Saturday, September 21, 2019

Quick, homemade salsa

Mid summer harvest
Saturday, September 22, 2019

Here is our homemade and very quick salsa recipe using everything from the garden.  It is a little on the spicy side, so you may want to cut back on the hot peppers if you like a milder taste. 
I freeze whole cayenne and jalapenos throughout the growing season to use for homemade salsa.  I just thaw a quart of frozen homegrown tomatoes, 1 cayenne, 1 jalapeno, 1 bell pepper and add 1 fresh onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, a healthy handful of cilantro.  Throw them all into the food processor and viola!  Fresh, spicy salsa.

All the extra tomatoes that come off the vine, I will slice up and freeze so I can use the rest of the year.  Any frozen from the previous year goes into sauce in the fall.  I wait until it is cooler before I can!  Preserving the tomato harvest

I do the same with sweet and hot peppers, freeze the extras that we can't eat fresh.  I freeze the small ones whole and slice up the larger sweet peppers.  They retain their flavor for a couple of years.  Preserving peppers

As the cilantro goes to seed, I use tarragon as a substitute.  It adds a slightly different taste, but is still quite good.

I haven't had the best of luck with large bulbing onions in the garden, but the Egyptian walking onions do great in the garden or in a pot!  For this salsa recipe, I pull one onion and use both the bulb and the stalk.  Egyptian walking onions

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Seed saving-fun, easy and a cost saver

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Seed saving has been going on for thousands of years.  Seed saving is easy.  Always save the seed from the best vegetable you grew! Or the tastiest you buy at the farmers market or store.  

Pick the fruit or plant that has the characteristics you want to grow next year.  The one that was the biggest or had the best taste or produced the most or produced the longest or gave you harvests the earliest or was the most drought or pest resistant.  

Lettuce flower buds
One caveat, you cannot get true to parent plants from hybrids.  If they grow, they will often be totally different than the parent or could get weaker with each generation.  You need “open pollinated” or heirloom vegetables for the seed to produce a baby like the parent.
What do the terms GMO, natural, heirloom, organic, hybrid really mean?

I save seeds from the best eggplants, peppers and tomatoes I have in the garden each year.  I also let lettuce go to seed in the summer and either save their seed or let them self-seed.  You will get many volunteer lettuce plants.

I have finally found/grown two kinds of sweet peppers that produce well.  I'll keep saving the seed and growing them out.  They are now a mainstay for my garden.
Peppers are for every taste and garden

It doesn't cost a thing to save seeds from store bought veggies or fruits you like and you can end up with some great plants for your garden!  To be sure that the seeds you save will come back true to the parent, heirloom is a sure bet.  One of my favorite paste tomatoes is one I started from seed bought from the store.
For garlic, you save the best, biggest cloves.  You divide up the garlic head into individual cloves and plant them in the fall when it cools off.  Typically, sometime in October or November.  Most store bought garlic has been treated to prevent them from sprouting so you may or may not have luck using the ones from the grocery store.  Your farmers market is a great place to get garlic well suited for your area.
In our garden, seeds can be saved from tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, broccoli, cilantro, dill, celery, borage, salad burnet, garlic, okra, Egyptian walking onions (bulblets), basil.  I had many zinnia and basil "volunteers" in the garden this year from seeds dropped by the plant last fall.
Try self-seeding veggies and flowers

Lettuce flower seeds
For peppers, squash and tomatoes, just scoop out the seeds, lay them on a paper towel on a plate and let them dry completely.  Some suggest for tomato seed to put them in water and let them ferment a bit.  The ones that sink are the ones you want to keep for planting, not the ones that float.  After drying, I put in plastic baggies and keep in the frig to prolong seed life.
Tomatoes 101, everything you need to know to grow ...
Growing zucchini and summer squash
Warm joys of winter squash

Many greens, like chard, parsley, lettuce, broccoli, will shoot a large stalk up then flower.  This is called "bolting."  The easiest thing to do is to let the seeds form, cut the stalk, then put the stalks with seed heads attached into a paper bag.  Let them dry thoroughly, then shake the seeds out.  Some may require that you roll the seed heads between your fingers to free the seed.  

You can actually re-sow seeds from cool season crops like lettuce, cilantro, parsley, chard, chives and get a second fall/winter harvest!  I re-sow seeding about every other week starting the first of September.  In about two weeks, you will have sprouting greens.  When they have grown a bit more, I will separate and transplant into pots and the garden.  I like starting seeds in long narrow pots what are self-watering to be able to move easily to the best growing conditions.  Can also move under the portable greenhouse when it gets cold.
Ideal soil temperatures for starting your seeds
Outdoor seed starting tips
I put my dried seeds in labelled ziplock bags and store them in the crisper, include the seed type, descriptor and date.  A picture of the plant can be helpful to remember the plant the seed belongs to.  Fun gift to give, too.  The seeds last for years this way!

Grow lettuce through fall and winter

Saturday, September 15, 2019

Plant a variety of lettuce types now via seeds for harvests through fall and winter!  Lettuce enjoys cool temperatures and gets even sweeter as the temps dip.

The challenge to starting lettuce from seed this time of year is that it can be so hot.  The seeds will not germinate well in ground temps above 70 degrees F.  

There are a couple of options for summer time seeding.  You can grow in shade, cover with a shade cloth or start your seedlings indoors move outdoors after they have sprouted.

I like to start in flats in the shade, close to the watering can on the east side of the house.  On a covered patio, porch or deck is an ideal place to start seeds.  The seedlings will be up in 7 days if kept well watered.  I let them grow until they have the first set of true leaves and are about 2” tall.  I then transplant them into their permanent home, keeping them well watered for another couple of weeks.

You can just plant a couple of seeds in re-used 6 packs so you can plant it all in the garden, plant several in a pot and then just transplant into the garden or final pot.  My personal favorite is sowing seeds into my self-watering Earthboxes that I cover later in the season with a portable greenhouse to keep the greens going all winter.  How to extend the garden season

If you want to direct seed in your flower bed, dig a shallow trench about a half inch deep, fill with potting soil, seed, pat down, then cover lightly with more potting soil.  Water well with a gentle stream of water so you don’t wash the seed away.  I use a rain head on my watering can.

Plant a few seeds each day for the next couple of weeks to get a succession of plants for on-going harvests.  This time of year, look for types that are the most cold hardy to last the longest into winter.  Look for varieties marketed as: fast-maturing, short and compact, winter-hardy, frost tolerant, overwintering, for every season, year-round, remarkably cold hardy, etc.  

A few varieties to try are Winter density, Rouge d’Hiver, No Name Red Leaf, Arctic King, Continuity, Salad Bowl, Mottistone.

Don't forget to look around your yard and garden for volunteer lettuce plant seedlings.  I let my lettuce plants go to seed in the summer.  There are many seedlings that will come up in the garden and yard.  I just dig them up and put them where I want them to grow for the fall and winter.  If it is still super hot, move them to a pot in a cool area in the garden or on a deck until it cools down.  Transplant them into the garden when it cools off.

There are some nurseries and even big box stores that carry edible transplants for fall planting.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Peppers love September

Ancho and Jalapeño peppers

Saturday, September 7, 2019

My peppers kick into high gear come September.  They seem to love the lower humidity and cooler nights.  Peppers originated in the mountains of Mexico so September into October are perfect weather conditions for peppers.

Nikita hybrid sweet pepper
Surprisingly, even though peppers originated in the tropics and subtropics of South America, peppers don’t like extremely hot weather.  They get sunburned when the temps get into the 90’s consistently.  Their sunburn looks like dark spots on the exposed fruits.  If you can, move them into the shade when temps are extreme.  They won’t croak, but they are stressed during periods of high heat.
Summer garden tips

Peppers like sulfur, calcium (to protect from blossom end rot), magnesium (helps flowers make fruits), sulfur (makes more nutritious pepper) and phosphorous (for flowering).  You can use the same fertilizer as you do for tomatoes; both encourage healthy fruit growth.

Be careful with the nitrogen.  Nitrogen promotes greenery.  You will end up with beautiful, lush plants with no flowers or fruits.  Also be careful in the type of potting soil you buy if planting in pots to make sure they are not for green leaved plants, but for flowers or vegetables.

Right now, I have Poblano/Ancho peppers, Chipetin (an ancient super hot pepper), and three sweet pepper varieties-Cubanelle, a sweet Jalapeño, and Giant Marconi, growing in pots.  I preserve all that I don't use fresh.  Preserving peppers

The Poblano/Ancho and Anaheim I am drying for chili powder.  The sweet peppers I rough slice the extras and freeze for salsa. I have plenty of frozen hot Jalapeños and Cayennes from last year so didn't plant any this year.  I use them for salsa and some I don’t freeze, but put in apple cider vinegar to ferment for hot sauce for wings for football games.  After about 4 weeks, I put them through the food processor and my hot sauce is ready to use!  Homemade hot sauce wings with homegrown celery
Homemade hot sauce
Yum!  Yum!

If you smoke your Jalapeño peppers, you will get Chipotle seasoning.  I have smoked some Jalapeños, dried them and ground them up to make Chipotle powder for seasoning dishes.  Or you can add natural smoke flavor to the pepper before drying to get that smoky flavor after dehydrated.

The heat of the pepper is in the ribs and seeds.  If you like spicy, be sure to keep these.  When handling spicy peppers, it is a good idea to wear gloves and be careful to not rub your eyes, nose or mouth until you wash your hands thoroughly.

You can also save these seeds and plant in next year's garden.  Just be sure to let them dry before you put them in an air tight container.  I store my seeds in ziplocks in the frig and they last for years.  Seed saving-fun, easy and a cost saver

Pimento peppers
We grow most of our peppers in pots.  I try to grow enough peppers to last us all winter for chili and salsa.  The hot peppers like Jalapeños and Cayenne seem to do best in pots.  The Pimentos were average producers in the ground.  I have grown them in pots in the past and there doesn’t seem to be much difference in production.  The sweet peppers do well in pots.  The Poblano was grown in the garden and the Anaheim in the ground.  Both produced well.  I grow all my peppers in pots unless I run out of pots, then they go in the ground.   Peppers are for every taste and garden

If you had plants that did extremely well, peppers are perennials.  You can simply bring them inside for the winter.  They will continue to produce through January indoors.  When you put them back outside in the spring, you will be the first on the block with homegrown peppers!  If you decide bringing indoors is too much of a hassle or you don’t have the space, save the seeds from the best fruit of the plant so you can propagate next year.  Hybrids will not grow true to seed so you will either have to overwinter or buy a new plant or seeds in the spring.  You can try the seed, but the offspring typically does not turn out with the same traits as the parent.  What do the terms GMO, natural, heirloom, organic, hybrid really mean?

A friend shared with me that he thought he was going to give up trying to grow vegetables because all he got was pretty plants with no fruits.  He was growing them in pots.  

My suggestion-don’t give up!  Since you are doing a great job with greenery, go for vegetables that are leafy, like lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, herbs, chard, and other greens.  Now is a great time to replant with these type of plants.

On the other hand, if you get all greenery and no fruit and your plant is in full sun, the most likely culprit is too much nitrogen fertilizer.  This can happen to any fruiting plant.  I fertilize once a month with an organic fertilizer and typically one for tomatoes as they are made with the nutrients fruiting plants need.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Make your own pickles without a store bought seasoning mix

Home made pickles

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Summer is prime cucumber season!  Cucumbers love heat.  If you have more than you can or want to eat fresh, there is always homemade pickles.  Homemade pickles are sooooooo easy!  My husband loves those “Stacker” type pickles, the big slices you lay across the bun for a juicy hamburger.

I enjoy making pickles.  I slice up my extra cucumbers to just the length and width my husband likes them for his burgers and use my homemade pickling herbs and spices with organic apple cider vinegar.  The trick is to make sure you do not put less salt or vinegar in them.  Salt and vinegar are preservatives.  They keep the dilly solution acidic enough so your pickles do not spoil.

You can make either picklers or slicers cucumbers into pickles.  Picklers have been bred to be smaller and have smaller seeds, but both have the same fresh cucumber taste.  Don’t let the cucumber get too big, this results in big seeds and slows down cucumber production.

I can a jar at a time.  You want your cucumbers fresh for preserving.  I harvest the cucumbers before they get too large.  This does two things, it keeps the size of the seeds in the cucumber down and it keeps the vine producing.  All vegetables are in the business of insuring survival so they give everything they have to producing their seed, the vegetables we harvest.  If you keep removing their seeds, they keep trying to make more!

I typically can 2-3 cucumbers at a time.  These will fit nicely into a quart canning jar.  Make sure the jar and lid have been sterilized.  I slice them lengthwise to the size that will fit on a bun; make sure you remove the ends of the cucumber as some ends are bitter.  I add 2-3 flowering dill heads, 4-5 sprigs of salad burnet or tarragon, 2 cloves, 4-5 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/4 teas of caraway seeds, 1/4 teas of peppercorns, one cardamon seed pod, 3 tablespoons of salt, a bay leave, fill the rest of the jar with water (about 2 cups is all that is needed).  If you like 'em spicy, throw in a pepper or two with stem removed.  Slice the pepper in half to get the spicy from the seeds.  
Sliced cucumber with herbs from the garden for seasoning

You can get a good jar seal by heating the water and seasonings on the stove to a boil, let cool, add the vinegar, then pour over the sliced cucumbers in the jar, and put the lid on.  Or you can do it the old fashioned way and not heat the liquid, letting the pickles naturally ferment.  It is critical that you have at least the amount of salt and vinegar recommended or the pickles will go bad.  I shake the jar a couple of times a day until the salt is completely dissolved. You let them ferment at room temperature in a cool, dark place 1-4 weeks and they are ready to eat!

For more on fermentation for food preservation, a good book is "Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Ellix Katz.

Some swear that adding a grape leaf will keep the pickles crisp.  I don’t have a grapevine so have not been able to confirm this tip, but will certainly remember for when we do.

Unopened pickle jars will keep for a year or longer.  Once opened, keep refrigerated and eat within a couple of months.

Cucumber ready to harvest
To keep your cucumbers in peak production, harvest when the cukes are 6-7 inches in length.  I use scissors to cut the cuke from the vine.  If you are not going to use them immediately, store in a freezer bag in the crisper.  You can perk up the cuke by soaking in cool water.

Cucumbers love heat, organic matter and moisture.  They are easiest to harvest when given a trellis to climb.  Keep the fruits harvested for best production.  I use a liquid fertilizer like fish emulsion or bat guano and seaweed to add other needed nutrients.  Monthly side dressings of compost works well, too.  For minerals, I also use a “Growers Mineral Solution” to get the minerals plants need.  This also means the fruits you eat will be rich in minerals.  Your plants are what you feed them.  
Cucumber info and tips for growing

Do not let the plant get dry.  This is what causes bitter fruits.  When I grow cucumbers in pots or in the ground, I use mulch to help retain moisture for the plant.  If growing in a pot, you may need to water daily during heat waves or use a self watering pot with a built in water reservoir.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

September 2019 Edible Garden Planner

Winter squash from the September garden
Thursday, August 29, 2019

End of summer is a great time to tidy garden beds and harvest herbs.  As the days get shorter, growth slows and before long the sun cannot support all the greenery from summer.  Peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers will keep producing through frost.  Keep the fruits picked to keep them producing.  Beginning of September is time to sow seeds of cool weather lovers for fall and early winter harvests.  

Harvesting Herbs
This is the perfect time to harvest your herbs.  You can cut them back so they remain lush, improving the tidiness of your garden, and providing herbs for the winter ahead.  Cutting them back will help the plants build stronger root systems.  Trimming does encourage new growth as well.  You just don't want to prune too close to frost as new growth makes the plant less hardy.

I dry my herbs to preserve them.  I put loosely in a paper bag in a dry, warm area out of the sun and let dry naturally.  Loose is the key here so they get good air circulation and do not mold.  They should be completely dry in about 3-4 weeks.  I like putting them in clothes closets to dry as they release such great fragrance and the darkness helps keep the flavor in the herb.

Once dried, remove the leaves from woody herbs and store in an airtight container out of direct sunlight.  With a soft herb like chives, you can just crumble into the airtight container.  I use wide mouth canning jars for herb storage or freezer bags kept in a dark location.

If the winter is not a bad one, most perennial herbs like chives, oregano, sage, savory, and thyme can be harvested year round straight from the garden.

Fall planting guide for cool season crops
In September, plant more greens, carrots, and radishes.  October is the month to plant garlic for next year's harvest. Time to plant garlic! With growing tips......  Buy your garlic early because the most popular varieties sell out early.  I will plant the best cloves from this year's harvest.  I have both regular garlic and elephant garlic to plant.  I like elephant garlic because it produces such huge cloves.

You can pick up transplants like broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, kale, as well as herbs at some nurseries since gardening has become so popular, buy them on line or grow from seed.  Everything that loves spring also thrive in fall into early winter.  Lettuce is a favorite for fall.  Plant a variety daily the first two weeks of September.

Caring for your new seeds and transplants
Like in the spring, newly sown seeds need moisture to sprout.  Keep seeds and transplants moist until they get their first real set of leaves and are well established.  Then water as needed.

Many crops you can harvest into December and beyond, depending on how cold fall is.  Some get sweeter with some frost, like carrots, chard, and lettuce.  With cover, you can harvest all the way through winter!

A quick reminder, save the seeds from your best performers to plant next year!  You can replant seeds from any heirlooms or open pollinated plants.  Not only does it save you money, but it also gives you the plants that do the best under your garden and zone conditions.  Seed saving-fun, easy and a cost saver

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Natural, organic pest strategies and how to make your own bug sprays

Cucumber beetle
Sunday, August 25, 2019

There are good bugs and then there are the bugs that eat up your harvest or give your plants diseases.  You have to be extremely careful in applying any insecticides (bug killers) as they will kill off the beneficial insects (like bees) that pollinate your veggies and increase your harvests.

The best approach is to let nature take its course.  If you have bad bugs, the good bugs will quickly follow and provide equilibrium in the garden.  When I went organic, there was significant reductions in bad bug pressure by the second year.  I did several things to help accelerate the balance.  I purchased good bugs to release in the garden, planted flowers that deter bad bugs and attract pollinators, applied milky spore strategically, attracted birds to the garden, and used natural sprays and powders judiciously as a last resort judiciously.

You can purchase beneficial insects via mail order or some nurseries carry them.  If you go this route, be sure to release them immediately.  If ordering on line, be sure that you will be at home when they are delivered so that you can get them released that day.
Edible garden filled with returning zinnias and sunflowers
You can encourage good bugs by planting flowers either around your vegetable patch or actually with your vegetables.  I have my vegetable garden actually in my flower garden.  Marigolds are a bad bug deterrent so I added these all around the flower beds.  My flower garden is in bloom from spring all the way through fall.  Many varieties are also edible like the day-lilies, borage, and roses. 
Flowers that are edible

To encourage birds to your yard plant trees, shrubs and flowers that attract birds.  Keeping a bird bath with shrubs nearby so the birds can hide in the shrubs is a great way to get birds into your yard.  We also have a bird feeder that keeps a steady stream of birds at the edge of our garden.  We get an occasional peck on the tomatoes, but this is minor compared to the entertainment of watching the birds and their help in pest control!
Chickens free ranging
We had chickens and guineas last year.  We let the chickens free range in the evening.  We tried letting them go on their own, but they quickly discovered the garden and how tasty squash and tomatoes were!  Now we only let them out when we can watch them.  Be best to let them free range after you put your garden to bed in the late fall.

Using a garden hose to dose down the insects can be a good strategy; just make sure that you are not watering a plant’s leaves that are susceptible to fungal diseases such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, roses or peonies.  

Manual removal of bad bugs can be very effective.  Just go insect and catepillar hunting and pull off the insects and throw them into a bowl with soap and water.

For Japanese beetles, I use an attractor that is quite a distance from the vegetable garden.  They love roses so I go hunting for them on our roses every day.  We also applied milky spore to keep the grub population down around the roses so we have fewer adults in the summer.  Milky spore is a microscopic bacteria that takes a couple of years to be effective so get started today.  I saw a huge difference in the Japanese beetle population by applying milky spore around my roses.  I am not seeing many Japanese beetles in my garden now so I am not using an attractor.

For ants, you have to control the aphids.  A recipe for catching the ants and aphids:  2 cups of vinegar, 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of water in a gallon jug with a lid.  Drill 3 small holes in the lid, large enough for the ants and aphids, but too small for a little bee.  Place in trouble areas.

One non-chemical approach I really like is diatomaceous earth.  It is a white powder of tiny aquatic fossils.  The fossils have tiny rough edges that we cannot feel or see, but cut the insects outer "skin" causing dehydration and killing the insect.  Again, DE doesn't know a good from bad bug so use carefully.  I would use DE only sparingly and not on any flowering plants to spare the bees.

If you are unfortunate enough to have grasshoppers, DE is a good option.  Here is a link to other strategies for these ancient pests  Natural control of grasshoppers

Lately, I have had extensive caterpillar pressure on my sprouting broccoli plants (last year they were also very happy on all my broccoli plants).  I tried the "let my garden come into balance" but that hasn't yielded results.  I have tried the caterpillar hunting, but am still seeing my sprouting broccoli be ravished.  The best thing to have done was to not grow any broccoli plants this year so that their favorite food would not be around.  These plants came back in their pots this year from last year.  Crop rotation is key to keeping pests at a minimum!  Crop rotation made easy for small gardens

For caterpillars, BT dust is a good option.  The caterpillars ingest it as they are eating the plant and they eventually die.  This is my next move!  Make sure to dust the undersides of leaves so that first rain or dew wash off the dust.  You can get a "puffer" that you can put powder in to dust the undersides.  You just fill it up and compress the container and it "puffs" out the dust.  Much easier than turning each leaf upside down to dust!  I bought mine on Amazon and it was called "pest pistol mini duster".  I imagine it is going to take a few rounds to get them under control.

Here is a nice reference for caterpillar identification  Caterpillar identification.   You can check to see if the caterpillar munching on your parsley is a bad bug or a Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar.

Here are some make your own insect deterrents.  Make sure you test on a few leaves to insure that it won’t adversely affect the plant you are trying to protect.
All purpose spray.  1 garlic bulb, 1 onion, 1 teas dry cayenne pepper, 1 teas liquid soap, 1 quart of water.  Mix water, garlic, pepper and onion together in a food processer, let steep an hour or so, drain through cheesecloth, add liquid soap and you are ready to spray away!
Hot pepper spray.  Good for repelling insects, squirrels, rabbits, and other curious mammals.  1 cup of hot peppers in a quart of water.  Mix in food processor, strain through a cheesecloth and you are ready to use.  Be careful to not get the liquid on your hands and then touch your eyes or mouth.  It will burn.
Tomato-leaf spray.  This is toxic to soft bodied insects like aphids.  It also attracts beneficial wasps.  Take the leaves off the bottom of your tomato plant, 2 cups.  Put in food processor with 1.5 quarts of water.  Let steep overnight, strain out leaves.  Spray on affected leaves, especially the undersides where they like to hide.

If you are just overrun with the bad bugs, you can look on OMRI web site to see what the organic insecticides are:  OMRI approved list  I use Safer Insecticidal Soap, Neem Oil, and Bt for my indoor plants.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Preserving peppers

Potted pepper plant
Sunday, August 18, 2019

For preserving the pepper harvest, you have some options-drying, freezing, pickling. I have also seen creative pepper jelly and preserve recipes for canning.  They sound really fun.  I may have to try a couple of them this fall.  Canning is much nicer to do when it has cooled off.  Peppers keep producing until a hard frost so there is lots of time left to experiment with preservation options!

Peppers love summer warmth.  Surprisingly, when it gets too hot (in the 90’s) they can start to drop flowers and get sunburned.  So, don’t be surprised when they are not as perky as earlier in the season.  They will come back when the temperatures get out of the stratosphere.  During extreme heat waves, they appreciate some shade.
Sweet pepper plant in the garden
If you have your peppers in pots, you can just roll them into a spot that gives some relief.  If they are in the ground, you can use a shade cloth, or a piece of picket fence or screen on the south or west side of the plant.  Or just wait for nature to take its course.
I have tried peppers in the ground and in pots.  They seem to do the best in a pot.  All the hot peppers I have ever tried are much more prolific than any sweet pepper I had tried.  I kept trying new types of sweet peppers, looking for a type that loves my garden conditions.  I finally found one.  I grew out some plants from the seed of a hybrid sweet yellow banana pepper.  I got yellow, orange and maroon sweet peppers from the seed that do great in my garden.  I now save the seed to re-grow in the garden.  
The small hot pepper that I overwinter is doing well called Chiltepin.  It is the oldest form of capsicum annum species and is very hot.  These tiny hot peppers, I just put on the counter to dry.    When completely dry, I will put in a jar.  I use these peppers in the grilling mix I make. 
I gave a boost to all our garden plants with Espoma Gardentone and Azomite last week end (for a make your own boost I have also used bat guano, feather meal, and kelp meal).  Potted plants should be fertilized a couple of times a month and garden bed veggies, once a month.  

Ancho/poblano pepper
Peppers dry easily.  The quickest way is to put in a dehydrator.  Just slice in half and pop in.  If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven on its lowest setting.  This year, I have just been leaving them on the window sill and they appear to be drying just fine.  You can also put on a screen in the sun or hang in a dry place.  The watchout for drying outside is the level of humidity.  In high moisture, they may spoil versus dry.
Dehydrate or sun dry your extra veggies

I am growing Ancho peppers for chili pepper.  My hubby loves lots of chili pepper in his chili.  I have been harvesting them for about a month now.

The bigger hot peppers I freeze whole to use in salsa throughout the winter and spring.  Quick, homemade salsa  I chop and freeze the pimentos to use in salad.  It is a key ingredient in the salad we love from the Pasta House restaurant.  For the recipe, see  Homemade salad dressing recipes with garden herbs   Typically, any food gets soft when thawed.  The Pimentos I have chopped and frozen retain their firmness even after thawing.

I also make hot sauce from the hot peppers.  It is super easy by slicing and placing in apple cider vinegar.  I typically use Cayenne peppers for hot sauce but any hot pepper that you like will do just fine.

If you have a pepper plant that did great this year, there are a couple ways to make sure you have them in your garden next season.  You can save seeds from your favorite peppers for next year's garden.  Just dry the seeds and put them in a freezer bag in the frig.  Be sure to save the seeds from the best fruits.  Seed saving-fun, easy and a cost saver  

Peppers are perennials that you can bring in to the house or garage to overwinter.  It gives them a jump on next season.  This has worked well for my hot peppers and not so well for the sweet peppers I have tried to overwinter in the garage.

For more tips on growing peppers, Peppers are for every taste and garden.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

What to plant in the edible August garden

November edible garden
August 17, 2019  

August is a great time to begin planting for fall and winter harvests.  Get the most out of your edible garden by using all the seasons for fresh, homegrown goodness.

Here are the crops you can start in the August edible garden:

Fava beans
Snow peas

When planting in the hot months, be sure to keep the soil moist until the plants are well established.  

A great and easy way to start your fall garden is to sow the seeds in a pot on a covered deck or patio.  This makes it easy to keep an eye on the seedlings and protects them from the harsh hot summer sun.  After they have a couple of sets of their true leaves, you can transplant into the garden bed.  Harden them off first by moving the pot to full sun before transplanting.  After transplanting into the garden, keep them watered regularly.

For more summer seed starting tips Outdoor seed starting tips