Friday, October 28, 2011

Summer Garden

Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons [1]) are encouraged to be as self-sufficient as possible. This is broken down into an unofficial hierarchy where the individual should try to provide for their own needs (and the needs of spouse and children) as much as possible. When their own efforts are insufficient they should turn to friends and family for help. Only when those resources have been exhausted should they seek financial help from the Church.[2] One of the things that many LDS families do to be self-sufficient is to grow a garden. Since Leann and I were married we've had a garden every summer.[3]

This year Leann planted several tomatoes, a cherry tomato, green onions, and a zucchini. She also has a raspberry that she started last year. I planted Poblano peppers, Anaheim peppers, and Pequín peppers. I also had an artichoke that I received from Dr. Wilson, who is a professor in my department at BYU. In exchange I gave him a few Poblano pepper seedlings.

Through the middle of the summer things were coming along nicely—even after Lilli made her surprise appearance.[4]

But after she came home [5], the garden slowly fell into neglect and got wild looking.

The most prolific producer was the zucchini. We gave it away and still couldn't keep up. And the plant grew so fast that I had to repeatedly prop it up so it wouldn't smash my pepper plants.

Several times Dr. Wilson asked me how our artichoke was doing and I always had to tell him that we hadn't noticed any buds.[6] Then one day, while I was watering, I lifted up a branch of the raspberry and to my astonishment there was a bud! Alas, while we were waiting for it to get big enough to harvest, it suddenly flowered. If it looks like a thistle to you, that's because artichokes are thistles.[7] The green onions have produced quite consistently for us.

I fully expected growing chile peppers to be an exercise in futility. I have tried several times to grow Pequín peppers from seed, but always kill them at the seedling stage. This year I also tried growing the Poblano peppers and Anaheim peppers from seed. As in years past, I successfully germinated the seeds. But I was delightfully surprised when they survived being transplanted into the garden. So, for the first year ever, I got fruit from my Pequín pepper plants. Since they were just starting to produce went the frost loomed, I transplanted them and brought them inside.[8] I've only ever had Pequín peppers [9] as a side with scrambled eggs. And three of these little guys (they're smaller than your thumbnail) was enough—even when I'd built up an immunity during my years as an LDS missionary in México.[10]

My next point of concern was how large the plants grew. Usually a large pepper plant means less fruit and smaller fruit—and the Poblano pepper plants were nearly as tall as I am! At least as far as the Poblano peppers were concerned, it did result in smaller fruit. Poblano peppers (often incorrectly sold in the U.S. as Pasilla peppers) are good for making stuffed peppers. I also like to put them in migajas.[11]

I'm not really sure why I grew Anaheim peppers. The only thing I use them for is making pozole [12], and then I need dried peppers, not fresh ones. And these suckers produced a lot of fruit. So I'm going to have to get creative so I can consume them all.

The raspberry canes treated us very well this year. The tomatoes produced a lot of fruit for us, too, but there were still a lot of green tomatoes on the plants when the frost hit. (The picture above represents the final harvest the night before the freeze.) We briefly considered trying a fried green tomatoes recipe, but fried foods wreak havoc on Leann, so we refrained.


[1] To learn more about the Latter-day Saint faith, I suggest you visit here and here.

[2] Public assistance, including charitable institutions and government programs, fit in there somewhere, too.

[3] And it wouldn't be possible without the assistance of my parents. In our first apartment we had our garden in a pair of grow boxes my dad built for us and filled with compost. In our new apartment he and my brother-in-law, Mike, turned over the soil in a narrow strip behind the complex so we could plant there.

[4] See my post Unexpected Delivery.

[5] See my post Week Seven.

[6] He killed his Poblano peppers right off the bat, so I didn't feel too bad when he would inform me that his artichokes were producing.

[7] How anyone decided that the little bits of flesh at the bottoms of spiny thistle bud bracts might be edible when cooked is beyond me.

[8] They can make a nice ornamental plant (e.g. see the one at the Wikipedia article). But lets face it: it's only a matter of time until Lillian will be big enough to reach one of these little guys and eat it. Then I'll be in a little bit of trouble. And the pepper plant will probably be gone before I have a chance to intervene.

[9] Actually, the peppers I had in México were spherical, so I suspect that they were actually Tepín peppers and that they were incorrectly identified to me as Pequín. See Next year I'll try to grow some Tepíns.

[10] For those who are unsure why Latter-day Saints (Mormons) go on missions, I recommend you visit here and here, where you can learn more about LDS beliefs concerning sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you have more questions, ask and maybe I'll do a full post on the topic.

[11] Try my migajas recipe, available here.

[12] Try my pozole recipe, available here.

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