Since moving to a house with a basement three years ago, I have been experimenting with hanging whole tomato vines before the frost to ripen indoors. I’ve tried this technique in varying conditions: in a cold, dark basement; in the darker corners of an unheated porch; right up in the windows of the same south-facing unheated porch. I’ve tried it with whole plants: vine, leaves, roots and all, and I’ve tried hanging clusters only. I’ve also tried it with a range of varieties: from those that are considered long-keepers, to large beefsteak types, and tiny currants and cherries. All possible variations that I can think of have been covered.
Yesterday afternoon 20 gorgeous, and very large pumpkins/winter squash arrived on my doorstep courtesy of my friend Uli. She had gone out of her way to purchase many of them from a local farmer to use as Halloween decor, and a few others were given to her for free. Knowing that they would only rot outside, she offered to pass them onto me so that I could use them for taste-testing, cooking, and preserving.
One doesn’t come into a windfall like this very often so while it is probably a little bit crazy, and may very well drive me nuts, I accepted the challenge enthusiastically. Very enthusiastically, in fact. Realistically, I know that I will not be able to deal with this volume of squash in quick order, so some of these will be going off to friends once I’ve had a chance to take photographs and Davin has had some time to draw them.
I have a “stick them wherever they’ll fit” attitude towards onions, shallots, garlic, and leeks. While most edible alliums grow to be their biggest and best when the soil is rich and the sun is bright, I often start the season with more allium seedlings and sets than ideal space in which to plant them. Rather than tossing the surplus away into the compost bin, I tuck them into any little space I can find, regardless of the growing conditions. The end of the season is like a treasure hunt as I gather these little treats from their hiding spaces underneath bushes, alongside taller crops that grew and shaded them out, and even stuck into pots.
Back in late July I told you about a two-for-one squash from Argentina called ‘Pilar’ aka ‘Zapallito Redondo de Tronco’ that can be harvested young as a zucchini, or left to ripen and enjoyed later in the year as a winter squash. Well, three months have passed and I have begun harvesting and eating the fruit that were left to ripen into much larger winter squashes.
I love the idea of hot peppers much more than my body likes it when I eat them. For that reason I am always on the look out for what West Indians call “seasoning peppers.” That is, varieties that impart the flavour of hot peppers without the heat.* One of the best seasoning peppers that I have found is a beautiful, bright yellow-orange scotch bonnet aka habanero-type variety called ‘Trinidad Perfume.’