Peppers…They’re Perennials!

This time I’ll be highlighting a lot of the pepper varieties that we have this year. Sweet or hot, all peppers are perennials. So either grow them in pots or dig ’em up from the garden but either way bring ’em indoors before it gets below 50 at night.

What’s the point you ask?

Well if you’re anything like me, the long wait for peppers until what, July, even AUGUST…is excruciating. Who in the world wants to wait that long for peppers? When you take advantage of peppers being perennials you don’t have to wait that long. Not only did my indoor peppers produce, in a south facing window on a radiator, until DECEMBER…but they started flowering in March. Got fruit by April.

Perennial peppers means no more waiting all summer for the plants to mature.

Perennial peppers means peppers anytime you want them, from April through December.

And considering the cost of organic peppers in the store??  That’s a blessing!

I just treated mine like houseplants. They got a little ugly. See, they were used to a certain amount of sun, and warm, humid air. Sunshine and cool breezes. Once in my house they got cats sleeping in the pots, me forgetting to water them, kids pulling off the fruits too soon, dry air, minimal sunshine. By the end of winter they certainly looked sad.

But the point here is that they survived. 8 pepper plants survived the winter in my house and now all they want to do is put out fruit…in May. Awwww yeah.

So here are the varieties we’ve grown for you this year, and please remember, Peppers are Perennials.

Dare I say we’d be happy to adopt any unwanted peppers at the end of summer…?

Sweets!

Chocolate? That's the only reason I bought this pepper. That and the red coming off in this photo is supreme. I haven't tasted these yet, But I would bet they'll be one of my favorites this year.

Chocolate Beauty Pepper:  Chocolate?
That’s the only reason I bought this pepper. That and the red coming off in this photo is supreme. I haven’t tasted these yet, But I would bet they’ll be one of my favorites this year.

 

Red frying pepper. You know that whole, wait until August thing I talked about in my post earlier...this is the pepper that made me wait that long. They were delicious once they came in...but the wait...will not be happening again this year, that's for sure!

Marconi Red:  Frying pepper. You know that whole, wait until August thing I talked about in my post earlier…this is the pepper that made me wait that long. They were delicious once they came in…but the wait…will not be happening again this year, that’s for sure!

Prolific, sweet...these are the ones my kids want to eat raw with hummus.

Horizon Bell:  Prolific, sweet…these are the ones my kids want to eat raw with hummus.

Green to Red these are edible the whole way through. An awesome multi-purpose pepper. We use these for stuffed peppers.

Ozark Bell:  Green to Red these are edible the whole way through. An awesome multi-purpose pepper. We use these for stuffed peppers.

A small pepper, for those of you who want something sweet but maybe find yourself wasting a lot of peppers. These are also good grown in pots as the plants stay a pretty manageable size.

Belgian:  A small pepper, for those of you who want something sweet but maybe find yourself wasting a lot of peppers. These are also good grown in pots as the plants stay a pretty manageable size.

These are the other peppers my kids always want to eat. These ones almost never make it into the house. Also edible in the green stage.

Canary Bell:  These are the other peppers my kids always want to eat. These ones almost never make it into the house. Also edible in the green stage.

 

Hots!

A classic. Which, I'm glad it's a classic and everyone likes them because I grew two plants and had enough jalapenos to bring 50 stuffed to a party, and supply me and two other households with an unending supply of them, and I still had some going bad on the counter.  Also these are those "producing til December" kinds of peppers.

Early Jalapeno:  A classic. Which, I’m glad it’s a classic and everyone likes them because I grew two plants and had enough jalapenos to bring 50 stuffed to a party, and supply me and two other households with an unending supply of them, and I still had some going bad on the counter.
Also these are those “producing til December” kinds of peppers.

Haven't grown these yet, but I'm tired of buying chili powder. This will be the year I stop buying chili powder.

Ancho Poblano:  Haven’t grown these yet, but I’m tired of buying chili powder. This will be the year I stop buying chili powder.

Also a prolific little pepper. You wouldn't think a pepper that hot would be so prolific, because for me...what's the point of all that hot?? BUT-- if hot's your thing, for like, every meal ever...this is your pepper plant.

Magnum Habanero:  Also a prolific little pepper. You wouldn’t think a pepper that hot would be so prolific, because for me…what’s the point of all that hot?? BUT– if hot’s your thing, for like, every meal ever, this is your pepper plant.

A look at this years tomatoes…

This year I wasn’t as experimentative with the tomato selection, which is not to say what I’ve picked to share with you is boring….but maybe not as “selective.”  Last year I got a lot of weird looks for what I thought were the greatest tomatoes ever.

This year I got more of what people typically look for…big red slicing tomatoes, those little orange pops of sunshine, and regular red cherry…of course I still got the stripey ones and the intensely flavorful ones…afterall, what’s the point of heirloom tomatoes if you don’t try them all??

The first favorite type I bought is called Thessaloniki, it’s a big red slicing tomato, similar to beefsteak tomatoes – they’re big, red and juicy.

Thessaloniki: A big, red, juicy gal, and early, which means you’ll get to enjoy her before any other tomatoes come in.

 

Our next slicing tomato combines a bit of our standard favorites with just a hint of funky fun. Robinson’s German BiColor Tomato is one of those fruits that is just downright beautiful. I haven’t ever eaten one, but I couldn’t resist this picture from Baker Creek. I’ve reserved 4 of these babies for myself and my family…but mostly for myself. I’ve been looking forward to these since starting them in January. They’re a late type, but I started them early, giving us plenty of time to enjoy them through the season.

Mary Robinson's BiColor Tomato:  This large slicing tomato is more red than what's pictured, with striking yellow and pink tones throughout.

Mary Robinson’s BiColor: This large slicing tomato is more red than what’s pictured, with striking yellow and pink tones.

For middle-sized tomatoes we’ve got two kinds, Topaz and German Lunchbox.

The Topaz Tomato is yellow with golden and green flecks, sweet, low acidity and my kids eat them by the dozens right off the vines.

The German Lunchbox tomato is a little pink wonder. This tomato consistently produces right into November for me. They’re tasty when pink but you can leave them on the vine until they are a muted red…they are completely divine.

German-Lunchbox-Tomato-web

German Lunchbox: Early prolific tomato, perfectly sized for snacks and producing all the way to the first frost.

Topaz-or-Huan-U-Tomato-web

Topaz: Iridescent sheen, mild flavor and fun size makes this one popular with children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Black Cherry is a tomato-lovers tomato. How could I go one summer without sinking my teeth into this Queen of Tomatoes? This is another variety that produces right up until the first frost. Also, in my constant search for veggie varieties that don’t require a lot of water, this one fits the bill. Too much water and the skins split. This one likes a little neglect.

Black Cherry: All the flavor of a black tomato, in a two-bite package.

Black Cherry: All the flavor of a black tomato, in a two-bite package.

I also got a standard type Red Cherry Tomato called Riesentraube. Another German Variety (have you noticed a trend?) And like the other German varieties this tomato goes right up until frost. Clusters of red globes are what sets this tomato off from a standard red cherry, this plant is incredibly productive.

Reisentraube:  Abundant clusters of brilliant red cherry tomatoes

Reisentraube: Abundant clusters of brilliant red cherry tomatoes

 

This year we’re trying out an heirloom version of the celebrated Sungold tomato.  To the discerning tomato taster, our Sungold Select II is just a tad less sweet than the hybrid Sungolds you find in most markets but they still have that citrusy undertone.

Citrusy sweet Sungold Select tomatoes...the heirloom version of a national favorite.

Citrusy sweet Sungold Select tomatoes…the heirloom version of a national favorite.

 

We were also blessed to receive some tomato varieties like Yellow Peach, Myona Plum and Jersey Devil Plum. We’re not sure if they’ll be ready in time for a Mothers Day planting, but try us later in the year. We’ll update here if they become available, too.

Thanks for reading!

Ready for your Spring Garden?

March 17th is the planting date (in Zone 7a) for Broccoli, Collards, Kale, Red and Green Cabbage, Spinach, Orach, and Cauliflower.

With the exception of the Orach, all of these plants will need some sort of protection from Cabbage Worm, especially if you’ve planted Brassicas in your yard in previous years.

Cabbage Moth

Cabbage Moth

cabbage worm

Cabbage worm

My favorite way to keep the cabbage worms off the plants in my spring garden are to place netting around the plants.   I’m also experimenting by interplanting with tansy, which has an offensive smell to cabbage moth…I will let you know how that turns out 🙂

Below you’ll find some pictures and a description of the varieties we’re carrying this year. When you know what you want, send us a message either through the website form at the bottom of this page, through FB (www.facebook.com/thegreatfullgarden) or give me a good old fashioned phone call at 856-455-2294.
~jw~

Umpqua Broccoli

Umpqua Broccoli is a standard type Broccoli which has done well in my garden in South Jersey year after year.

Umpqua Broccoli is a standard type Broccoli which has done well in my garden in South Jersey year after year.  Seed sourced from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

 

Collard Greens

Easy to grow and delicious. My favorite way to use collards is as a wrap for your favorite sandwich fillings. They are also useable as completely compostable, renewable plates! Just place your meal on them and when you're done...eat it!

Easy to grow and delicious. My favorite way to use collards is as a wrap for your favorite sandwich fillings. They are also useable as completely compostable, renewable plates! Just place your meal on them and when you’re done…eat it!

 

Dinosaur Kale

This is our favorite kale. Originally marketed as a loose-leaf cabbage, this kale is easy to grow and even the kids love its mild taste.

This is our favorite kale. Originally marketed as a loose-leaf cabbage, this kale is easy to grow and even the kids love its mild taste.

 

Orach

This slow growing green isn't just green! Often used as a substitute for spinach, which tends to bolt at the first whisper of warm weather, Orach grows to 3 feet tall, withstands frost and doesn't bolt even in the summer heat.  Again, It's slow-growing, though, so buy more than 1 or use it as a colorful filler in your favorite lettuce-mix.

This slow growing green isn’t just green! Often used as a substitute for spinach, which tends to bolt at the first whisper of warm weather, Orach grows to 3 feet tall, withstands frost and doesn’t bolt even in the summer heat.

 

Giant Noble Spinach

Spinach is a hardy plant for winter and is perfect for unpredictable late winter weather. Keep it moist by adding sufficient mulch to your garden and that will also help protect against it bolting with the first warm spring days.

Spinach is a hardy plant for winter and is perfect for unpredictable late winter weather. Keep it moist by adding sufficient mulch to your garden and that will also help protect against it bolting with the first warm spring days.

 

Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage

Cabbage - Early Jersey Wakefield (Green)

A favorite, old heiroom cabbage. It’s an early variety that is ready about 65 days after transplant.

Red Rock Mammoth Cabbage

Another favorite cabbage with deep red leaves and small core.  Good for fresh eating and for coleslaw.

Another favorite cabbage with deep red leaves and small core. Good for fresh eating and for coleslaw.

Purple of Sicily Cauliflower

Look at these bright purple heads! This variety is delicious and beautiful. If purple isn't your thing then you can keep it white as it comes in by making sure the leaves don't open and expose the head to sunlight.  But I say let it turn purple!

Look at these bright purple heads! This variety is delicious and beautiful. If purple isn’t your thing then you can keep it white by making sure the leaves don’t open and expose the head to sunlight.
But I say let it turn purple!

Place your orders below…

And please keep in mind that these plants are by NO MEANS the only plants for an Early Spring Garden. These are just the ones I’ve spent the winter months tending to. If you like snow peas, radishes, carrots and beets too, get in touch and we can talk about making an early spring garden happen for you. 🙂

Evolution.

February 2009 I moved into my home.

I built the first things I had ever built, 6 square raised beds. There are nails sticking out of the ends and they are a little bit crooked because I didn’t brace the corners. But they’re still holding on. I keep them because they are a reminder.

6 years ago.

6 years ago all the trees surrounding my house were shorter and I was convinced that maximum sunlight and straight rows of tomatoes, beans and peppers were all I needed.

A friend brought over some asparagus crowns and started pulling my weeds.
I thanked her for both.

And after three years of organic gardening in the best way I knew how…my soil SUCKED. I mean really…it was visibly worse than when I had started. My little homestead in a rural city was supposed to be the model of sustainability and here I was, 3 years in and realizing this wasn’t sustainable at ALL.

I started talking about taking out trees, to my husbands dismay. Using up more land. Making the garden bigger and bigger. There were entire times of the year where my soil was bare, exposed to the elements with no mulch, nutrients just washing away.

The switch flipped when my cherry tree died of fusarium wilt.

The first year I could expect cherries, the blossoms came and shortly after they shriveled up and died. Then the whole tree started weeping, the leaves turned brown and in time, it was just a stick in the ground.

So I started looking up orchard maintenance. I read that successful orchards are seen when a great number of different weeds are thriving around the trees.

What is that? I was taught all my life that plants hate competition. They can’t stand each other. They need 1 foot here and 20 feet there and don’t let them mingle because production will go down!

I did more reading. More and more reading. The internet is a great place for someone on a mission to learn something new.

I learned the names of all the wildlfowers and the weeds.

I learned most of them were edible, some of them were medicinal.

I learned that the soil is alive, that tilling it was like taking a knife to skin.

Basically, I learned that I was doing it all wrong.

So what did I have to change?

I started spending more time walking around the garden than working in it. I often wondered what my neighbors thought of me, standing in my yard, staring at one corner, then another. Taking three steps, looking down for ten minutes. Picking up a tool and not using it, continuing to JUST LOOK.

I started dragging peoples cut down trees home, and burying logs in the ground.

Then I learned about Hugelkultur.

I started wondering why my garden looked so bare in winter.

Then I learned that perennials will literally save the Earth because of their ability to trap carbon.

I planted my usual annuals and silently wished they could be as water independent as the dandelion.

I started eating dandelions.

For the last three years I’ve just let the garden grow. Of course I’m still planting things. I’m planting with GUSTO. Planting things everywhere!

But I’m doing a lot less pulling. A lot less yanking, sawing, trampling and no, I mean NO Tilling. My soil looks awesome, the garden is productive, I’m working less and reaping more. I’ve added chickens. This year I’ll be adding bees. I hope to one day add a pond for keeping fish.

My life is full of abundance. It always was I just had to learn how to see it.

First I learned how to work. Then I learned how to see. Then I learned how to be grateful.

And that’s how the Great Full Garden came to be.

Cleavers, nutsedge, morning glory, celery, rosemary and more...because life isn't about rows and rows of the same thing.

Cleavers, nutsedge, morning glory, celery, rosemary and more…because life isn’t about rows and rows of the same thing.

Nutsedge

WHAT is this grass growing all over my yard? I pull it out, it comes back. Over and over all season long. A friend told me her husband calls it coffee grass, and that got me intrigued. A way to get a coffee flavor, locally, in abundance? I’m in!!

So the research began.

Nutsedge. It’s not native and it’s earliest recorded usage was in Ancient Egypt. The 1/2 inch sized tubers are delicious, can be used as a sweetener or a flour, or added to soups and stews. It has another common name, Chufa, and in Spain it is mixed with water, sugar and cinnamon.  It is a common nut milk for people avoiding dairy.

And what about the coffee?? Well it’s not the tubers, but the roots. Roasting the roots, apparently, gives them a coffee-like flavor.

With this info in hand the kids and I set out in the yard “looking” for Nutsedge. There’s no real looking involved, it’s everywhere! We each dug up a clump and each found 1 nut. (How exciting!) We tried them and they were tasty!! I even tasted a root, to see if it could maybe, at some point, taste like coffee, but it didn’t taste like much.

We went to pull more and didn’t find ANY. Turns out harvest time is more like late summer into autumn. Still, I’m grateful that we found those lucky three.

My plan now is to stop pulling up the Nutsedge and Geoff has agreed to avoid mowing this one little patch. As an experiment. It’ll spread. Nearly every website I came across was about controlling this invasive, exotic plant. Invasive exotic? That doesn’t sound like me! But since the tubers are the primary way Nutsedge propagates itself I have a feeling this is a win-win situation. 🙂

So that’s one less weed in the garden, and one more thing to look forward to.
Good Stuff.

Some info I collected:
http://www.extension.org/pages/65211/yellow-nutsedge-cyperus-esculentus-in-greater-depth#.U6WZnHVdWhM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horchata
http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/nutsedge-edible-zb0z11zsie.aspx
http://threeissues.sdsu.edu/three_issues_coquillofacts02.html
http://dianabuja.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/nutsedge-perhaps-the-oldest-managed-weed-in-predynastic-egypt/

It’s been a long, productive spring..

It’s the summer solstice, a time where we can really start the look forward to harvest. Despite a slow start to the year, my corn is tall and luscious, the tomatoes, potatoes and string beans are flowering, the blueberries are all starting to blush.

Business has been growing too and as so many of my clients begin to look forward to their first harvests I can be satisfied in heart and belly.

Thank you for growing with me this year.

A vehicle that’s not afraid of some dirt.

I’ve got a Camry. It’s my family car. My family is not very happy with the amount of dirt in it, hahaha.

My goal is to get a vehicle that can hold my tools, the occassional raised bed AND of course, some serious dirt, compost and manure.

I’ve got a minivan picked out, but I’m only about 1/3rd of the way through my fundraising goal to pay for it completely.

Will you donate today?

When you support The Great Full Garden, you support a small, woman-owned business that strives to create food security and sustainability. Organic methods, permaculture methods, seed integriy (NO GMOS!) and food justice are just some of the issues on my agenda.

Oh…and lots of pretty (edible) flowers too!

Donate today!

The Great Full Garden on GOFUNDME!

A day that might feel like spring…

Today is a good spring day. Not like we had last week. Today is a day that someone might actually see themselves strapping on their boots, grabbing their gloves and heading out to the garden.

And thank goodness because really…we were all getting sick of winter!

There is still time to plan and install your summer garden. Contact me for a free, initial consultation.

Happy Gardening 🙂

Plants for Sale

I have a limited number of plants for sale.  The variety isn’t limited, but the space I have certainly is so make sure to get your order in! These are grown using organic methods and heirloom seed. As of March 22 I have tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, kale, nigella, shepherd’s purse, marjoram, lavender, rue, eggplant and so much more!

Check out my list, if you see something you like, contact me!

All plants are $3 for an individual 4″ pot or $5 for a 6-pack of starter plants. 6-packs can be mixed and matched by type. So, tomatoes can mixed and matched, summer squashes, types of peppers. As long as they are the same kind of veggie you can mix the varieties.

Happy Gardening 🙂
Plant List 2014

Spring is here! And so is my website.

And just like spring, this website seems to be a little slow in coming. Please be patient. I’ll have more info soon 🙂