Saturday, March 19, 2011

Some Like It Hot

There are many people out there that enjoy the sweetness that a Big Bertha, Fat 'N' Sassy or Pimento can bring them, but there are also those who like it HOT!  And of course by 'some like it hot', I mean peppers, not the 1959 movie starring Marilyn Monroe, though perhaps she enjoyed hot peppers as well.  And if she did enjoy hot peppers, she would have been very good friends with me.  Or at least with my produce!  I received my Google Calendar notification earlier this week, that informed me it was time to plant the peppers, so I obliged.  And while there are a few of the 'sweet' variety in there, most of what I planted is in the medium to burning range.  Because, well, some like it hot!

At the beginning of this week I made a confession to Tom.  I informed him that I ordered more seeds.  He responded with, "Is there room in the garden?"  (What a silly question, I say!)
"Well, no... But that is what this pot that I also just bought, is for!"  I answered while motioning to the pot.
He just laughed.  Every year the porch gets more and more crowded with pots of  "overflow" seedlings, so I think he is getting used to it!  These particular seeds were an impulse buy (something I rarely do outside the gardening realm) for a friend.  And while some like it hot, there are also those who like it BURNING.  I am not one of those, but my friend Jesse, absolutely LOVES all things fire.  So when I happened across some Bhut Jolokia seeds, I jumped at the chance to get some.  Which I admit, is a bit insane!

Bhut Jolokia peppers are also known as Ghost Peppers or Naga Jolokia and have a SHU (Scoville Heat Units) rating of about 855,000.  They were once rated as the hottest chili in the world by Guinness World Records, but have since fallen to third place.  For a comparison, Jalapeños normally fall between 2,000 and 5,000 SHU; and Habañeros between 200,000 and 500,000 SHU.  So we are talking about a fire in your mouth, don't touch without gloves type pepper.  Just what Jesse loves.  However, I have heard these peppers can be difficult to grow, so I am crossing my fingers that they make it from seed through fruiting.  I will keep you informed as to how it goes!

At left you can see the pepper flat that I planted this week.  Included in the flat are (in no particular order): Habañero, Peter Pepper, Rooster Spur, Super Chili, Jalapeño, Serraño, Garden Salsa, Mariachi Hybrid, Yolo Wonder, Fat 'N' Sassy, Sweet Hungarian mix called Yummy Blend (for my parents!), and the sticks with a ghost and the word BOO on them, are where the Bhut Jolokia peppers will go.  You may notice that there are four empty spots with no sticks on the far left.  Those may end up being more peppers.... Once again, NO there is no room left in the garden.  However, I received free seeds with my Bhut Jolokia order, and I hate to let the cayenne pepper seeds go to waste!  Yes, I think I need to join an over-planters anonymous group.  Or maybe start one!

And speaking of planting, (or was it over-planting?), the next items on my list to get started indoors are celery, leeks, and red cabbage.  That is a task that should be completed by Monday at the latest.  You may remember that I have had green onions growing now for a few weeks, and you are probably wondering what is happening with them.  Well, I am not entirely sure.  At first they were doing REALLY well!  Standing up straight and enjoying life to it's fullest.  Then, they fell.  Just bent over and took a nap.  I thought maybe I over watered them, so I stopped all water and vented the tall lid that is on them.  I have been watching them, and they have started making second leaves and those leaves are once again reaching for the sky (or ceiling as the case may be).  So did I kill them?  Are the coming back to life?  We shall see.  I am hoping they rebound and do well, but I fear I may have messed this one up.  This is the first time I am growing onions, and I know they can be difficult, so that may be what I am coming up against.  Here's hoping they make it!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Onions and Seed List

There was sun streaming in the windows all day today and it caused the kitchen and living room to get up to 76 degrees!  Even though it is still rather cold outside, it felt a bit like summer inside, and that is something worth celebrating!  It also gave the furnace a break since there was no additional heating necessary.  And of course, the onion seedlings rather enjoyed their sunbath.  I hope they aren't too disappointed when the sun disappears behind the clouds once again in the coming days.  I have been doing the 'sun' dance, but I guess it only has minimal effect.  Our forecast for the rest of this week consists of rain/snow mix followed by snow and then a 'chance' of snow.  Winter just does not want to give up quite yet!

Regardless of the current weather outside, I am still forging ahead with my garden activities inside.  My onion seedlings are doing very well and are actually quite a bit taller now than in the photo at left as they have since 'unfolded'.  I had to replace the lid that was covering the seedlings with the tall dome lid, so that they would have more upward growing space.  Hopefully they will not out grow that before I can leave them uncovered.

In other seedling news, I finally figured out when to start my peppers indoors.  Last year a few of the varieties I planted almost didn't fruit and ripen before the cool fall temperatures crept in.  To combat that issue, I want to start the peppers earlier.  After consulting the "starting time" list for my area that I got from my local garden store, and then doing some frost date research online, I have decided that March 15th would be a good day to plant.  That is earlier than the list I have suggests, but I followed the list date last year and it obviously didn't turn out too well!  I figure if nothing else, I will just have larger than normal seedlings ready for transplant.  I would rather have that 'problem' than under-developed plants!

I also thought I should put a list of what I am planning on planting this year on my blog, so that all of you know what I am in for!  Here it is:
Basil - Large Italian Leaf; Always a useful herb, and rather tasty!
Beans - Climbing French, a pole variety.  They are also 'stringless' and I love green beans.
Beets - Detroit Dark Red.  I may get another variety as well, but I haven't decided yet.
Cabbage1 - Red Acre.  I did tried to do cabbage last year, and it didn't turn out as planned.  This year I am investing in row covers to keep out the bad bugs and also the tree debris that plagued my cabbages last year!
Cabbage2 - Pok Choi
Carrots - Scarlet Nantes.  I was excited when I received these in the mail from the Seeds of the Month Club. They are a shorter variety and apparently are "tolerant of mismanagement".  I'd say you can't go wrong!
Catnip - I have to plant this because our cat Simon refuses to even touch store bought catnip.  However, he LOVES the stuff I dry from the garden.  He is the ultimate catnip snob!
Celery - The variety is called 'Utah'.  Also from the Seeds of the Month Club.  I wasn't entirely sure how I felt about growing celery, but I decided to give it a go.  Hopefully it will be a success!
Cucumbers - Boston Pickling.  I was excited to get theses in the mail as well!  I confess; I don't like cucumbers.  However, I do LOVE pickles and was planning on picking up some seeds for pickling cucumbers.  It is like they read my mind!
Dill - Because you can't have pickles without dill!  Well you can, but they wouldn't be dill pickles.
Leeks - Giant Musselburgh.  They get to be 9-15 inches in height and up to 3 inches in diameter.  Hence the name Giant.
Lettuce - Several types.  I really liked the variety from my local garden store that I planted last year, and the container I used seemed to work out well.  I will probably also plant the two varieties that came in the mail as well, because I enjoy a diverse salad.
Onion - Tokyo Long White.  A green onion.  Good by themselves or in recipes!
Oregano - The massive oregano octopus should come back again this year.
Parsley - Also already out there, though not an octopus.
Peas - These may or may not be used.  I haven't decided.  The issue is that I am not too fond of peas, and have found that they are not like cucumbers.  You can't just pickle your way to something better.  There are people who really like peas though, so I may grow some for them.
Peppers - I am now going to list all of the different pepper varieties that are making it into the garden (or in pots on the porch) this year:  Serraño del Sol Hybrid, Early Jalapeño, Yolo Wonder L Bell Pepper, Sweet Canary Bell, Super Chili Hybrid, Peter Pepper, Burning Bush Hybrid (Chichen Itza variety Habañero), Rooster Spur, Garden Salsa, and maybe Hungarian Wax.  I will obviously have to decide here pretty quick if Hungarian Wax will be making the cut.
Pumpkin - Sweet Pie for sure and then it is between Jack -o- Lantern and Batwing.
Radish - Round Cherry and French Breakfast.
Rosemary - I have some indoors at the moment, but I may replant some outside.
Spinach - Tyee Hybrid.
Squash - Spineless Beauty Hybrid (amusing name!), and Costata Romanesco, an heirloom variety zucchini,  thanks to a fellow gardener and blogger Gardening Jones.  (Thanks!)
Thyme -Lemon Thyme.
Tomatoes - Once again there is a list, though not as long as the pepper list: Amish Paste (Roma), Tigerella (See previous post for detailed info), Italian Heirloom, and a few seeds from an heirloom mix I got.  The heirloom mix is 'for fun' since I have no idea what will come up.  The Amish Paste and Italian Heirlooms are for canning, though I am sure there will be plenty left over to eat as well!  And the Tigerella is a 'for fun' that I know will be delicious!
Watermelon - Sugar Baby!  Once again I was super excited to receive this in the mail, as I was going to buy some anyway.  Cut back on my to-do list.

There is one thing that I would like to try growing again that is not on the list.  That would be Spanish peanuts.  The only thing is, I am thinking it would be better to grow them in a container, like potatoes, so that I can have some really good soil for them.  The soil in the garden is not the best for peanuts and I think that is what caused my peanuts not to do too well last year.  They didn't branch out much and would do better with a looser soil.  If I decide I have to have them, I will get a container such as a garbage can and put them in there.  I will let you know!

And last but not least, I listed no flowers.  There will be some though, so I will update you on that as well.  This post is already long enough without taking you through the list of flowers!  They aren't going to be directly in the garden with the vegetables anyway, so I guess they can have their own post.  Now to see about some more sun dancing!