Posts tagged ‘peppers’
Our Italian Corno di Toro sweet peppers are ripening on the bush, growing tastier by the day. I harvested one to see how it tasted, but will leave the rest until they are red and yellow because they will be sweeter. Some good summer heat should be just what they need
Tomatoes and chiles are late bloomer in Santa Cruz, because of the fog and coastal coolness. Our first tomatoes are ripening on the vine right now, and the sweet Italian peppers are thinking about flowering, but still waiting for a warmer day.
For plants that are not well suited to direct seeding, it is recommended that you start the seeds in containers and transplant them outdoors when they are ready. There are many different ways to start seeds. Regardless of your method there are two things that will help you:
1. Spend time with your plants every day. When they are small, they can go from healthy to dead very quickly.
2. Label your starts so you know what you planted; many plants look very similar when they are young. It is also helpful to keep a journal of when you started your seeds.
One method for starting seeds is to put one seed in each small pot. This method is easy and helps the root ball stays intact during transplanting. It is helpful to have seed trays or large containers to hold the pots. Small pots dry out very quickly so pay close attention to the moisture in your pots; don’t drown them, and don’t let them dry out completely. If any of the sprouts are unhealthy or significantly smaller than the others, you should remove them. This process is called thinning and will ensure that only the healthiest plants are taking up space in your garden. When your plants are a few inches tall you can transplant them into their new home. Don’t wait too long or the plant will become rootbound and never achieve it’s full potential.
If you are short on pots and or space you can start many seeds in one pot and transplant them later. This is especially good for plants such as tomatos and peppers that are tough to germinate, or need a long time before transplant. For this method simply scatter the seeds evenly in your pot, making sure each seeds has a little space around it. Once the seeds sprout, thin the smaller and unhealthy ones so the good ones have more room to grow. When the sprouts start to crowd each other you can transplant them into their own container where they will have more space. Final step is to transplant them into the ground where they will stay.
I can’t emphasize the importance of thinning enough. When sowing seeds, always plant more that you need, because some won’t sprout, and other will be be small, unhealthy or slow growing. Removing the unhealthy sprouts and saving only the best ones ensure that your garden will be filled with the strongest and best plants.
This year we planted corno di toro heirloom Italian peppers. Since the peppers are heirloom seeds, it is possible to save the seeds each year for planting. Many of the plants in our garden are heirloom varieties; Domingo has black corn from Oaxaca, Don Emilio has red corn from Durango, and other gardeners have yellow and white corn from their homelands. The preservation of heirloom seed varieties is important to the future of sustainable growing. Encoded in the genes of truly heirloom seeds are genetics for many kinds of resistance and adaptability.
The alternative to heirloom is hybrid or “F1”. This Indicates that it is Filial 1 or first generation of the variety indicated. A good example of an F1 hybrid in animals is a mule; which is the first generation offspring of a horse and a donkey. The mule has the endurence of a donkey and the strength of a horse, but is unable to reproduce in most cases. There is nothing wrong with planting hybrids, and in fact many hybrids have been made to increase certain kinds of disease resistance in common crops. The biggest disadvantage of planting hybrid seeds is this: if you save the seeds and plant them the next year; you aren’t guaranteed to have the same variety. They may not even be viable seeds because of the basic mechanics of genetic inheritance.
Many people say that heirlooms taste better because they were bred for flavor, while most hybrids are bred for productivity, and tolerance to factory farming methods. Factory farming has led to a loss of genetic diversity in our food crops. The tendency to plant to vast areas with a single genetically identical crop is called monocropping; and the introduction of genetically modified seed varieties makes this practice even more damaging. Heirloom seeds have preserved their genetics through constant evolution and a mutually beneficial agreement with their human companions. The plant, in this case a pepper, produces tasty nutritious food and in turn the human protects the plant and sows it’s seeds the next year at the time and place preferred by the plant. You can participate in the vital task of preserving the genetic diversity of our food crops by growing heirloom seeds. It is important to have diversity in the genetics of plants because this makes them more resistant to pests, and disease in the long term.
Heirloom Seeds Resources
- Native Seeds/SEARCH is a resource for heirloom seeds
- Cultures of Habitat by Gary Nabhan is a great book about indigenous lifestyle and food
- The wikipedia page on f1 hybrid has a lot of useful information
Peppers, tomatoes, and many other plants go to sleep at night, and wakeup each morning.
These are our Corno di Toro heirloom Italian peppers.
Tips for Planting Peppers
Pepper plants like to be warm, so if you are starting them from seed make sure to pamper them from day one. Only put them outside if it’s warm; a sunny window is a great place but be aware that the windowsill might be very cold at night. Don’t feel rushed to plant them outside either, a late cold spell can be bad news for your precious peppers.
In El jardín, we use our very own human power to farm. Human powered farming generates positivity, healthy living, and beauty in our neighborhood. In today’s post-industrial, digital world, your food most likely comes from a farm that uses tractors, trucks, and other mechanized farming technology. All of our farming is done with out the use of petroleum. We use shovels, rakes, saws, machetes, various other hand tools, our bodies, and our souls when we garden.
In the Spring time, this means we use our own bodies and tools to till our land. In this way we enliven Mother Earth for the coming seedlings and plant starts. Various plots already have corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, gladiolas, peppers, onions, carrots, etc. In our plot, we continue to break down fava beans and turn them into the land to build soil. Last week the fava beans fell. This week we use shovels to till the favas into Mother Earth.
One thing is true – tilling the soil exhausts one’s body! Yet, in this exhaustion, one’s body stays strong. When you farm, you will need no gym membership because you work out as you plant food. I mention this because our American culture confronts obesity as an epidemic. This epdemic affects all Americans. The presence of El jardín both nourishes and educates our community about healthful lifestyles. Community gardens contribute to the healing of our cultures epidemic of obesity.
Human powered farming ensures a space for health and a space for beauty in our neighborhood. Over the spring, summer, and fall various flowers, fruits, birds and humans will beautify our community space. Right now lavender, lemon trees, peach blossoms, abutilons, daisies, grandfather sage, blueberries, roses, various birds and humans make our daily life aesthetically beautiful.
Sometimes we do not have enough time to finish all of our garden dreams. For example, we tilled only two-thirds of our plot of land so far. When undertaking human powered farming, one should remember that ones best laid plans can be foiled or completed. The most important thing is that you do work when you can and know that all your work (fruitful or not) propagates, positivity, beauty, and health. In the meantime, the earth awaits the return of her humans, while the humans await their return to the earth.
The benefits of human powered farming never end. As we use our bodies to till the soil we create a community space dedicated to health and beauty in our neighborhood. Yes, our work pushes our physical capabilities. Yet, we know that this physical “pain” and strength creates health, food, and a beautiful space for our friends and family. Human powered farming ensures a space for health and a space for art in our own neighborhood. !Que viva El jardín!
A wonderful day to plant starts and seeds! We plant both food plants and seeds, as well as, re-pot cactus and plants in our potted porch garden. This work requires those hard labor skills that we rested from last week.
Today saw the re-potting of our stupice tomato, which resides in my windowsill until May. We re-potted a beautiful cactus “de lujo” (a decorative cactus) and the Chumash yerba mansa. We seeded: trombetta squash, cabbage, broccoli, sungold tomatoes, crimson carmello tomatoes, and red & yellow cuorno de toro peppers. Meanwhile, in our earth, our favas dry and await their destiny as our healthy soil.
In terms of the rest of El jardin de la playa, well, our gardeners plant and seed many wonderful things. Don Domingo prepared the earth for an apple tree! In early fall or late summer this tree will provide: golden delicious, gravenstein, braeburn, and red delicious apples. This will be new adventure for our gardeners as we learn to care for our apple tree. Additionally, people sewed summer squash, winter squash and red poppies. These plants will sprout in communal and personal areas.
A sigh of relief follows these spring days of sewing seeds and planting plants. Our hopeful and hard labor maintains healthy ecology in our neighborhood. I rest my hat, I rest my head and hope for the future.