I will make this short and sweet: it's October and the peppers are turning yellow!
1. Some of them are very small, like the size of my fingertip.
2. I don't even like peppers.
Since my tomatoes were a little, uh, delayed this year due to multiple moves, I hadn't had more than a few tomatoes at a time. But there's always this time when they all come at once and friends, we have reached it. I picked a lot of these while they were still green because in my experience tomatoes will either rot or be eaten by insects and animals before they have a chance to fully ripen outside. I just set my green tomatoes someplace darkish - I don't bother with that wrapping in newspaper nonsense that I tried last winter - and leave them for about a week, checking every so often to make sure nothing's rotting. Like so:
row of tomatoes
Those tomatoes above may be on a windowsill but they actually won't get any sun...confusing, I know. Row houses! I just don't have any real counters yet in my kitchen so the windowsill will have to do. This is a little more than half my harvest because I gave away a big bag of them to a friend. Someday I'll learn to can things and make up a big batch of tomato sauce to use throughout the year but since my stove is sitting in the middle of the living room this is not the year for that. Also it feels selfish to keep three or four dozen tomatoes to myself: my boyfriend and I love tomatoes but I don't think anyone can love tomatoes that much.
The red tomato in the row is a Dr. Walter and very prettily heart-shaped:
Dr. Walter, I presume...wait, I've already made that joke
Such a perfectly tomato-y tomato! Unfortunately it tastes, well, gross. I mentioned this before when I got my first Dr. Walter: they're just kind of bitter. I thought that first one might just be a fluke, but these new ones were grown in different soil (back when I had gazillions of gardens) so I think it's just the variety of tomato. Everything I read said that they were good for markets because they were pretty and that part is true, but I really don't like the taste. I think these will be turned in to sauce...
I leave you with an updated view of the bathtub in all its vegetable goodness. Welcome, fall!
Just when I thought there weren't any tomatoes on my plants I saw these:
And lots of peppers, too!
I didn't do much to my plants this past week because we had so much rain, so it was nice to come out and see all the growing that's been going on. Unfortunately this kind of growing was happening, too:
I've been pinching these little suckers off because I read something about tomatoes that told me to do that. It's kind of fun!
We've been lucky to be getting all this rain - not so lucky when you get caught in it walking home from work - but the plants love it. I think the 2nd Annual Garden Tour couldn't come at a better time. Think how lush all these gardens are going to be!
I realized the other day that all the vegetables I planted in the bathtub were, to my surprise, doing quite well. So I thought I'd take a quick look back at the month-ish long progression of the bathtub plants.
Here they are on July 19th. Such sad, sad plants! They had been suffering in pots on a porch that was not very sunny. Poor guys.
eggplant, tomatoes and peppers
On July 26th they didn't look much better but you can see the eggplant in the left-hand corner of the tub has nice new green leaves:
still pretty yellow
Somewhere along the line they must have decided they liked the tub so by August 4th they were looking fuller and needed more staking:
much more green!
And then, well, things got crazy with my house and we had lots of rain and before I knew it the tub was bursting with vegetable plants! They look healthy! This is August 21st:
tomatoes always take over, but the eggplant and peppers are holding their own
As usual, the tomatoes have engulfed all their stakes and have blooms but not too many tomatoes. I did eat a yellow copia that was sweet and delicious but unfortunately I failed to photograph it. Here is some photographic evidence that the peppers are growing, though:
My unscientific explanation for why there are no tomatoes yet is that the tomato plants themselves have to grow bigger (which they can now since they have lots more dirt to grow in) before they start producing tomatoes. I've been trying to break off the suckers when I see them - to tell the plants that it's time to start producing fruit instead of just continuing to grow - but they grow so fast now that I miss lots of them if I'm not out there every day. But as long as we get no freak September snowstorms I'm fine with harvesting early fall tomatoes. Last year I was still getting tomatoes into December so right now I'm in no rush.
And just a reminder that the Second Annual South Philly Garden Tour is coming up on September 8th! I speak from experience when I say the last one was loads of fun. You can read my thoughts on last year's tour here. Now go get your tickets! It really is amazing to see what people can grow in small city spaces.
Last time I touched on the fact that I was, um, struggling with some invasive plants that go by the name of Wild Morning Glory (Convolvulus arvensis), not to be confused with the nice, non-wild Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor or Convolvulus tricolor.) Regular Morning Glory is nice and not invasive at all: it grows and flowers and then dies and it's gone. Normal plant stuff. BUT. This wild one is different. Check out the roots on this little one I just pulled up:
You can see by my handy thumb-scale that the part of the plant that was above the ground was very, very small. But those roots, especially those two fat ones, are HUGE. Those fatties are also the ones that release this odd, peppery, skunky smell when you break them, which is always accompanied by much cursing that you broke the root instead of pulling the whole thing out. At least, uh, in my case. But you know what? You can't pull the whole thing out because it grows ANYWHERE. Case in point:
That little one is growing through concrete. Concrete! There is a tiny crack there and somehow this little thing found its way out through it. With some quick Googling I found lots of people complaining incredulously that they tried to dig the roots of these devilish things out only to find they went all the way under their houses. Yikes.
The issue isn't that it's an ugly plant; it has nice flowers like Morning Glories and it certainly grows fast which is usually a good thing in my book. Here it is covering the fence on one side of my yard when I first bought my house:
can't even tell there's a fence under there, right?
So that's cool. The problem is that it strangles other plants - I had to pull it off the tomatoes and the little Japanese maple that were struggling for their lives. It will actually choke plants and kill them and you know what? That's not very nice. I normally like vines - ivy and honeysuckle in particular - but those are not so vicious as to actually kill many plants, at least not, you know, overnight. Seriously, if you let this thing go for more than a couple of days you'll have a big problem on your hands.
I'm still committed to getting rid of it without chemicals and I have read a few things that say that if you pull out the top growth repeatedly - like every other day - it will cut off the plant's food production system and maybe in a few years it'll all die. I kid, but it is actually tough to kill it that way and you have to keep at it, or the parts of the plant that sprout will give the roots enough food to continue living. It doesn't really help to pull out the roots (although it is extremely satisfying to rip out foot after foot of these horrible, smelly roots) because if you control the top foot or so of the plant you'll kill the food supply, which will in turn kill the rest of the plant. Apparently the roots can go down 20 feet or more so it is actually pretty futile to try to get them all - basically you never will so you'd better just give up now. It's a good thing this isn't a metaphor for anything because that would be depressing.
After all that, I think we should end on a positive note. My pepper plants are literally bursting with baby peppers and I have lots of green tomatoes on their way to ripening. Let's end with this strange and slightly phallic baby Jersey Giant tomato, and I apologize for using the words "phallic" and "baby" in such close proximity:
Jersey Giants not yet giant
So I continue to struggle to control the voracious weed while delighting in my soon-to-be bounty. Onward and upward, indeed.