May 29, 2006

The Garden Grows

I was out in my salsa garden to give the peppers and tomatoes a good watering and was pleased to see the plants progress. The weather has taken a turn toward more normal heat and sunshine and I'm glad to see it! There has been far too much rain this spring for my comfort. The beds do not need weeding, however some of the pathways are being over run with grass and vines. I might use an organic solution to get rid of them and to encourage no further weed growth. I want to be careful to not do anything that would upset the organic balance of my vegetable beds.

I have many new pepper pods forming out on the plants. Many fresnos, hungarian wax, salsa garden, and cayenne to name a few. None of the pods have matured, but it is still very early in the game. The two tomatoe plants are overrunning the 3'x 3' bed and I am seeing more green tomatoes in there. Again, no sign of a ripe fruit as yet.

I have been researching a machine to help me process the peppers and tomatoes. I'm thinking about getting a "magic bullet" to chop and create salsa and guacamole....or simply to mix cold drinks for the summer. I will need to get my canning equipment together as well. I am planning on doing a great deal of pepper pickling this fall and creating sandwich relishes and salad goodies for our winter and perhaps some new varieties of hot sauce to enjoy.

May 25, 2006

New Pods are Forming

My chile peppers continue to flourish. Several of the plants are now sporting tiny pods. Little fresnos, hungarian wax peppers, salsa gardens and cayennes dot the tops of the plants. There is a little gypsy frying pepper growing too. It is only 2 inches long, so I wonder if it will reach full size?

More cutworm barriers have been removed from around the chile plants. Only the congo black habanero has a protective ring around it. It is putting out lots of new leaves so I have hope that I can free this last pepper within the next week.

My two tomato plants are doing well. The Celebrity Tomato has all but taken over the 3'x3' bed, but the little roma tomato is holding its own. Both should give me more than enough fruit for homemade salsa this season. There are a couple of green tomatoes out there, hopefully they will ripen soon.

May 11, 2006

Chiles Continue to Grow

Now that the planting is done, my garden has settled into a quiet, growing phase. As I was out watering my raised bed this morning, I noted that the plants are all getting bigger and stronger. So far, the spacing is working well and I have not had to stake any of the peppers, although I suspect that I will have to do so with the bells later in the growing season. The deeper soil level of this year's raised bed seems to be having the desired effect. The plants are more stable and able to hold their weight instead of tipping over. Last year, I had trouble with most of my chiles not being able to hold their pods off the ground and I suspected it was the scant 6" of soil in the bed that was the culprit. This year, I have 10" of soil in the beds.

My two cherry bomb chiles are now of a size that I felt it was safe to remove the cutworm barriers and allow them their freedom. I still have six barriers in place around the smaller hot chile plants. They tend to grow very slowly and are still only a few inches tall. Of the six, only the scotch bonnet seems to be putting on any real height, but all the chiles are putting forth new leaves and gaining height. It is simply that these peppers are slow growers. I'm told that they will not produce chiles until 110 to 120 days after transplanting. However, once they reach maturity, I should get a year or two of production from them. Now that my new bed is in place, I might be able to successfully overwinter my more rare chile plants. I'll wait and see how it goes.

May 07, 2006

Millionaire Japanese Eggplant Planted

I've never grown eggplant before, but I've always wanted to try one. Even though it is not really a "salsa" type plant, I picked up a single eggplant at the nursery today and placed it into the bed along side the two tomato plants. Supposedly it needs 36" of space and plenty of sun. We'll see how it goes. I suppose that eggplant can go into a "salsa" of some kind!

I also planted a third pepperoncini plant in my pepper bed, replacing the pepper that I lost a week or so ago. I like that I'm growing fewer varieties, but more plants this year. Of the peppers that I love the most, I should have plenty to put up as pickles or to freeze for use throughout the year. As I planted the pepperoncini, I noticed that a couple of earthworms came up with the soil. This is a most welcome sign in my garden. I'm not sure how the worms managed to get in there through the mesh and weed barrier, but I won't complain. They will make the soil all the richer for my vegetables.

May 06, 2006

Football in the Pepper Bed

As my Spring busy season kicks in and I'm away from my garden due to business, it is always such a pleasure to return home and stroll by my vegetable beds and see the progress my plants are making. All of my peppers are growing larger and fuller. One of the hungarian wax plants even has a tiny pod on it. I have not purchased the canning equipment that I wanted to use to make pickled peppers this summer, but seeing that little pod reminds me that I need to start shopping for jars, lids and a canner.

I was dismayed to discover a nerf football resting in the middle of my pepper plants. I simply threw it back over the fence so that the child that lost it might recover his ball, but I'm starting to wonder if I will be losing pods to flying objects this year. I hope not. All of the peppers that are planted on that end of the bed are impossible to find locally except via garden club sales in the early spring. They are the bells that I purchased at the Pepper sale at the Fullerton Arboretum last March.

May 01, 2006

Peppers Grow in the Sunshine

Spring has finally arrived here in my little garden behind the white picket fence. There is still more rain than usual for this time of year, but everyone has agreed that the tide has turned and the sunny days are starting to far outnumber the rainy ones. All of my salsa garden plants are thriving out in the garden. So far, all of the peppers that I planted last week are doing well inside their cutworm barriers. They are getting a little taller and putting out new leaves with little sign of insect damage to the leaves.

I feel that removing that three feet of planting space and tacking it onto the other end of the raised bed was a good move on my part. All of the peppers are getting more sunshine throughout the day. That one section simply was too close to the juniper tree and was so shady that even weeds were having trouble getting established there! My two tomato plants are faring well in the second raised bed. So far, the two plants are alone since my husband hasn't choosen to plant anything there. I'm not sure what will end up in the second bed, but I wouldn't mind starting more vegetables over there before the summer heat is upon us. It would be a shame to waste what little garden space we have.