Posts Tagged bell peppers

Winter Storm Cleanup in the Garden

For the last couple of weeks we have had some pretty constant days of rain and blowing wind. The garden looks terrible. Leaves are everywhere, and weeds are starting to show their ugly faces. So, with Saturday afternoon came some nicer weather and I decided to try to tackle some long overdue garden chores. I mainly worked on the grape vines which needed to be pruned back and the leaves raked and put into the compost bin. That took a little bit of time. I debated on saving the vines and wrapping them into a wreath, but in the end, they ended up in the garden waste pile.

I have been thinking vaguely about purchasing a wood chipper, but I am not sure I will have enough use for it to justify buying one. And, my husband, wasn’t too keen on the idea when I mentioned it in passing one day.

The peas, which are “Mammoth Melting” variety, are huge. I haven’t really had them get so big that they are tumbling over the supports. I put up some small supports because I usually don’t have them grow over about 4 feet. These vines are probably pushing 6 feet right now. I am just starting to get some snow peas off them, and they are very fresh and lovely.

As you can barely see in the bottom of the picture, the broccoli is ready for picking. We have oodles of broccoli right now, which my family does really like, so that is good. Out of the garden, for some reason, I have decided it tastes so much more tender. Yum!

My bell pepper plants really suffered this past month, because for a couple of days we actually had freezing temps. I know! Can you believe it? Anyway, I forgot to cover them and they just look pathetic. I am trying to decide whether to pull them out or not. If you look closely, you can just make out some new leaves that are popping out.

Bell Pepper - frozen back

Be that as it may, I am starting some others from seed inside under a grow light. YAY! I got myself a grow light! I wanted one for my birthday, but my husband said that if I did, the government would track it and come to check that I wasn’t growing marijuana! Right! So, I purchased one for myself a couple of weeks ago.

New seedlings under grow light on kitchen counter

It is actually working wonderfully. I just put a couple of hooks under the cabinet and suspended it from them with some wire. I leave it on for about 14 hours a day, and after 1 week they were already getting their second leaves. So exciting. I am trying to grow enough extras for my mom and father-in-law also. One day at a time. The only downside to having this light right in my kitchen is that my husband says he needs to wear sunglasses to watch TV because it is too bright on his poor little eyes. 🙂

Above you can see on the right, one of my brussel sprout plants that I started from seed back in Oct. On the left, the little seedlings are celery. I am trying that as an experiment. I am not too sure they are going to have enough time to grow before it gets too warm. We will see. They are definately slow growers!

My father-in-law is just putting up an awesome chicken coop. Here is a picture of it. It isn’t quite finished yet, but when it is, it will be really great. He has about 38 chickens which include 8 babies. On Saturday, we found 2 more hens roosting. I love to see those babies following after the mothers scratching for bugs.

New chicken coop

Baby chicks

This one is a rooster.

I am hopefully getting a couple of new hens today from a friend of mine. We had one of ours die a couple of weeks ago and now we have 4 hens. I am not quite sure what happened. It is possible she was egg bound because she had not yet started laying and was due any time to begin. I went out there and she was just dead. So sad. I really hate that, but it is part of having animals. My son always has a hard time.

Other random things happening in the garden right now:

– strawberry plants are starting to set fruit

-lots of carrots (By the way, I had planted some carrots of the variety “Tonda di Parigi” which are small round carrots similar looking to a radish. They are a little sweeter and very good raw. Interesting to taste the difference when compared to a regular baby carrot – “Little Finger” variety.)

-some tomatoes are starting to ripen and for some reason the starter plants that I purchased from the local garden center were labeled wrong and I have 3 cherry tomato plants. (Although, there is no where near the amount that I get in the spring/summer, even with a greenhouse type effect of growing them.)

-the eggplant are still producing the dreaded eggplant. I am definately pulling them out in a couple of weeks. I have just left them really because the little sparrows sit inside the plants and I feel sorry for them.

Happy Gardening!

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Preserving & Etc.

So, do you ever wonder what to do with all those jalepenos, or other peppers that your plant just keeps on producing and you can’t eat quick enough? My mother-in-law makes jalepeno jello, which you can do. I just really only have one recipe that I use that for, & I’m pretty sure I haven’t made that in oh, about 5 years. So, last week, I was looking through my trusty Ball Blue Book and came across this recipe:

Hot Peppers

1 1/2 pounds banana peppers

1 pound jalepeno peppers

1/4 pound serrano peppers

6 cups vinegar

2 cups water

3 cloves garlic

Leave peppers whole or cut into 1 inch pieces. Mix peppers together. Combine vinegar, water, & garlic in a large saucepot. Bring mixtu to a boil; reduce heat & simmer 5 minutes. Discard garlic. Pack peppers into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Ladle hot pickling liquid over peppers, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 5 pints.

Note: When cutting or seeding hot peppers, wear rubber glovs to prevent hands from being burned.

I definately do not have that many peppers, so what I did was fill one jar crammed full of whole peppers (mostly because I didn’t feel like cutting them up). I then put 2 cups white wine vinegar (not distilled) with 1 cup of water & 2 cloves garlic, minced into a pot and continued to do the recipe that way. I didn’t even process the jar after I was done, and the heat sealed it on it’s own. Also, as I make flavored vinegas all the time, I figured the vinegar would preserve it without having to actually can it. Guess what? Today I opened that jar of jalepenos and it looked & smelled just like the jar’s you buy at the store. YAY! The jalepenos even changed color to look like the ones you buy in the jar. So, I was happy!

Also, for those of you who have trouple with your bell peppers looking as big as the ones at the grocery store, I have been doing some research on this topic. This year, my peppers have had a few problems. Mostly, I think, because I have a fungus in the soil that they are growing in, so the leaves look wilted. I have buried banana peels under each plant, because apparently this is good for them as it provides magnesium as the peel breaks down (which it does rather quickly, despite the fact that it is very thick). I have also read to do this for rose bushes. I have also given them a good dose of epsom salts for nitrogen, which has helped them a little bit. Anyway, to make a long story short, the other day, I was picking up my vegetable basket from boutiful baskets and I had done the organic one (yes, even though I have a garden, I do get other veggies, mostly for the fruit right now). There were lots of bell peppers. They were smaller ones, just like the ones in my garden. So, apparently, it doesn’t matter. So, don’t fret about your peppers. I was pretty happy when I saw that!

I let the dove out of the chicken coop this am. The dog simply couldn’t stand that there was a dove in there and was trying to dig into the coop. Ridiculous! I had my husband go out there and look at the coop and he couldn’t figure out how these birds are getting in either! It’s a mystery!

Lots of long beans came off today! I really love those. If anyone would like some seeds for these, I have been saving and drying a few in my window. You really only need a few beans for a meal. And they are really tasty sauteed with a little jalepeno. Even my husband likes them, which is saying something!

Bay leaves, long beans, peppers, & radishes

Pictured above are the leaves from the laurel bay that I am drying. Apparently, when you cook with them, you are supposed to tear the leaf a little to release the flavor. Who knew? All these years, I have been putting them into my spaghetti sauce recipe and didn’t realize I was supposed to be doing that.

Yesterday, I went to lunch with my delightful friend, Roma, who is so incredibly talented, if I do say so. And, afterward, I dropped by the fun boutique, Rustic Hutch, which is located on Gilbert & Baseline, in Gilbert. I found some really awesome candles there. I have been burning one this morning & love the smell.

McCall's Country Canning Candles

I bought 2 of them. The one above is for Christmas, & is really lovely. The one I have been burning this morning, is “Raspberry Lemon Tea” & I do believe I love it!

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