Harvesting Leftovers

November 8, 2010

Harvest basket

Here in the basket I have some tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, the leftovers from my summer crops. The quality of these late season crops is not as good as it used to be a month or two ago, but I am so happy to have them right now. They make good company for the abundant kale that we’ve been eating this week but I repeatedly forgot to photograph.

This year is a perfect treat for me to have these plants still so productive since I’ve planted a very small fall garden. In three weeks I will start remodeling my current garden, I hope, to get more growing space and better critter protection so it didn’t make sense to fill the garden with crops that I would have to rip up before maturity. I am in love with my summer nightshades, they manage to stay productive even though the nights are getting cool around here. They are making the most of our periodic heat spells. I hope they can get going just a little bit longer.

For more delicious pictures and stories of harvests and to add your own, head on over to Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Monday, and take a look at what other gardeners have been up to this week.

What’s Going On with These Peppers?

November 6, 2010

Chopping Peppers

Let’s start with some background. My peppers plants, planted back in April are still going strong. They have a lot of green fruits on them which are ripening slowly but surely. It’s been hot lately, but it was pretty cold a week ago, so they have seen quite a range of temperatures. Most of them are Corno di Toro and Jimmy Nardello, two Italian sweet pepper heirloom varieties.

Here I am happily chopping some Corno di Toro for a stir fry. As I am chopping I take a bite, I taste the familiar sweetness of these Italian peppers and then, ouch, it burns? Wow, this thing is hot! Hot like a New Mexico chile. But it doesn’t taste like a chile, it tastes like a sweet Italian pepper. Sweet and burning hot all at once. What’s wrong with these peppers?

I have been harvesting for a few months now from these very same Corno di Toro plants, and not once I got a spicy pepper. Not once. Actually, I’ve grown this variety for several years now. Never got even a hint of spiciness from them. So I am really surprised. Is it this bouncing from 50 degree days to 90 degree days we’ve been having this fall? Or maybe the shorter days of fall?

In any case, hot peppers make a great addition to any stir fry so after the initial surprise into the wok they went. Dinner turned out great and now I know not to take a big bite from my formerly sweet peppers.

Around the Garden: California Fuchsia, Epilobium canum

October 30, 2010

California Fuchsia

If you look carefully in the chaparral around the garden, you will always find some plant in bloom with tubular red flowers. It might be the discreet blooms of a Dudleya, the sudden burst of red of an Indian Pink, the pendant blooms of a Heart-leaved Penstemon, any time of year you will find one native plant or other offering sustenance to our resident Anna’s hummingbird. Right now, late in the year, when most plants are busy bringing forth new leaves, the California Fuchsia is blooming.

California Fuchsia

There is a lively clump of our native Fuchsia in the orchard, between an apple tree and some raspberries, hugging a rock. As I was taking these photos a female Anna’s hummingbird came by several times, looked at the flowers, looked at me, looked at the flowers and flew off.

California Fuchsia

I kept trying to make myself as small and still as possible so I could photograph the hummingbird. To no avail. It simply was not comfortable having me around or otherwise didn’t like this clump. In any case, it didn’t stop to feed on these flowers and I didn’t get a photo of a hummingbird on a California Fuchsia for you.

The Chaparral After Some Rain

October 26, 2010


For the last ten days I’ve been living inside a cloud, literally. Rainy season on the mountaintop can be like this, slow constant drizzle for days, a shower here and there. So far we’ve got a little over two inches of rain, enough to wake the chaparral out of its summer dormancy. The sun just came out, the fog is slowly receding in the distance.


The lingering moisture will not last long.

Flat Rock

A natural moss and lichen garden.

New Grass

Annual Mediterranean grasses germinate immediately, all it takes is a quarter inch of rain. Those in the photo must be some Bromus species, I am not sure which one. If they are lucky and the rain continues they will out-compete native annuals, which are slower to germinate. If the rains stop now and don’t come back until the end of the year, this Bromus won’t make it and the natives will have a better chance.

Dudleya lanceolata

Native perennials are waking up, like these two Dudleyas (D. lanceolata), full of water and vibrancy, ready for a new growing season.

I am the one who is not ready for a new growing season. After all the work in the summer garden and all the putting food by I rather wander around the chaparral with my camera. The garden can wait, whether the carrots or the arugula go in a few days earlier or later, it doesn’t matter. As long as I plant the garlic and the favas on time…

Right now I am out here on the rocks with the moss and the dudleyas, the sun is shining, I can finally see the ocean after ten days of living inside a cloud.

Harvesting Summer Well into Fall

October 17, 2010


Second half of October, a dreary day, non stop drizzle, and summer comes to my kitchen counter. This is how it’s been all week: tomatoes and more tomatoes, lots of tomatillos, beans, some eggplants and peppers, a bit of basil, a melon every other day, and dahlias. I’ve also been picking a steady supply of lettuce, onions and nopales.

I am now harvesting the vegetables that ripened during our most recent heat wave. There are still plenty of green tomatoes and peppers on the plants waiting for the next few hot days. There are melons ripening on the vines.

I am curious about the tomatillo plants: will they put out another flush of flowers and fruits? Hard to tell, but they’ve surprised me before. Such are the delights of the lazy gardener. A few weeks back I thought the tomatillos were done for good. The plants looked overpowered by powdery mildew and I was just waiting for a good moment to pull them out, clean and plant the next crop. I didn’t feel like it, I didn’t do it. Today I find the mildew basically gone and the plants heavy with new fruit. You can see them up there, on the counter, that’s a large salad bowl they are in.

I have Italian black and Russian red kale waiting to be picked in the garden too. I am not even getting close to them. I’ll have a long winter to eat kale. For the moment I’ll stick to the tomatoes, the peppers, the eggplant. For the moment I am not ready to let go of the fruits of the summer, and neither is my garden.

For more delicious pictures and stories of harvests and to add your own, head on over to Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Monday, and take a look at what other gardeners have been up to this week.


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