Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fall in the VegHeadz Garden

Time to catch up with some of the happenings at the VegHeadz demo garden.  We had a great (but very hot) summer and harvested lots of Seminole pumpkins, peppers, Roselle, and peanuts among other things.  The move of our annual beds into the more sunny area of Bed 5 is well under way, and our new Edible Forest Garden in the partially shaded area of the garden is taking shape.  We will be planting trees between Thanksgiving and Christmas with other fall plants to follow, and a final planting in Spring of more tender things such as citrus. 

Roselle:  Master Garden Peggy McDonald is our Roselle whisperer.  She has been experimenting with things to make with the harvested calyxes and her recipes can be found here.  She has also marked some of the calyxes on the plant with tape to allow them to mature so that seeds can be gathered.  We have found that seeds harvested from the green seed pods when the calyxes are harvested have a very low germination rate and may tend to mold in the pod.  Peggy has had much better success with seeds allow to ripen on the plant. 

Aji Dulce peppers
Peppers:  Master Gardener Jeanne Breland planted a bed with seeds she obtained at the Leon County Library.  One of those varieties was our most successful pepper this year--Aji Dulce, a small colorful mildly spicy pepper which has produced in profusion.  They have proven delicious in salads (such as multi-bean salad), as well as stuffed with goat or cream cheese similar to peppadews.  This can be done with the peppers either fresh or pickled.  Other peppers which have consistently produced are Carmen, Datil, and Pablano.  Carmen is an especially sweet, juicy, thick fleshed variety that is harvested after it turns red and is wonderful to eat out of hand.  Both Datil and Pablono are mid range on the hot scale.  (Hotter if you include seeds when using)  Of course, Jalapeno peppers are also easy to grow and a reliable addition to your garden. 

Harvesting Peanuts

Peanuts:  Master Gardener Louie Doll who oversees our herb beds, decided to plant peanuts in a vacant raised bed this summer.  Peanuts are a legume and harvest nitrogen from the air for use by the current and subsequent crops.  They also make an excellent ground cover in the hot summer months and discourage weeds from taking over the bed.  In the fall we harvested several gallons of peanuts for boiling or roasting.  We did discover that we should have harvested them earlier, because late summer rains caused many of them to decompose.  This was our first try, so next year we will harvest earlier.  The benefits to the soil remain the same, and new plants have sprung up in places from peanuts left in the ground, so nitrogen is continuing to be supplied to the bed.

Sweet Potatoes:  We haven't planted sweet potatoes for several years, but we were able to harvest a good crop in our perennial garden from volunteers grown from bits of sweet potato roots left in the ground from our last harvest.  When allowed to grow, sweet potatoes are a perennial crop. 
Carol and Peggy can't believe the
size of this clump of sweet potatoes

Howard had fun digging for
sweet potato treasure
Ginger root and Turmeric:  Some ginger varieties grown for their flowers are spectacular.  We grow edible gingers but other than the Thai Ginger (Galangal), they are pretty unspectacular looking.  This year for the first time, the ones grown in the more sunny herb beds decided to bloom.  While pretty unassuming, we were excited and they were quite interesting.

Turmeric bloom

Bloom of Ginger root (Zingiber officinale)

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