I had a much larger post in mind for today, but we have to take our aging cat in for an emergency vet visit in a few minutes so I’ll have to pull it back slightly. It’s scary, facing the fact that this little animal whose life is so intertwined with mine and whose care I’ve been in charge of for so many years doesn’t have much time left. The house cat’s life expectancy is only so long, and given the health problems she has had in the past, I worry everyday that there is not much time left. She’s a royal pain in the ass, but I love her so much, probably even for it.
But I digress. Hot peppers. Most people know by now that while I love to grow hot peppers, I do not eat them. As a garden writer whose focus is primarily on food, it is important that I taste everything I write about in order to provide a personal account, but the reality is that I’ve long since lost the ability to digest hot peppers well. The gastrointestinal tract does not approve.
But there is something about hot peppers that keeps me excited about growing them, and each year I spend hours searching for new varieties to try. Even though I don’t eat them, I am always thrilled when the first fruits appear and later ripen. Hot peppers are beautiful plants, and with thousands of varieties available world wide, there is a lot to get excited about.
First there is the name, which gives me a chuckle every time I say it as it sounds like the site of an epic Trolls versus Elves battle in The Lord of the Rings.
“And there was great despair in the land, for the blood of many fearless warriors was spilled in the great battle at Hahms Gelbe…”
It feels like “vanquished” should be used in there somewhere. Or perhaps Hahms Gelbe is a badlands where people are sent to exile. “He was doomed to live out his final days as a lost soul wandering wearily through the blackened and barren desert of Hahms Gelbe.”
Needless to say, I’d better not quit my day job as a garden writer. Doesn’t look like I’ll be making my millions ghost writing fantasy fiction for World of Warcraft fans.
My obsession with oxalis is not undocumented on this site. I’ve got an entire tag dedicated to it. What I haven’t said here is that I’m really not into the large-leaved shamrock-style oxalis you see in stores around St. Patrick’s Day.
Just not my thing.
So it comes as a bit of a surprise to me just how much I have come to adore this ‘Iron Cross’ Oxalis (Oxalis deppei). Although, it’s not exactly a big-leaved type, I’d describe the size as moderate…. somewhere between the big leaved types and the diminutive ones I’ve come to favour.
We ate our first tomato of the 2011 growing season on June 24, just days after the Summer Solstice. This isn’t the earliest tomato I’ve grown, but it’s been a cold, slow year so by those standards we are right on target.
The winning variety this year is ‘Ditmarsher’ a compact, tumbling determinate variety that takes very well to containers and window boxes. I started the seeds on March 20.
I first heard about this variety from my friend Julianna, the queen of tomatoes in these parts. It quickly became a favourite and one I always plan to turn to as a reliable early-producer. Like ‘Whippersnapper’ (a variety that is often the first producer of the year) it produces loads of pinkish, cherry-sized tomatoes. They just keep coming. Just look at the plant above. It’s laden with flowers that will become future tomatoes. Between it and the three others like it that I have in even larger pots, we should be set for cherry tomatoes for the remainder of the summer months.
If any of my other tomatoes are even half as productive, I’m going to have to go on a serious Nightshade Family fast come fall.
Another corner of my garden. This is fuzzy ‘Pineapple’ mint growing in a pot. I’ve resolved to grow all of my mint in pots this year. Contrary to reputation, mints behave rather well over at my community garden. The trick to keeping them under control seems to be growing them in less than ideal conditions. Plus, over there they have to fight against the wild and alpine strawberries for supreme dominance and guess who’s winning that war?
Here though, I expect mint to flourish and then some so I’m playing it safe for now. Everyone in pots!
The pretty floral design seen in the shot (above) is the top of a foot stool I found in the garbage the other night. Going out on garbage night around here is like going shopping! We’ve done well outfitting the garden with our neighbours’ discards.
The stool is red and the top is covered in this amazingly vibrant plastic mac-tac. I LOVE it! If the previous owner comes across this photo and realizes their mistake: I’m sorry but you can’t have it back.