2020 Veggie Gardens!

Sorry to hear @shrinkrap - take it easy and a speedy recovery to you!

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I pulled my back brushing my teeth, so planting peas at least sounds cooler. And yesterday after raking for 2 hours, I had to sit down and rest my back. :expressionless: When did we all turn into our grandmothers?

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We sit too much behind the screens immobile. I’ve the same back problem after gardening, but improve a bit with some light exercises. Need more muscles in the back. I always admire @ccj that she can work in garden for 8 or more hours everyday.

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I jinxed us. The record for November 9th is apparently 29 F, and we are expecting about 33 F tommorow from 6- 7 AM.

I had to get out some chicken wire to cover the raised bed that I just planted with garlic bc squirrels (i think) came and made a mess digging holes. I don’t think they were after the garlic? But maybe burying their own treats in the newly turned bed?

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Yeah, my squirrels never were too interested in the garlic. If they were curious about the leaves and the cloves, I think they quickly learned it was not good eats for them. Now bunnies…I suspect bunnies did like my onions and might have dug up a few cloves or two.

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I think the bunnies avoid our backyard bc of the very fast German shepherd watching my garden. He chases the squirrels but thankfully has never caught one!


Shrinkrap…Ouch! Hope you heal quickly! Getting old is better than the alternative, so they say.

Lovely greenhouse! The warmth will feel great during cold days when the sun’s shining!

The Aji, once really established, would be hard to replant. If it’s heavy, probably not worth the risk. If it can be lifted safely and repotted, here’s a repotting trick: take the old pot off the root ball and use it to form a hole in the new pot. You’ll need moist soil, so the hole will hold its shape. Rock the old pot back and forth, inside the new pot filled with soil, to make it a bit wider and easier to drop the transplant in.

A dolly or hand truck, with inflatable wheels, is very handy for safely moving heavy pots. Some of my pickling crocks are too heavy for me to carry, so they get rolled around.

We haven’t had a freeze yet, which is very weird. Nice to have an extra month of growing season, though. Bok Choy is coming in.

These are both open pollinated/heirloom types. Shanghai on the left and Chinese White, a.k.a. Canton on the right. They’re both exactly the same age. Some Bok Choy is planned to get fermented and dried to make “Tianjin Preserved Vegetable”, a condiment full of umami. I found a recipe how to make it, but bought it in the past. The only concern is that the garlic, bok choy, nappa ferment gets dried slowly. This may make the house reek for awhile! That’d be a double-whammy: smells bad during ferment-smells worse while drying. At least it’s not like making fermented sardines or squid! (No, not happening in this house!)


I found another use for Florence Fennel leaf stalks (petioles). After they’re cut off the bulb, cut the stalks to remove the joints, so the stalk pieces are straight and smooth. You can see dots on the end grain, where the strings are. Using a paring knife, you can snag these and pull them down and off the stalks, much like de-stringing celery.

Cut on a sharp bias, angle, you get these cool little, serrated ovals.

These can be tossed into salads or used for whatever without those tough strings getting in the way. There is one catch:

Some Finocchio, Florence Fennel stalks are very hollow and this does not work well for those. I grew Romy and Fino varieties. Romy makes usable stalks and Fino does not. Romy also made fatter bulbs than Fino. So, Fino stalks are better suited for flavoring stocks which will get strained.


That sounds great! I pickled some stems this summer but the strings made them almost inedible.

I’m making racaito/sofrito with your rocotillo peppers, among other things. They smell amazing. I’ll be using it for (pigeon) peas and rice on Tday.

I would love to grow culantro (Gno ghai). Has anyone here had success with growing it?

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Shrinkrap, that sounds delicious! Pigeon Peas and “seasoning peppers” is something I loved when visiting Grenada and Carriacou . The ladies coop there made a delicious and fiery sauce called “Grenfruit”, which had super hot C. chinense, papaya and a bunch of other ingredients. I don’t know if it can be found today, but it was amazingly good.

Lovely bowl of peppers!

I never got around to planting culantro, Eryngium foetidum. Here’s a good writeup from Purdue. Since it’s tropical biennial, I couldn’t save seed easily. I read the seeds can be irregular in germinating.

The late season crops continue. I dug up some Stachys affinis, also called “Crosnes”, Chinese Artichoke and Gan Lu Zi; the last being most appropriate, since the plants come from China and other parts of Asia and not from France. These are from one of the larger-tubered plants:

The flavor is mild, a little like corn and lima beans mixed, but different. They’re supposed to have many beneficial properties, if not eaten in excess. Contrary to literature, I’ve stored them for long periods in the fridge, as long as they don’t dry out. I’m keeping enough stock in the fridge to distribute. Some will be left in the ground and dug as desired.

Since the Horned Mustard wasn’t making the characteristic “horns”, I was beginning to wonder if I had mislabeled seed. However, with the onset of colder weather and the plants getting older…

You can see the bump in the midvein, which gives the variety its name. Right now, it’s quite mild with a robust mustardy taste., good with some dark sesame oil, Chinkiang Vinegar and a bit of soy sauce or miso. I love tuna salad wrapped in these leaves. Some will get preserved by salting and fermenting. The plants are quite cold hardy, froze at 26 degrees F (-3 C) and didn’t get damaged.

These mustards are the true “Brown Mustard”, Brassica juncea. There’s a ton of confusion with the Brown and Black mustards. Every time I order “Brown Mustard” to make the condiment, it ends up being the much more common Black Mustard seed, Brassica nigra, used so much in Indian cuisine. B. nigra seeds tend to be hotter and more bitter, not as good as B. juncea for creating a good condiment. I use B. nigra after it has been dry toasted in a skillet, but raw, it’s kind of acrid. I may see if the Horned Mustard survives the winter and flowers next year. Maybe the seeds are suitable for making a good deli mustard.

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The pigeon peas.

Here is the finished dish.

I’m going to research that “Grenfruit”!

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Researching Grenfruit! Interesting. Thanks for the insights about brown and black mustard seed. I often struggle with that.

Oops! That was supposed to be a reply to @bogman.

I gave away all the rhubarb, the 2 roots are now in 3 different gardens, one as far as in Brittany, wish they will have a happier life than here. With the space, 3 more raspberries will be planted, I got 1 Zeva and 2 late variety Willamette. Got a Purple Haze nut bush, not expecting much in productivity, but like the purples leaves. I also got some edible ferns arrowheads and wild garlic for the shaded areas.

Temperature goes down a lot lately, need to move indoors the last plants like Cymbidium, I hate doing this, it’s a huge plant and is flowering right now. Strawberries have made so many runners, it’s also time to put them in new pots. The citrus and the dwarf peach bush need re-potting… maybe the cherry tree as well.

I just noticed that hellebore leaves behind have some problem…

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Shrinkrap, you eat well! I searched and searched and cannot find Grenfruit or any current information on the cooperative. If that sauce is still made, maybe it’s not exported. Wish I kept the empty bottle for nostalgia and ingredients listing! But, I’d rather buy it and support the cooperative.

I did bring back pepper seed from both Grenada and Carriacou. I’m trying to keep these going, as they’re very worthwhile peppers; all are C. chinense:
•Grenada Mild Yellow-strong “muttony” odor, smells like a super hot, but a mild “seasoning pepper”.
•Grenada Hot Red- tall bushes with pointed, top-shaped peppers, very hot. Red color good for hot sauce.
•Carriacou Mild Red- shiny red, plump top-shaped fruit with fragrance similar to Rocotillo, also a mild seasoning pepper.

Naf, don’t Hellebores die back this time of year, go dormant? Lovely Cymbidium!


Those ARE beautiful @naf! Mine don’t bloom until spring.

@bogman, I could only find some mentions about the Grenfruit cooperative in a book I found called “The Shadows Of The Sun: Caribbean Development Alternatives And U.S. Policy”.

My hellbore never goes completely dormant, and blooms in the winter. It’s white, but I don’t remember the name. On January 31st.

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Thanks! Those on the last photo are orchids. My hellebores too, bloom in late winter or early spring. As far as the plants I have, I don’t see them dormant, I see those brown leaves as more me as a bad gardener. I guess there are different varieties.

From March last year.

I love that plum color. My cymbidium’s bloom in the spring! At least one does. I’ve had that one outdoors for 20 years. . I got a new one in a grocery store that was in bloom when I bought it.


I saw some shoots a few weeks ago, but they seem to have died back. I thought it was an unusual time to bloom, but maybe not.

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Love the orange yellow flowers. How low is your temperature in winter? Do you ever snow?

I’ve found more hellebores pict, February this year.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold