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Green (And Sometimes Purple) Growing Things

15 June 2012

Three weeks ago I bought a number of plants and herbs from various vendors in the area and finally put them in the prepared bed.  A combination of a temporary fence and the partially-complete permanent fence are protecting it from deer for now, but I will cover that process in a different post.

This family portrait includes 9 cultivars of basil (I’m a little obsessed), 2 varieties of eggplant, 7 varieties of tomatoes, 2 varieties of bell peppers, Mexibell sweet peppers, 5 kinds of hot peppers, 1 squash, 1 cucumber or zucchini (I’ll find out which when it produces), lemongrass, Cuban oregano, true and hybrid lavender, and amaranth.  I have notes on where they are from and what I paid for each plant, but I’ve decided to do a yearly economic evaluation in a single post this winter.  The total cost of all these plants to go in the summer bed was around $110.

Most of the basil is doing quite well, except the red rubin and Aristotle basil.  The red rubin’s illness perplexes me.  The Aristotle I think doesn’t get much bigger than it already is (less than a foot high) and seems more of an ornamental plant, or perhaps something one would keep on a windowsill.  I bought it because its tiny leaves intrigued me.

Three of the varieties of tomatoes are growing quite well, but the rest are sick, and I’m not sure why.  The roma is doing exceptionally well and I’ve had to put a cage around it because it is so big, but it isn’t producing fruit yet.  All of the sweet peppers are small and sickly, but most the hot peppers are growing.  The eggplants and squash are doing quite well.

Before I bought this, I’d never even heard of amaranth.  The woman who sold this to me said little more than that it is a vegetable similar to spinach.  I’ve learned since then that it was the staple crop of the Aztecs, just about the entire plant is edible, it is extremely resistant to heat and drought, and the seed has different nutritional value from other grains.  I’m not really sure which species this is, but I’ve eaten a few of the leaves already, and I find them agreeable.  This plant, in spite of being stepped on during construction of the fence just a day after planting, has skyrocketed and shows no sign of slowing.  I’m very interested learning more about it from personal experience, both through watching how it grows and lives in this climate and how I react to it in a culinary sense.  If I like it, I may devote quite a bit of garden space to it next year.

I’d also never heard of fatali pepper before I bought this.  The woman who sold it to me let me sample some sauce she had made with it, and it had a very interesting flavor and an unusual burn.  Unfortunately, it’s grown quite sick, and since I know absolutely nothing about it, I don’t know what to do.  Most of the other hot peppers are doing well.  I hope it survives and bears fruit, because I always love making friends with a new hot pepper.

Images of almost every plant in this bed are in today’s gallery.  I put a lot of 10-day comparisons side-by-side in the gallery, so you can see the same plant 10 days apart.

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4 Comments
  1. c4faith permalink

    Do we need to stage a basil intervention? 😉

    Have you thought about sending a soil sample to the extension office for (free) pH testing? They might even have someone you could contact with specific questions to find out why those types of tomatoes and peppers aren’t happy.

    • Yes, I had originally intended to send them a soil sample before I started the garden, but never got around to it. It would probably still be helpful to do that now. And I need to call the cooperative extension agency anyway about the mint, so I will ask them about the fatali pepper, too. Thanks for the suggestions.

  2. Carrie permalink

    Sweet bell peppers always seem to do better for me in the fall around here. It seems like the heat is actually too much for them. Hot peppers, on the other hand, seem to thrive on the heat for me. (When we planted three cayenne plants, I ended up drying more peppers than we could even use, and we like heat.) I’ve never tried the fatali variety, though.

    How are you fertilizing them? (Organically, I assume, of course.) Might they need a bit more food?

    • I’m only using compost for fertilizer. I put the recommended amount from Jeavons’s book, but the quality of this soil doesn’t seem great at the moment. Jeavons says it takes a few years for poor quality soil to improve significantly. I didn’t think this soil was that bad, though, since my parents worked it for several years, but that was mostly in the 90s and very early double-oughts. They grew peppers here before and they did okay, but not great. I will try to keep them alive until the fall and maybe they will produce then. I will probably ask the woman who sold me the fatali about it as soon as I get a chance to return there.

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