Saturday, October 04, 2008


I really really really meant to do garden posts this year if for nothing else that so I can remember the good and bad things I did for next year. That soon dropped to resolving to doing just 3 posts over the season (I did manage to do the first one). Now, I'm going to make this one my garden journal summary for the year, even though it will primarily be about peppers.

Yesterday, with Jenny gone to Alabama for the weekend, I decided to pottytrain Lucy. So I took her pants and diaper off, took her and the toddler toilet outside (its still in the 80's), and went to town. I thought a good way to pass time with a naked 3 year old would be to pick all the hot peppers in the garden, which she absolutely loved.

This year I didn't necessarily plan on planting a variety of peppers, its just that every trip I make to the nursery I see some new pepper I want to try, which I justify by saying that I don't want to leave any empty space in the garden (which is a good plan- with lots of space between plants, the ground gets less shade and dries out faster.) I ended up with 16 kinds, most of which I remember the names of. In addition to the mainstays of jalapenos, sweet bananas and bell peppers, I gave habaneros one last try. In recent years I have tried habaneros but they have never worked for me- they always stay small and never bear fruit. This year was quite different- nearly all of them grew very large (maybe a foot tall), with many peppers per plant. I think the difference was that I did not plant them next to tall plants, and they got deeply watered.

For sweet peppers, I had green, yellow and purple bells, bananas (good on sandwiches), and pimentos. For hot peppers, I planted jalapenos, serranos, anaheim, habaneros, tabascos, hot banana, hungarian wax (I think), a dark green one I can't remember the name of, another kind a little large than serranos (they look a lot like the Ahi de la Mala Palabra (the pepper of the bad word, which word I will not repeat on this family friendly site) which is common in south america), the ones you find in chinese food, and hot cherries, all of which have pictures below except the habaneros.

Ahi de la mala palabra?



Don't know

Hungarian wax?

Hot banana (really good on sandwiches- its not too hot.)



Hot Cherry


Lucy and I picked the hot peppers, which filled the entire kitchen counter. I didn't want them to spoil, so I canned 7 quarts of them, and there is still maybe 1/3 of them left over- mostly the tabasco (not very useful-too small), anaheim (not the best flavor, and too soft and wrinkly), and the ones a little bigger than serrano (too many, and I had to make several cuts to make sure the air could escape).

So the verdict on the peppers:
Habanero (5 plants- about right, deeply trench water, out of the shade of larger plants)
Jalapeno (5 plants- plant more, out of the shade of other plants- don't plant next to the tall peppers plants like the ahi or serrano)
Serrano (4 plants- too many? not very much use for them except fresh salsa)
Hot banana (4 plants- possibly too many, but they're very good on sandwiches, salsa, and can easily, and are very pretty in the garden- possibly my favorite pepper this year)
Hot Cherry (1 plants- plant more, easy to can, good flavor canned (the philadelphian restaraunt near our house uses these on their subs)
Chinese- (4 plants- To be useful, I'd need to plant many more so I can dry them and grind them to a powder- very hot)
Hungarian Wax (1 plant- maybe plant more, decent flavor, very big- could put on sandwiches)

Not keepers:
Anaheim- not good flavor, not very hot, wrinkly
Ahi- Branches fell over, hard to can, only useful in fresh salsa.
Tabasco- too small so they are hard to can. Decent in fresh salsa, but probably not worth it.

Dark Green ones (never tasted)

Other Garden notes from this year:

-The brandywines finally did very well- lots of pollination. Probably because of the amount of water they got.
-Shaking flowers really does help- especially the first few sets. Don't forget next year.
-Dig deeper water trenches
-Maybe buy some rebar to stake the vines to? The cages tip over.
-I really like lemon boys. They are the most prolific plant this year. Plant more (at least 8)
-Plant early girls and fourth of July's. I always think I don't need them, but this year's late crop convinced me I do. They actually taste good too.
-Try romas for salsa?
-I really like the large cherry tomatos.
-I really like the yellow sweet 100. (sungold?)
-Go ahead and plant like tomatos next to each other (the quantum mechanics student in me likes to mix them all up). That way I know for the next year which ones I liked best. As it is I always forget where I planted certain plants.
-Don't plant Cherry tomatos among large tomatos- hard to pick

-Sets don't work. (they stay small)
-seeds work better
-bunches of small, dead looking onions work best- got very big. Wait for the ones at western garden center where they store them in moist sawdust so the roots start growing.
-Plant in or right next to trench. Don't plant second row next to the onions next to trench (so only 2 rows per trench)
-Carrots work with onions and peppers in the same trench system

-Even with netting, birds still got to them. Need better support system for netting.
-Lettuce seed (in plastic cells only- no peat) worked well- I didn't need to buy any lettuce plants.
-Put in trench system under lettuce, anticipating what crop takes its place.

-Cut chives down after flowers die.
-Plant parsley seeds when previous year's parsley starts growing.
-Oregano seeds really don't work sown directly in garden.
-Basil seeds are also hard
-Basil seeds in plastic cells might work (and possibly oregano)
-try Cilantro next year

-Tomatos don't work next to house- try squash
-We use zucchini, not so much spaghetti squash.
-Plant Butternut, acorn, and possibly crookneck next year.
-I always regret not planting pumpkins
-2 zucchini plants are more than enough

-Petunias are the easiest thing ever to plant from seed. Very hardy, no transplant shock
-Don't start Marigold seeds indoors until 4-6 weeks before May 1st.
-Amaranthus worked, but need 50+ plants to really create a nice effect
-Try all petunias for the backyard flower patch- what was there this year worked best
-Miniature dahlia- too much maintenance for small plants
-Impatiens and colius really didn't work from seeds. Don't try again without a professional greenhouse (to come when I get a job)
-It is better to buy one nice $45 fruit tree with a root system, than 3 $15 bareroot trees from costco that all end up dieing.

-Just dig out those raspberries. They're in the wrong place. I always hesitate to rip fruit bushes out because they take awhile to grow, but if its in the wrong place, then just do it.
-In the strip by the house, habanero worked. Tomatos did not. Try some squash.
-The tomatos did fine in the shaded garden boxes. Finish the two shaded boxes nearest the fence to increase garden space by 40%
-Tomatos in buckets aren't worth it.
-The 32 tomato plants in the garden boxes supplied about 98% of my tomatos. The other 10 plants supplied 2%. 14 plants per box was good spacing- though towards the end of the season it was hard to see in there.
-I regretted not having a tomatillo plant
-The cucumbers climbing the fence worked great- but dig a better watering trench for them before you plant the seeds
-Don't buy cheap cucumber seeds. Splurge. (I got lots of incomplete pollination). Maybe plant in the box closer to the house.


apyknowzitall said...

Did you honestly have to show off?

Nick said...

Well duh

Nancy Webb said...

Nick, those peppers look fantastic. Mine did poorly because I planted them on the East of the tomatoes which grew very tall and thick and shaded them. Then on the other side of them was the zuccini squash and you how big those get so the poor peppers were in the shade or actually had the tomato cages tip over on them. Will do better next year.