Sanctuary Gardener Update ~ 11/24/15

It’s Thanksgiving week, and the first frost is inching ever closer. It’s actually late this year – the year my garden was a mess and I have no fall crops growing. <sigh> But the weather is what it is. That said, I spent the weekend harvesting the vestiges of my garden’s last gasp – a few winter squash and a bunch of peppers. I also put up a new portable greenhouse to house my key lime trees and some potted plants through the winter.

IN THE GARDEN:

My weekend started with tidying up the garden beds along the front of my house and my walkway. The gladioli leaves were sufficiently brown, so it was safe to pull them – along with all the weeds. I also weeded the walkway and was happy to see how my herbs are actually growing back after being drowned, eaten by bugs, and toasted by the summer heat.

One of my spicy oregano plants is totally dead, but the other three are growing back and actually spreading out. Here’s a picture of one side of the walkway, after I trimmed out the dead stems and harvested some of the leaves.

Spicy oregano

Spicy oregano

My lemon thyme is growing back well. I trimmed out most of the dead stems, but these had some new growth along the branch; so I left them. It, too, is spreading out.

Lemon thyme

Lemon thyme

My German thyme, which I had forgotten about, started sprouting again – in the middle of one of my oregano plants. Go figure.

While moving my key lime trees, I noticed that one of them actually has a few blossoms – the first this year. My trees were injured by the frosts last year (despite the covering and Christmas lights), and I thought I had lost them. Well, in the spring, they started growing back. I pruned them and let them go. Now they’re the same size they were last year and I have my first blossoms. This coming weekend, I’ll be feeding them – which they desperately need.

Key lime flowers

Key lime flowers

GARDEN BOUNTY:

Knowing we had a potential frost coming, I went out to the garden to see if I could salvage anything from the herbs, squash, and peppers (the only plants still producing somewhat). I was actually surprised that I had as much as I did out there. Go figure. All together, I harvested about 6 ounces of herbs, 6.6 pounds of winter squash & pumpkins, and just shy of 6 pounds of peppers!

NOTE: Identification is from the top, clockwise.

After harvesting these herbs, I spent the afternoon drying the basil and oregano in the oven.

Spicy oregano harvest

Spicy oregano harvest

I picked the last of the basil – what was left of it, and several sprigs of curly parsley from the plant that reseeded itself.

Sweet basil & curly parsley

Sweet basil & curly parsley

In the pumpkin and squash “patch,” I found two pumpkins that had slipped the vine and were punctured by bugs. I hated throwing them away. But I did get a good pumpkin and a couple of semi-ripe Black Futsu squash that should ripen on the counter, not to mention a few sweet peppers.

Seminole pumpkin flanked by Black Futsu squash; Emerald Giant green (and red) bell peppers, Purple Beauty bell pepper, mini yellow stuffing peppers, mini red bell peppers

Seminole pumpkin flanked by Black Futsu squash; Emerald Giant green (and red) bell peppers, Purple Beauty bell pepper, mini yellow stuffing peppers, mini red bell peppers. Center: Cubanelle peppers

I harvested quite a bit of chili peppers! I have enough to dehydrate a batch and make another batch of hot pepper relish. Even the unripe cayenne, serrano, and fish peppers are still hot. (The lemon drop peppers are also just as hot when green; they just don’t have the lemony after taste as they do when they turn yellow.)

Cayenne peppers & pepperoncini

Cayenne peppers & pepperoncini

Hot cherry peppers & serrano peppers

Hot cherry peppers & serrano peppers

Fish peppers (in various stages of ripeness), jalapenos, lemon drop peppers (unripe & ripe), and Filius Blue peppers

Fish peppers (in various stages of ripeness), jalapenos, lemon drop peppers (unripe & ripe), and Filius Blue peppers

MY NEW GREENHOUSE:

Before I share pictures of my new greenhouse, I have to tell you what happened on Sunday. If I could’ve had it recorded, it would’ve been a contender on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” On Saturday afternoon, my Garden Wilson and I put my new portable greenhouse together on the patio. It’s basically an octagon-shaped clear plastic tent with a pointed top. We then tied the line to the greenhouse and staked it to the ground around my patio. The instructions stated that we needed to put sand around the lip of the greenhouse to stabilize it and keep the cold air out. (There’s a 4 or 5 inch plastic skirting around the bottom of the greenhouse.) Well, we figured we’d tackle that on Sunday, along with building the shelving inside.

On Sunday, while I was out harvesting my peppers, the wind was picking up – bringing in the cold front. I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see the wind pull up my greenhouse – stakes and all – and toss it top over bottom like a tumbleweed right in my direction! I stood up to try to catch it, and I was soon pinned between the greenhouse and the tomato stakes still in my raised bed. I didn’t want to move because I didn’t want the plastic to get punctured, so I just yelled out as loud as I could for help. My Garden Wilson was in my living room, with the doors and windows closed, so I wasn’t sure he’d be able to hear me. Between my giggles, I screamed as loud as I could (we Italians are good at that), and he came running out the door in his stocking feet, thinking I was dying or something. He started laughing as he pulled the greenhouse off of me, and we proceeded to get it back onto the patio.

However, no matter how many attempts we made at restaking the greenhouse, the wind was determined to pull the stakes. Well, I had an idea. On my patio I have several old boat anchors. Why not “anchor” my greenhouse with the anchors? So, we staked it down to my anchors and then added sand and some bricks. Ta-da! Success!

My new greenhouse - door side

My new greenhouse – door side

Inside, you can see my two key lime trees – and how big they’ve grown in a year (from a “dead” stump to this) – and my pots of comfrey and lemon balm.

My new greenhouse from the side

My new greenhouse from the side

From the back, you can see the shelving. I want to plant some lettuce in window boxes to put on the shelves. Depending on the temperature inside, I may put my seedling starts here in the spring.

My new greenhouse with the shelves inside

My new greenhouse with the shelves inside

Well, that was my weekend. Now, I’m preparing for putting up the peppers and cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

What’s happening on your homestead?

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3 comments on “Sanctuary Gardener Update ~ 11/24/15

  1. New greenhouse looks great! I’ve wanted a little one for a few years, still don’t have one! Garden did pretty good this fall considering the rough spell you had – I gave up on my neglected plot down in the village. Not enough hours in the day, it really bummed me out as I put in lots of hours this spring – but sometimes we have to tend other things more. Happy Thanksgiving!

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