Friday, July 23, 2010

Pickled Peppers

I finally finished off the pickled peppers and they were fantastic.

I searched the internet for a simple pickled pepper recipe. It seemed fairly simple and I couldn't find one that  suited my needs so I came up with my own. I slit the sides of the peppers to allow fluid to flow into them and air to escape. I then blanched them in boiling water for a few minutes. I boiled a brine mixture of 50/50 water and vinegar (2 cups of each) with a tbsp of salt and a tbsp of sugar. In a glass container (not a jar but only because I didn't have one) I tossed in a spring of oregano and basil and a spoonful of crushed chilies (just because but they served no purpose). After draining the peppers I laid them out in the container. Then I added the boiling brine: enough to cover the peppers and then a bit more. I used a fork to squish the air out out of the peppers so they would sink into the brine. The whole thing sat on the counter for an hour to cool and then went covered into the fridge.

I was impressed with the taste. And these things are hot but not terribly hot. I would say they're hotter than a jar of hot pickled peppers I can buy at the grocery store. I've seen some recipes that use just vinegar, no water, which seems a little hash to me. And next time I'll skip the herbs. Any flavour they added was overpowered by the peppers.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What's going on out there?

I was out yesterday morning watering plants before work and when I came home in the evening I discovered my Hungarian Hot Wax plants had decided they couldn't take it any more. I'm pretty sure I watered them. Maybe it wasn't enough. Maybe the combination of aphids and heat and lack of nutrients got to them. So the plants are a write off. I harvested the peppers which were just starting to ripen into yellow. I got a dozen. The longest was six inches. I'm going to pickle them.

The sugar pumpkin is going through a tough time. My guess would be a nutrient deficiency. But which nutrient? I would guess all of them. Or maybe an imbalance. Too much of one and not of the others. The vine has pretty much stopped growing and only the leaves on the last few feet of it are still completely green but as you work back down the vine, the leave get more and more yellow and black. This plant needs help but my guess is it's already too late. And like the hot wax peppers, this was a rather sudden change.

The brandywine tomato plants are getting big - over 6 feet tall now and half a dozen tomatoes on the go. My beets are coming up nicely. And although the jarrahdale pumpkin has yet to produce a rflowering female (i see one on the way though) the plant look great and is growing fast. I might not get any pumpkins from it but it sure looks good. So things are all that bad.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Flowering like mad

I counted 13 male flowers open on my sugar pumpkin vine this morning with no female flowers even close to opening on either of my pumpkin plants. Up until now I haven't seen any more than 2 or 3 males open at a time.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Waiting for Beets on the Balcony

I planted some beets last week: Chioggia and Yellow. The Chioggia came up fast; all of them. But only a couple of the Yellow beets have germinated. The temperates this past week have been very hot. A heat wave actually. That could have been a factor. Anyhow, I planted some more seed and I'll see what happens. It would probably be better to wait another week or two to stagger the crops anyways. In between the two groups of beets I planted a few baby carrots which have started to sprout up also. The whole crop is planted in a 1'x3'x ~1' deep box up against the "rail" of my balcony in the sunniest spot I have available. I have some Bulls Blood seed here also and maybe some other variety. It's a few years old now but I might eventually try some of that at the end of the month in the spots where nothing comes up.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Finally... Tomatoes.

My pumpkin pollination attempt was definitely a success. Now I just need to wait. I see another female about to open but it looks a little weak and I think it might fall before opening. Would be nice to get another pumpkin on the plant.

My brandywine tomatoes are coming along nicely also. The plants are just under 5 feet now. I didn't do a good job of staking and pruning and they're starting to get a bit bushy but I can live with it. First few tomatoes started popping out last week.

The aphids are winning the battle on most plants now. All peppers and eggplants. Neem oil is doing nothing for the peppers or the Bambino Eggplant but it does appear to be working on a small Casper Eggplant I've been mostly neglecting. The spider mites are doing well also. All herbs I purchased from a large and very popular garden center are infested. Still finding mildew on the pumpkins but it's managed. The only plants without issues are the tomatoes.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

First Pumpkin?

A new female flower opened on the sugar pumpkin a couple of days ago and there happened to be a couple of males open and ready on the vine also. I used every bit of pollen I could from them to pollinate the female. Still not sure if it worked. If it did I might have some trouble in the future trying to support this thing. It's at the top of the trellis off to one side.

My bambino eggplants are growing well but the plants are absolutely crawling with aphids. The neem oils isn't working fast enough for me. So i clipped off the fruit that had formed - probably should have done this a while ago to promote further fruiting. And I brought the plant to another family member's condo. There are no plants on that balcony so there the aphids can live in peace and I don't have to worry about mass infestation on my balcony. I'll hit it with some more neem oil and keep it watered and fed.

Last year I had a similar issue with bambino eggplants. The aphids were everywhere. And then one day, they just disappeared. The plants shot out lots of new growth, flowers and fruit and did quite well until fall came around and the aphids returned.