I’ve intentionally not blogged about the garden here at Alysheba Estates because I have not intentionally made a fall plot. I have neglected to plant a fall garden. I could make excuses and say life catches up with a fellow and weekends get overtaken by more important matters – gardens have a way of diminishing in importance, even new ones begun with vigor and enthusiasm. But I intentionally left the vigorous plants I started with on purpose. What I started in the spring is, by default, my fall garden. No apologies!

But now I post regarding my fall crop. Indeed, the jungle that was my summer my garden refuses to succumb to fall weather. It is November 6th in Texas – blistering cold for other places – but several nice weeks of moderately warm weather have produced a bumper crop of peppers. At the beginning of September I hacked down the Okra and pulled out the cowpeas. But the resilient okra roots are determined to grow, and now I have a crop of okra, should I want it. The cowpeas returned – from bare dirt to a reasonable crop – in less than two months. I now have a family sized helping of fresh Ozark Razorback cowpeas in the garden. Peppers of all kinds keep producing, so much that I have more hot sauce ferments than I can keep up with. I roasted some purple bell peppers from the garden just the other day.

But the next week is forecast to be cold. Very cold for our parts. Flannel shirt cold. So I went out today and picked some Shishitos and had some for lunch. And probably for the last time this year. Yum.

IMG_000249
Shishitos for lunch – last time this year. Yum!

As usual, I picked a bunch of peppers from the three Shishito plants and pan-seared them in some olive oil and Himalayan salt. The plants are still heavy-laden with peppers, I left many  on the bush. This is a plant that can serve to fill a menu well into the winter months in Zone 9. I strongly suggest Shishitos for side-dish peppers. I will likely not see many more, as the cold weather will soon be on us, but for now, my peppers make me smile:

IMG_000250
Cooked Shishito peppers make a nice lunch.

Wandering about my garden this afternoon revealed some November tomatoes too. I have hundreds of blossoms on my nine Roma plants, but I do not expect to get much fruit considering the cold snap heading our way. Still, it was a joy to see a ripe Roma today, and that inspires me to search carefully through the Roma jungle. There are very few things in life better than a fresh pomodoro sauce over pasta – imagine such a delight in November! I did not chop the Romas down in early September, though I removed the Cor di Bue and the Brandywines. The Brandywines are setting blossoms, but lets be realistic, it is November, I expect no fruit from these plants.

November Romas
November Romas

I chopped down my cowpeas at the beginning of August, having a nice bunch put away for winter in the freezer. But it looks like I can eat fresh cowpeas in November if I harvest green pods now. What a great bean! Cowpeas need to be part of any sustenance plan. If you need food for the latter half of the year, the lowly cowpea is the answer. I did not plant this current crop, instead, this crop ‘came up volunteer.’ It  was seeded from my violent removal of the summer vines. Yet now I have a full garden of cowpeas again! This is a no-thought crop tat is protein and nutrient rich.

Cowpeas maturing for an early winter crop.
Cowpeas maturing for an early winter crop.

Overall, I am really wowed by the persistence of spring and summer crops into the winter here in Zone 9. In my area, winter usually creeps up on us with a few teaser “cool fronts” and then hits us hard with a brief but intense winter. For this year, I am really amazed to have a possible spring crops all the way into November. I might add, my bug repellent crops are at their best now too. Check out these Marigolds:

Winter marigolds help keep bad bugs at bay.
Winter marigolds help keep bad bugs at bay.

One other note – Tabasco peppers ripen well into November if you have some healthy plants. I have been harvesting Tabascos and Thai Chili Peppers for the entire summer. Many of my ripe Tabasco peppers have been spoiling before I could do anything with them, in fact I had a pound and a half spoil in the fridge as I was attempting to gather up two pounds for a recipe. Lesson learned – freeze them! But nevertheless, what a prolific plant! Check out this great harvest:

Tabasco peppers galore!
Tabasco peppers galore!

If the winter cold snap halts the ripening process, I will pick the green ones and make Tabasco vinegar sauce. If they continue to ripen, I will make a fermented Tabasco sauce. This late season unknown factor is directly attributed to my late start in the spring. But what a dilemma! I am a happy gardener.

See you in the late winter!

Advertisements