.  The ambient temperature inside gets nice and warm and humid, and it doesn’t take too long to get the soil to the temperature that peppers love.   I have been letting the peppers sit inside on a window sill, but it is so nice today, I brought them out.

I have room for six seedlings in this tub.

The mini-greenhouse

I don’t let them bake in the direct sun all day – it does get quite warm in the greenhouse.  I open it up from time to time, or I just take it off after four hours or so.  Better yet, sitting on a window sill that gets part sun through the day seems to work just great.

I have a few other seedlings sitting outside today.  They’re enjoying the nice weather.  I also cut off a section of the oregano plant that had rooted and transplanted into another paper pot.  Yes, obtaining a new oregano plant is just that easy.

Sweet alyssum that I started from seed, is already flowering.

Mexican Mint Marigold started from seed. These will probably not bloom this year, but will be well-established for next year.

Oregano clone after three days.

Veggie Garden Update 10/17/09

Here are some pictures I took of the garden plants this morning:

Carrot tops beginning to form

Carrot tops beginning to form

carrot rows

carrot rows

parsley/lettuce bed

parsley/lettuce bed

Buttercrunch lettuce

Buttercrunch lettuce

cosmo savoy lettuce

cosmo savoy lettuce

Red Sail lettuce

Red Sail lettuce

latest spinach starts ...

latest spinach starts ...

first spinach starts ...

first spinach starts ...

Newest lettuce starts ...

Newest lettuce starts ...

broccoli bed

broccoli bed

calabrese broccoli

calabrese broccoli

the beans are suffering, too - the ones on the right are over a month older than the newer starts on the left.

the beans are suffering, too - the ones on the right are over a month older than the newer starts on the left.

first planting of beans, close, starting to produce flowers

first planting of beans, close, starting to produce flowers

jalapeno plants

jalapeno plants

bell pepper plant

bell pepper plant