edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
red bell pepper with a human hand for scale



Tiny gardening update! Here is the Lazarus pepper, which I am going to pick later this week and stir-fry with some onions, because reasons. :)

(Regular gardening updates are probably not resuming at this time, sorry. I have been having brain glitch issues.)


[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I am too tired to do the full-on crossposting thing with embedded images tonight. So tonight I will just copypaste the text; you can click the links to see the photos on Tumblr if you want. (And maybe tomorrow I will fix the images. *sigh*)

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Part 1: Squash

So I think my squash have been struck by some kind of disease/parasite? Anyway, the leaves with the white blotches have gone sickly and yellow, even though I sprayed lightly with my three-in-one miticide/pesticide/fungicide gloop. I should probably research squash ailments to see if there's anything I should be doing to help them out.

Despite that, the central cores of the plants are all doing well. Tan began to bloom on Tuesday, August 1, having finally regenerated its central stem from the squirrel depredations a few weeks back. And I think I'll pick Covera's squash Wednesday or Thursday. I'm not sure what to do with it, though; I am kind of out of interesting cooking ideas.

Maybe I should give it to Susan as an additional birthday present this weekend...? ;)

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Part 2: Peppers

In summary, they are all doing well, the injured ones continue to recover nicely, most of the non-injured ones have buds, two are flowering, and one has begun to fruit. Yay!

(Click on the photos for more details in the captions.)

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Part 3: the Lazarus pepper

*shakes tiny fist of annoyance at Tumblr’s ten-image limit on posts*

So the Lazarus pepper also exists and also continues to flourish. I think judicious applications of MiracleGro plus weekly applications of eggshells (look, I eat a lot of hardboiled eggs; it would be silly not to do something useful with the shells) have gotten it past the yellow leaves and squashy fruit thing it was doing a few weeks ago. Its leaves are now nicely green and the big pepper is both growing and reassuringly firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, the Lazarus pepper's other branch has sprouted several buds, one of which not only flowered but fell off (rainstorm, what can you do?) leaving behind the tiniest pepper. I mean, it is probably going to shrivel up and detach from the stem because it makes more reproductive sense for the plant to focus on the bigger fruit that's already well-established than to split its resources, but you never know. It might hang on! *crosses fingers, just a little bit*
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
chicken and vegetables on rice, topped with lemon yogurt, with a bottle of hard cider to the left



Tonight I attempted to reconstruct one of the Blue Apron recipes -- the Persian-style chicken with rice -- to... moderate success? It tastes all right, though I think I know some things that would make it better if I try again later this year.

Anyway, I wanted to try this both as a way to use the first two summer squash from my porch garden, and as an experiment to see if I even could approximate the recipe. So I bought some turmeric and cardamom, acquired some dried currants and some roasted almonds, and kind of winged it.

I cut out some of the fancy steps -- zesting an actual lemon to make the lemon yogurt topping, baking some of the rice -- because I don't like baked rice to start with and there is a reason I bought a small bottle of lemon juice concentrate a while back: namely, "I don't have the time or patience to deal with freaking lemons when all I need is some lemon juice." I roughly doubled the quantities of onion and squash (and of course substituted yellow squash for zucchini), and both substituted chicken thighs for chicken breasts and increased the quantity of meat, though not as much as I increased the vegetables. Also I used plain medium-grain white rice instead of jasmine rice, because that's what I had on hand.

I completely guessed on the proportions and amounts of the spices to use for coating the chicken, but I think I came pretty close. (Mostly I went by the smell and color of the blend.) I think if I were doing this again, I'd use slightly less onion (proportionately) and also use six chicken thighs instead of just four -- the vegetables ended up drowning out the chicken a bit, which is not terrible from a nutritional standpoint but does affect the overall flavor. I also had to add spices to the veggies as they cooked, twice, because there wasn't enough spice gloop left over in the pan when the chicken was done cooking. While that definitely helped, I think that A) more chicken and B) even more spice would have been better.

All flavor issues aside, I wound up with SO MUCH of the chicken-veggie mix. SO MUCH. I will be eating it for a WEEK. (This is not a bad thing!) One cup of rice only got me maybe three to three-and-a-half portions there, but rice shouldn't be kept indefinitely as leftovers to start with, not to mention that it's a lot easier to make a new batch of rice (plus currants soaked in lemon juice) than it is to make the chicken-veggie mix, so I am okay with that wild mismatch.


[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Three of my squash plants have produced/are producing actualfax squash. This is very exciting! (I suspect I will feel differently later in the summer, since I am already starting to have "oh no, I need to think of something to cook with all of them..." forebodings, but for right now let me revel in the squee, yeah?)

Tan is not fruiting since, as mentioned in my last gardening post, its central stem was destroyed by squirrels before it could set and open more than three or four flowers, and it's currently engaged in regrowing that.


one pale yellow summer squash with a human hand for size reference

1. Sethera - Friday, 21 July 2017


two more images under the cut )


Meanwhile, the Lazarus pepper is not only continuing to grow a very nice bell pepper fruit, its other branch is working up toward flowers. And pepper F1 (of my eighteen grown-new-this-year plants) looks ready to open a bud within the next few days -- a few of the other new peppers are also growing buds, but they're all much smaller and nowhere near ready to open.


one green bell pepper with a human hand for size reference . buds on a pepper plant

4. the Lazarus pepper
5. the Lazarus pepper - new buds!


one more image under the cut )


And now I am going to go mix more eggshells into all the plants' soil, because judging by the growth rate on those squash, they are going to NEED calcium pretty soon. :)

---------------

So today I picked my first two squash. I probably could have let them go another day or two, but whatever. Squash! :D

(I have a plan, but it requires cardamom. I must remember to track some down today or tomorrow...)

two yellow summer squash on a stove with human hand for size reference

7. Sethera and Azer's first squash, ready to cook when I get my act together in a day or two :)


[[original Tumblr post (plants) for when the embedded images inevitably break ; original Tumblr post (squash) for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Basically, aside from the continuing problem of marauding squirrels and their tendency to chomp everything because they forget they hate the taste of peppers, everything is going very well.


six pepper plants in black plastic planters . six pepper plants in planters and pots

1. peppers A2, A4, A6, B1, B3, and B5 - Monday, 17 July 2017
2. peppers C2, C4, C6, D1, D3, and D5


four more images under the cut )


pepper fruit on a pepper plant, with human fingers for scale

7. the Lazarus pepper


The majority of the peppers are now tall enough that I have wrapped the loops at the top of their stakes around their central stems. A few of those plants have even developed visible buds!

I now have three peppers running a few weeks behind the others, though: A2, which just got munched a couple days ago; B5, which got munched a few weeks ago; and E6 which had the fungal problem and might need a repeat dose of fungicide around its roots. C6 and D1 are also running behind, though less drastically. That is because they nearly drowned while I was away on vacation and left their planter a crucial two inches too close to the gutter waterfall, and it's hard to grow properly when your soil has turned into a non-Newtonian fluid. (Don't worry! I dried them out, gave them some replacement soil and a good dose of fertilizer to replace lost nutrients, and they are doing fine now.)

The Lazarus pepper's fruit is growing nicely! It does feel a little bit softer/squishier than I would ideally like, but I plan to give all the plants EVEN MORE EGGSHELLS later this week, which should help. Its leaves are likewise still a bit yellower than I would ideally like, but less so that a few weeks ago. Also -- and I am not sure how evident this is in my photographs -- the Lazarus pepper doesn't really have a central stem; it splits into two 'branches' about six inches up from its roots. And while the other flowers on the branch with the single extant fruit have come to nothing, the OTHER branch is now in the process of developing buds, so! We shall see what happens. :D

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In summary: all my squash are blooming!


one squash plant, top view, with wilted flowers

8. Tan - Monday, 17 July 2017


six more images under the cut )


Okay, more details. :) As you can see, Tan got hollowed out a bit -- probably by those continued menaces otherwise known as squirrels. (I am frankly impressed; squash stems and leaves are prickly once they get past the very tiny baby phase.) The utterly shredded leaf, however, fell victim to the gutter waterfall before I noticed the mauling and ran outside to move it about six inches to the left. (I got thoroughly soaked in the process, despite using an umbrella. It rained buckets last Thursday.) Anyway, the plant is attempting to regrow its central stem and leaves, and probably won't attempt to fruit until it gets further on that basic project.

Sethera continues to be stable in its little pen of plastic trellises, and in fact has started to grow an actualfax squash! Yay! So far this one doesn't seem afflicted with the blossom end rot that did in Azer's first attempt at fruiting, but as mentioned in the pepper update post, I am going to be dosing all plants with more eggshells later this week just on general principle.

In fact, Azer and Covera are each ALSO attempting a tiny actualfax squash -- Covera's is by far the smaller, but you can kind of see it in the top view photo, whereas Azer's hid so well I didn't notice it until Tuesday morning and consequently have no good picture of it.

The squash blossoms are HIGHLY attractive to insects -- particularly something that is either a type of solitary bee, or a fly that's wearing a pretty good bee disguise. They also attract spiders, presumably as a secondary consequence of attracting insects. The flowers are quite ephemeral and bloom for one day at most, often only part of a day, before furling back up and starting to wilt.

And that is that for this week. :)


[[original Tumblr post (peppers) for when the embedded images inevitably break ; original Tumblr post (squash) for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I am just going to skip last week entirely. Please forgive me.

I am also not going to crosspost the photos tonight, because I am very tired. Please follow the links to view the pictures on Tumblr. (I may edit the photos in tomorrow. Or maybe not. We'll see how I feel.)

ETA, 7/12/17: Pictures are now embedded. :)

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six pepper plants in black plastic planters . six pepper plants in planters and pots

1. peppers A2, A4, A6, B1, B3, and B5 - Monday, 10 July 2017
2. peppers C2, C4, C6, D1, D3, and D5


four more images under the cut )


Anyway, all the peppers are doing fine! B5 continues to recover nicely from its brutal munching, and while E6 remains much smaller than its compatriots, I think the thorough application of fungicide got rid of whatever was stunting its growth. (Hint: I am pretty sure it was fusarium wilt, which is what nearly did in the Lazarus pepper last year.) C6 and D1 are likewise recovering from their near brush with drowning while I was on vacation in the last week of June, and I have added a bunch of extra soil to their planter to help shore them up.

Meanwhile the Lazarus pepper's tiny fruit has become slightly less tiny! As of yesterday, it was about the size of my distal thumb joint rather than just my thumbnail. Progress!

I applied some MiracleGro to all the plants last week, and on Monday I added a new batch of crushed eggshells to their soil, which should hopefully break down and supply calcium over the next couple months.

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one squash plant, top view, with orange flowers

7. Tan - Monday, 10 July 2017


six more images under the cut )


Three of my squash have now started blooming -- I guess Tan's general age has trumped its somewhat precarious history, and it has therefore bloomed before Covera even though the latter plant has a much more stable foundation.

And speaking of stable foundations... Sethera became dangerously top-heavy last week and started flopping over, so I have propped it up with three small plastic lattices (plus several handfuls of additional potting soil packed around its base). So far this rather makeshift solution seems to be working, since last night's heavy rains did not tip the plant over again.

On the less bright side, Azer appeared to be developing an actual squash... but as of Tuesday evening (July 11), the tiny growth has started to rot/wilt. I believe this is known as blossom end rot, and the main treatments are to water evenly, to make sure the soil pH is between 6.0 and 6.5 (I guess I need to acquire a method to check that?), and most importantly to add calcium.

Eggshells will help on the calcium front, but they are a slow-release form of calcium and I think something a bit faster-acting may be called for. So I guess I need to acquire either gypsum or some kind of calcium spray. *sigh*


[[original Tumblr post (peppers) for when the embedded images inevitably break ; original Tumblr post (squash) for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I don't feel like embedding twenty-four images, so I'm just going to copypaste the text and the links. Click on the links to access the Tumblr posts, and then click on the images to see larger versions with captions.

Okay? Good. Here goes.

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Gardening update: Friday, 30 June 2017

I took photos of my plants on Wednesday the 21st, before I left on vacation, and I photographed them again today (Friday the 30th). As you can see, they grew a lot!

All four of my squashes seem to be flourishing. A few leaves have been nibbled, and their tubs were full of mulberries and mulberry seedlings, but I spritzed them lightly with insecticide (most of which then washed off in afternoon rainstorms...) and removed the mulberry intrusions with extreme prejudice.

I still think I will eventually have to reposition the tubs so the squash don't overrun the peppers, but they should be okay for another few days at least.

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Gardening update, part 2

And then some ASSHOLE came along and ATE my baby pepper.

*frowns repressively at local squirrel population*

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Gardening update, part 3

Generally speaking, the baby peppers are doing well. The ones with crinkly leaves (which I blame on chemical sensitivity, mostly) are still crinkly, but growing, so I am still pretty sure they'll get past that and put forth less weird leaves in future.

Pepper B5, which was savagely beheaded a while back, continues to recover. It has grown one leaf of reasonable size (though somewhat peculiar shape), and is now attempting a second.

Pepper E6, on the other hand, has not grown much at all, and frankly I'm starting to wonder if it might be this year's Lazarus pepper -- i.e., afflicted with fusarium wilt. Anyway, I sprayed fungicide around its roots, and hopefully that will help.

Peppers C6 and D1 were apparently just a little too close to the artificial waterfall that pours down from the gutter right over my kitchen window, as their planter's soil is drenched. I nudged the planter a couple inches southward, and am considering putting some kind of cover over the dirt tomorrow morning since there's a lot of rain predicted for Saturday.

And I think that's everything for now. :)

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---------------

Gardening update: Sunday, 2 July 2017

I rearranged everything today, because the squash were getting large enough to overshadow the nearby peppers and I would kind of like the peppers not to die. *wry* I will probably leave Sethera, Azer, and Covera roughly where they are, but Tan (the smallest squash, in the foreground) still lacks a permanent home.

(I know where you probably think I should put it, based on this photo. And I would do that, except the logical position -- to the right of Sethera and in front of Covera -- is exactly where the gutter waterfall crashes down and I have no interest in smashing and/or drowning my plants.)

The other development of note is that SETHERA IS BLOOMING!!! :DDD Squash flowers are so pretty, and soon I will have actual summer squash to pick and chop and store in the freezer... and probably also foist off on unsuspecting neighbors and members of my church, as one does. But right now I am mostly at the YAY FLOWERS!!! stage, which is a very pleasant stage indeed. :DDD
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six pepper seedlings in black plastic planters . five pepper seedlings in plastic planters and pots

1. peppers A2, A4, A6, B1, B3, and B5 - Monday, 19 June 2017
2. peppers C2, C4, C6, D1, and D3


three images under the cut )


As you can see, I have rearranged my peppers. Actually I had them rearranged for a while -- not in this exact configuration, which I adopted a couple days ago because I wanted to space out the squash planters a little -- but differently from the groups-of-six I was using for photos. This is because Landlord Dude has yet to fix the damn gutter on the back of the house, and consequently any rain harder than a drizzle (or that lasts longer than half an hour) turns the gutter into a waterfall that happens to be right over one of my kitchen windows/my back porch. So I make sure none of my poor plants are right under the cascade, because they are small and tender and do not deserve to be punched repeatedly in the metaphorical face. *wry*

As you can also see, I have staked sixteen of the peppers. I did not stake E6 because it's growing noticeably slower than the others, but I think I will do so Wednesday evening because I will be leaving on vacation Thursday morning and I am quite sure it will need a stake before I get home a week later. I also didn't stake B5 because the poor dear is only just beginning to recover from its savage beheading -- it is growing a new leaf! Life finds a way!

Pepper D5 has something wrong with its leaves. I suspect it may have caught some residue from the fungicide/insecticide I sprayed on the Lazarus pepper a couple weeks ago, but the newest tiny leave seem on track to be normal rather than crumpled, so I trust it will do all right in the long run.


two images under the cut )


tiny green bell pepper on a pepper plant

8. the Lazarus pepper - Monday, 19 June 2017 (OMG AN ACTUALFAX PEPPER!!!)


And last but not least, the Lazarus pepper bloomed! The first bud opened on Wednesday, and as of today that first flower has lost its petals (heavy rain, what can you do?) to reveal an ACTUALFAX PEPPER. It is so tiny. And so cute. :DDD

I continue to fight a rearguard action against the evils of the white mulberry tree. You have no idea how many berries I have to sweep off the porch every day, or pick out of the pots and planters, to say nothing of the infinite mulberry seedlings I have to uproot and toss away.

(If you haven't realized by now? I hate mulberry trees. I mean, they are probably lovely trees in an orchard, or out in the woods where they can do their own thing without bothering anyone, but trust me, you do NOT want them in your yard. Not in a million years. They are a MENACE.

Also they attract squirrels, but that is a separate problem.)


four images under the cut )


Meanwhile, unidentified marauders (*cough* squirrels *cough*) tried to uproot Tan and/or shred its stem again, but so far as I can tell the leaves retain enough connection to the root system to stay alive. Also I have buried the long, floppy part of the stem under even more potting soil -- I did the same for Sethera while I was at it -- and have tried to prop up the vertical parts of the plants such that they have proper support and won't tip over under their own weight as the grow.

Azer and Covera, of course, do not suffer from this problem as they never went through a floppy phase of growing sideways in search of the sun, and are both growing great guns. I am fairly sure their mutual end goal is to devour my porch. Sethera and Tan probably share this ambition, though they are not quite as well-placed to follow through on it. *wry*

I have spaced out the four planters a little bit, but I am beginning to think that I may have to move one or two of them off the porch entirely. I am not sure where else they could go. Down in the yard among the raspberry canes? (Which survived last year's drought and have put up slightly alarming amounts of new growth; I think they want to devour my porch as well, though from below rather than from above.) In the front yard behind the shelter of the hedge? In the driveway beside the trash cans?

I will have to consider this before they get too big to move...


[[original Tumblr post (peppers), for when the embedded images inevitably break ; original Tumblr post (squash), for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
chicken and vegetables on rice, topped with lemon yogurt, with a bottle of hard cider to the right


I finally made the third Blue Apron dinner tonight, so.

What Blue Apron assumes you have: stove, oven, cutting board, knife, small cooking pot with a functional lid, pan of reasonable size, a zester, several bowls and plates, measuring spoons, measuring cup, a whisk, a baking tray, a cooling rack, olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

What Blue Apron provides: chicken (pre-cut!!!), 1 zucchini, 1 onion, 1 lemon, some parsley, a small packet of whole almonds, a small container of currants, a pat of salted butter, a packet of spice mix (cardamom, cumin, and turmeric), 1/2 cup jasmine rice, and 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt.

The recipe is as follows:

1. Cut onion into thin slices
2. Cut zucchini into quarters (lengthwise) and then into slices
3. Chop parsley and almonds (they can go into the same dish)
4. Zest lemon, then cut into quarters
5. Dump currants into a bowl and squeeze two lemon quarters over them so they can soak in lemon juice for a while

At some point in here, start the rice (the exact time will depend on how efficient you are at cutting and zesting):

1. Dump 1 cup water, the rice packet, and some salt into a small cooking pot
2. Bring to a boil
3. Cover and reduce heat to low
4. Cook ~13 minutes, or until all water is absorbed
5. Transfer ~half the rice to a baking tray and spread into an even layer
6. Set the rest aside in a warm place (I suggest removing it from the pot to avoid sticking)

At some point in the rice-cooking process, you will want to start pre-heating the oven to 475F.

While the rice is cooking, you can start the chicken:

1. Rinse and dry the chicken.
2. In a bowl, mix spice packet, salt, and black pepper
3. Dump the chicken in and mess it around until fully coated
4. Heat olive oil in a pan
5. Add chicken, cook on medium-high for ~7 minutes
6. Put chicken in a dish and set aside in a warm place

At this point you start the vegetables:

1. DO NOT CLEAN THE PAN; YOU WANT THE SPICE AND OIL AND CHICKEN GUNK
2. Add the onion and cook ~7 minutes
3. Once onion is soft, add the zucchini and cook ~7 minutes
4. Once zucchini is cooked, add the parsley, almonds, and chicken
5. Cook 1-2 minutes to mix flavors
6. You can add salt and pepper to taste at any point in this process

While the vegetables are cooking:

1. Drizzle olive oil over the baking tray
2. Bake the rice for ~8 minutes, stirring halfway through
3. Theoretically it should turn lightly brown and crispy
(NOTE: I did not cook the rice this long, because noticeably crunchy rice is kind of texturally gross to me)
4. Set aside to cool for 2-3 minutes
5. Mix into normal rice
6. Add the currants and lemon juice, mix thoroughly

Also while the vegetables are cooking:

1. Mix yogurt, lemon zest, and 1 tsp water in a bowl
2. Squeeze the remaining two lemon quarters into the mixture
3. Whisk everything together
4. Add salt and pepper if you want (I don't think it needs any)

Then you put the rice on a plate, dump some of the chicken and vegetable mix over it, and top everything with a blob of the lemon yogurt. The rice makes two portions, but the chicken-veggie mix makes three, so I guess I will be making some rice (and squirting it with lemon juice?) on Sunday night to go along with the third portion.

I was a little skeptical of the lemon yogurt, both as a general concept and as an accompaniment to this dish in particular, but trust me, you WANT to make and use it. It really pulls the whole meal together!

Also, this time the super-dry hard cider was the correct beverage choice. ;)


[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Over the past week, my plants have suffered depredations from passing animals. (Probably squirrels.) They bit the stem and leaves off poor pepper B5, knocked over pepper B3, and made a serious gash on Tan's exposed stem.


six pepper seedlings in black plastic planters . six pepper seedlings in black plastic planters

1. peppers A2, A4, A6, B1, B3, and B5 - Monday, 12 June 2017
2. peppers C2, C4, C6, D1, D3, and D5


six images under the cut )


All the plants in question are still alive (though I don't know if B5 will recover and put forth new leaves), but I think sometime this coming week I will tie all the peppers to stakes -- not because they're especially floppy, but because stakes discourage squirrels from squishing them while they're still tiny and tender. I also want to make sure that all of Tan and Sethera's horizontal and non-prickly stem sections are covered by soil to protect them from casual bites.


one pepper plant in a terracotta pot

9. the Lazarus pepper


Meanwhile the Lazarus pepper continues to look somewhat undernourished, so I gave it some more fertilizer this morning. I expect it to start flowering over the next week or two.

And that is pretty much that. (Well. Aside from the infernal mulberry sprouts. But my war with the white mulberry tree that grows bang up against my porch railing is a long and tedious tale, which I will summarize by saying that if you are thinking of planting a mulberry anywhere near a building or a patch of ground you want to use as a garden? DON'T.)


[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]

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Elizabeth Culmer

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