*Hangs head in shame*
Overdue, because freezing overnight temperatures have pretty much brought gardening season to an end, and this sad garden journal has really been neglected. I guess that means I’ve been too busy to sit down with my notes, but that’s not 100% the truth. Anyway, I have some thoughts and pictures to share about the gardening behind me this year.
First, Mr. Ghost Pepper. I had to grow this one. Had to! Andy and I had watched a few episodes of Heat Seekers on the Food Network, and they were frequently encountering dishes with the ghost pepper in it. They would eat these foods and end up in tears because they were so hot. I was intrigued as to why anyone would want to eat these peppers. And then, on an episode of Top Chef, a winning dish used one ghost pepper, and got huge raves from everyone tasting. I instantly became curious about this pepper. Surely it had some kind of flavors in it aside from the extreme heat.
I was gifted a small pack of seeds, and was very excited, but also afraid to see what all the fuss was about. My plants grew well, and I found that these did well both in the ground and in a pot. I could tell no difference, really between the two, as I had two plants in the garden and two in pots. When I finally had red peppers, it was with serious trepidation that I harvested one to float in a batch of salsa. Seriously. I picked that pepper with rubber gloves on- and I used some tongs to handle it. A knife cut a few slits and in it went to the salsa. I was so worried about getting affected by the capsaicin in these things!
The first batch of salsa turned out great- really tasty, but suprisingly little heat. Some, but I also used plenty of other hot peppers. There was an underlying tropical flavor though that isn’t normally present in my salsa. I was intrigued and wanted to take it a step further. So I chopped up one ghost pepper very finely and made a batch of salsa with that. That may be one of my best flavored salsas I’ve ever had. There is still some heat, but it’s not the tear inducing heat that I was anticipating from this ghost pepper. The flavor, though, is spectacular, there really is a reason people want to eat ghost peppers. In fact, when you cut into one you can smell this amazing floral-tropical fragrance, and you really do want to bite into it.
I have not tasted a ghost straight up. And I don’t intend to. The plants themselves are very productive, and I ended the season with a pile of ghost peppers, and no plans for them. In fact I easily ended up with about two gallons of hot peppers, and nothing to do with them. It was a good year for peppers. Overall, though, the ghost pepper is a keeper. It should still be treated with care, after all the scoville units are through the roof, but it turns out there IS a way to tame the heat- and that’s what I was after. I think I will always endeavor to have one ghost in the garden.
Potatoes, on the other hand, are a completely different story. I was so excited to try potatoes this year, because I’ve heard that they are such an effortless vegetable. I did everything I was supposed to, and my harvest was absolutely dismal. I planted 12 plants, and ended up with this harvest:
No lie. The tiniest handful of potatoes ever- and this was two varieties, Kennebec and Fingerlings. I made a baked potato pizza with them- which turned out great, but all I could think was that this was a huge waste of growing space and good compost. I don’t know what went wrong, and part of the problem could be the potatoes we started with. I ordered them from a Wisconsin company- thinking that climate appropriate potatoes would be best. But when they arrived, the potato pieces were covered with mold, along with a note saying that the mold was harmless. Now, my plants did grow. The plants themselves grew great- there were just no tubers in the dirt. The two people I shared my potatoes with also had dismal crops, so I don’t know what to say about them. According to what I’d read, the quantity of potatoes I’d planted should have amounted to a good fifty pounds of potatoes- which is about what we would go through in four months time. To have one pizza to show for my efforts?
So I doubt I’ll be growing potatoes again. At least while we are where we are with limited space. As it is, right now I’m eyeballing the potato patch for an onion patch. I’m determined to figure out how to grow those this next year. This year for my salsa making, the only produce I needed to buy was onions and cilantro. Now, growing cilantro is silly to me, when I can buy a ton of it for just sixty-nine cents. And onions ARE inexpensive, but I’d love to be able to make my salsa with all homegrown vegetables. I just haven’t had luck getting my onions to bulb up.
Though, I will confess, I have been reading up on SWEET potatoes, and am a little tempted in that direction too.