2023 Food Garden!

My garden has been struggling a bit with the heat, but we had some rain, so that improved things a bit
My basils have taken over the garden, wild basil, thai basil & kemangi.
Curry tree is putting up new plants everywhere. I may have to pull them out.
Papaya seedlings are plenty, but no nice fruits at the moment.
I seeded lots of tomatillo as the pack of seeds got wet. They are starting to produce. Never tasted one, so that’s going to be interesting :wink:
Yard long beans are still going strong
Bit quiet with everything else. Couple of fruits on my custard apple. Jack fruit, lemon, lime will all take some time
Galangal & turmeric are going strong and I’m happy to finally see some ginger coming through


Me too! I collected a golden-colored seasoning pepper in Grenada. It’s aroma and flavor are stronger than most habaneros, but barely a trace of heat.

Another seasoning pepper, which I call Carriacou Mild Red, was collected on that island. That pepper is a very shiny red, has thicker walls and slightly milder aroma.

These are not only essential for certain island dishes, such as Oil Down, they’re great for hot sauce blending. You can tame, adjust the fiery heat of the super hots and not change the flavor of the hot sauce.

The name “seasoning pepper” says a lot. Unlike bell and other sweet peppers, these usually aren’t a major component of a dish; their flavors are too strong and can overpower the dish. Instead, one to several of these smaller fruits are used much as a spice.

Most descriptions of their flavors struggle to accurately depict them. Many say “fruity” or “smoky”, neither of which capture the complex blend of fresh and funky, with a sort of mutton/goat element. When pickling these for hot sauce, they get halved to remove the seeds and core, filling the house with a powerful aroma!

While many of the new breeds, like Habanada, make it sound like breeders came up with something new, these mild Capsicum chinense have been grown by cultures all over the world for many decades, if not centuries; they just weren’t trying to capitalize from them.

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Sounds like a tropical paradise! Where are you located?

Some tomatillos (Physalis ixocarpa) get sweet when fully ripe, but many do not. They’re mostly used in salsas, either raw or roasted, charred. Fresh, many have an odd sort of vitamin flavor, which isn’t that great. A Polish cultivar, “Amarylla”, is one of the better tasting as a raw fruit. If you want a tomatillo relative with tasty raw fruit, there are better, albeit smaller, options. They fall under the broad name “Ground Cherries”.

Physalis peruviana, known by dozens of names, including Cape Gooseberry, Poha, Golden Berry. It’s a tall-growing plant with fruits generally under an inch, inside a papery husk. I grow it every few years and love the sweet-tart flavor. Here’s what the fruit looks like:

A smaller, lower growing group of plants, Physalis pruinosa, are sold under names such as “Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry” or “Goldie”. While their fruits are smaller, about 1.5cm, they’re delicious. This species often naturalizes, self-sows.

Both of the above species have delicious fruits. Physalis fruits need to fall off of the plants in order to be ripe. Sometimes, P. peruviana fails to fall off; but you can see the fruits’ stems (peduncles) have died, dried out, indicating ripeness. Often, they taste even better after sitting in a basket for a day or two.

I collected a wild Ground Cherry, growing in the sand dunes of the Outer Banks, North Carolina, USA. Tentatively identified as Physalis viscosa ssp. maritima, the fruits were enjoyable and my Mother made a delicious pie from them.

There are other edible species and cultivated types, lots of them. They’re in the same family as tomatoes, Solanaceae. Cute little fruits!


@bogman Dude! you are a living, breathing, plant-cyclopaedia! Thank you for generously sharing your knowledge with us.
:pray:t4: :pray:t4: :pray:t4:


No idea what type tamarillo I have. I figure I can eat the first one in 1-2 weeks time.
Thanks for your description of all the different fruits. I am familiar with the gooseberry :wink:

I am actually not sure if I am in the tropics or sub tropics. Right now we are in the rainy season so everything looks green. Rainfall is low though, so far.

LOL! Thanks! I’ve spent my whole life studying plants, all kinds. Food plants have been a passion since grade school. The garden here is huge and often used as an experimental growing area to see if certain food plants survive the heat and humidity, or the cold winters.

Maybe this obsession is unhealthy. I haven’t watched tv in over 40 years, except a little when visiting my parents (soccer games). There are two refrigerators in the basement, filled to the max with seeds and tubers. There’s no way to keep track of this pile of jars, vials and envelopes without a database, which was designed to do just that. There’s over 500 varieties stored in those fridges. Hmmm… that does sound concerning.

The botany thing may be a disorder, but it’s a happy malady; life is good!


Sounds healthy to me…


Garlic today

I put a few in the ground, which I haven’t tried in a very long time.

There are also a few buds on my stonefruit!


I grew to love tomatillos over the years. They make a fabulous salsa. I made a batch with half raw and half parboiled tomatillos, a jalapeno, some fresh roasted green chiles, salt, and some fresh lime juice. It was so good I took some over to the local work gourmet, Fred Landeen, an anesthesiologist, one of whose sons is a locally famous chef. He went nuts over it, it was an especially good batch. I wish you good luck!
I had to pull out the tomatillo I planted this summer, on account of it was dead. I thought it hadn’t produced, but I found a couple dozen itty bitty 3/4" tomatillitos on the top of my raised bed. I hope some of them hatch, I tried one, and it was pretty darn good.


Spotted some caterpillars inside the husks yesterday :frowning:
Sprayed a neen oil combo. Hope it is strong enough.
Normally I remove caterpillars by hand, but unfortunately that’s not possible here

That’s so annoying! Usually my tomatillos grow like weeds, but the summer before last, earwigs kept getting in the husks and damaging the fruit. Lower yield that year. We didn’t spray but tried sprinkling some diatomaceous earth and got some relief that way. Went with all tomatoes last year but will try again if we can find any plants.


Spring is coming.

We’re having a bit of a dry spell. Took advantage of the good weather to weed and nurture the asparagus beds. I spied a few spears sticking their noses out of the ground - yay!

Also found some hardy winter greens to pick. The kale is grown out in the open, and the spinach under cloche.


So jealous!

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I broke my own promise not to buy any more citrus trees.I broke down and ordered a new dwarf Meyer lemon tree because my current one flowers a lot, but none of the fruit matures larger than 3cm before they drop off. I’ve had success with all my other trees fruiting and maturing (they are all from one vendor, except the Meyer lemon), so I went through the same vendor this time. Hope it adjusts to indoor life well. Will be a good 2-3 months before it can go outside.


What vendor do you buy from? In Ca. I had both Eureka and Meyer lemons which did very well and were bountiful. Always had tons of lemon juices for all the different needs and froze gallons for summertime beverages. We also had an insipid grapefruit that the neighborhood kids would pick the fruits all the time and I didn’t mind because the tree gave a lit of needed shade where it was. Nothin’ like home grown! I do miss that. Now I buy all my produce from the grocers, with the exception of what little I grow during the short growing season and the farmer’s markets.

Please report if the neem works. Another possible remedy is Dipel, Bacillus thuringiensis Berliner strain (“Bt”). I think it may also be marketed as Thuricide. I prefer the dry granular because it will keep a very long time in the fridge or cool, dark spot. Unlike most other insecticides, it takes very little to stop the pest IF it is one of the vulnerable species. Bt is effective on many types of caterpillars. Apply during weak sun for best results and thorough coverage is important.

I’ve seem grape berry moth larvae get inside Physalis fruits.

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Slightly OT, but do you (or anyone else here) have any experience canning the Meyer lemon juice?

We’re going to give that a try this year and I’d be interested in hearing of anyone else’s trials. We would look forward to having this available in the summertime, and have more shelf space than freezer space.

I canned preserved Meyer lemons, and also made shrub and limoncello from them, if that helps.

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Oh, the shrub is definately of interest. I’ll look into that - thanks!

My thought about canning the juice is there will be some degradation of flavor, but we’ve canned other juices (grape and apple, primarily), and found having a means of preserving it was worth the trade-off. Hoping for the same with the lemons - would love to have lemonade or sorbet when the Meyers aren’t in season.

I just froze the juice (in ice cube trays, quart containers and also in sealed bags), and gave a lot away, too. I made a bunch of preserved Meyer lemons, too. I wouldn’t know how to can the juice thinking that heating the juice to seal it may take away from the flavor. Best of luck finding a method!

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