Daily Archives: September 4, 2011

Ground Cherries and Banana Peppers OR State of the Garden, September 2011

Hey, folks.

Okay. It’s time for another garden post.

The dill and cilantro are pretty-much done for, and have been for some time. The basil and mink are still going, though, and I will need to harvest them for drying in fairly short order. I have to confess, rather to my chagrin, that I didn’t use a lot of fresh herbs this summer. I should have. But I didn’t. Next year, I may try dill again, and I’ll surely get in some peppermint, but I may not bother with anything else. We’ll see how things go.

My tomatoes, despite having been visited by some kind of weird speckling Thing (that we thought might be akin to blossom end rot) have turned out okay. I’ve still got a small heap of baby tomatoes waiting to ripen (and a handful or so that need to be harvested today) plus a couple of full-sized ones that are ready to come in. I will definitely be growing these again, possibly more of them.

The banana peppers (plural!) are ripening nicely. Give ’em a week? I will grow these again, too.

I still haven’t harvested the radishes. I need to pick up red wine vinegar, among other things, today so that I can get onto turning them into sweet-and-sour pickles (my plan is to do 125mL jars of these, plus 125mL jars of grape (or other) jelly and see what-all I can come up with. I’ll use these for trading and for DIY xmas presents for my immediate family (it’s something we do every year and, while I typically make gift baskets of home-made soap and candles, I figured I’d switch it up a little this year).

The squash is done for. I dug it up a few days ago. I feel kind of bad about this. Squash is an important plant for me – one of the symbolic (as well as literal) forms of one of my goddesses – and one I associate with having enough veggies to be able to get at least some vitamins into us through the winter, no matter how high the utilities bill climbs. So that I was unable to cultivate even one butternut squash on my balcony is more than a little sad-making. Next year, I will try growing bush delicata (or bush acorn, but I think I’d prefer the delicata), and I’ll only do one. And I’ll mix it with a few bean seeds, to help it out a little. Also: bone meal (or sardines) mixed into the soil at planting.

The beans… Lots of flowers. Very few fruits. Although, as of now, we do have about half a dozen (tops) beans hanging off the vines, so we did get something. Again, next year I’ll be mixing the beans with the squash, as I think they’ll both fare better if they’re planted together.

Not sure how the garlic is doing, but I think it may have been over-powered by the radishes.

Chines Broccoli and Chinese Kale: Probably won’t container-garden these again. I really enjoy them, definitely, but they need richer (and probably deeper) soil than I was able to give them this year. Ditto on the lettuce. I think that’s the kind of thing where you need window boxes all along your balcony and you plant one window-box per week and then harvest them, weekly, in that order, and hope they can grow back a second time. One small container of them was not enough for the kind of salad(s) I was hoping to make.

Cucumbers, as you know, bit the dust quite some time ago, but not before they gave me a good jar worth of cucumbers that I was able to pickle (successfully!) with garlic, dill, black pepper and mustard (plus standard pickling spice, white wine vinegar, and salt).
Note: Pickling them with a grape leaf is an extremely good idea. It does keep them from going mushy. YAY! 😀 I have two jars remaining, and I’ll be sending one of them to my sweety’s co-worker in exchange for some venison sausages in short order. 😀

Nasturtiums: Seem to have done just fine. I even got a couple of flowers. I find myself wondering if I can dry them, like basil or mint, and crush them up into a super-spicy herb that I can use in place of (not-so-local) cayenne pepper. Thoughts? Anyone want to weigh in on this one?

Ground Cherries: Like much of my garden this year, these were an experiment. I grew them in a fairly shallow container (about 4″ deep) and they see to be doing alright. I had the sense, in this case, to “weed out” the seedlings that weren’t doing so well early on, and I think this was a good idea, even if it felt awkward to be doing it at the time. I had a look the other day and, apparently, I’ve got the beginnings of ground cherries slowly ripening in their paper hats. Not many. Three at the most, which gives me an idea of how much fruit a given plant can bear and how big they need to be before they can do so. But still. Three! 😀
So I’m very happy about that (I *love* ground cherries, I love their citrus-fruit taste and their tiny seeds and the way you can use their paper husks for decorations. I would love to turn them into a meringue pie or a jam, and I adore eating them raw, too!) So I will definitely be trying this again next year. Probably in a bigger pot so that they have more room to grow and Do Their Thing.

And, yeah. That’s my garden.

For next year:

Scarlet runner beans OR kentucky wonder beans (but the scarlet runners seemed to do best of all of them)
Bush delicata winter squash

Baby tomatoes
Beefsteak tomatoes (or, possibly, roma tomatoes)

Ground Cherries (start early, indoors)
Banana Peppers (or, possibly, sweet bell peppers)


We’ll see what else I can come up with come spring.

Meliad the Birch Maiden