Chillies: Crop Three!

November 28, 2012

Well it would seem that a new crop of pimientos de padron is now a weekly affair.  This afternoon Mary and I plucked 19 plump pimientos.  The chilli plants are so plentiful that we could be very selective and only take those that are large and fully developed – no little runts this time.

Here’s the now obligatory hands-shot.  And here’s a link to the previous crop for comparison.

And of course the best thing to do is to reach straight for the frying pan and get those things on the heat!

..and once they’re browned and blistered it’s time to give them a generous crack of salt and rack up the beers – for nothing goes better with pimientos than a cool ale.  This truly is the king of drinking food.

These 19 largish chillies were enough for three people to snack on or two to get indulgently piggy.

Now, I have often heard the pimiento de padron referred to as ‘the roulette chilli’ – a name it gets from its habit of one in six chillies being significantly hotter than the others . Normally these are very mild and the hot ones are far from disastrous, but certainly have a little zing to them.  I thought that this time with a decent(ish!) sample size we might keep track of how this plays out.  Well the results are that out of 19 chillies 4 were hotties, so not too far wrong.

All in all I think that a packet of pimientos de padron seeds would make an excellent gift.  Mine cost less than $10 (much of which was postage) and yielded over 30 plants.  Not only do you get the enjoyment of growing these things from seedlings into verdant, bountiful bushes but also it would seem that you get a weekly excuse to pluck a whole pan’s worth, fry them up and crack out the beers.  What could be better?

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Mango update

November 22, 2012

While I was in the garden I thought I might take the opportunity to record the recent growth of the mango with a before and after shot.  On the left is the mango in March just as summer has ended; the right is November showing growth through the spring months.  It was pretty much dormant during the winter cold, but has doubled in size since the weather has been warming.

I live in constant hope that one day I’ll see it fruit, but at the moment there’s no sign of any flower buds forming.  But surely this is all good progress in the right direction!


Chillies: the good and the bad

November 22, 2012

This week saw an excellent harvest of pimientos de padron.  Unlike last fortnight’s effort these chillies are much larger.  Repotting was definitely a good move and many of my plants are looking healthy and productive.  Some are greener than others, but I’m keeping an eye on the yellowier ones to see if I can sort them out.

What’s not good, however, are the three diseased plants that I have (versus the 28 healthy ones).  These plants have unusually thick leathery leaves that have curled significantly.  They look very sickly indeed.

Having done a little search on the internet I have unearthed an absolute multitude of diseases that chillies are prone to.  If you went by what I’ve read you’d think that these plants are impossible to grow!  Everything from over-watering, under-watering, over-fertilising, under-fertilising, too much or too little sun, pests and parasites, nematodes, root-rot, virii… And it seems that everyone reports the same vague symptoms for everything.

So I’ve taken a stab in the dark and I’m going to go with some sort of parasite and gave them a spray with Confidor.  If this turns out to be the solution, I’ll let the world know.  Otherwise if someone recognises the issue feel free to chime in and leave a comment!


Chillies: first crop and re-pot

November 6, 2012

Today I picked my first proper crop of pimientos de padron.  Technically this isn’t the first of my chillies that I’ve eaten – but certainly the first time that I’ve managed to pick more than one at a time.  Naturally they went into the pan, got fried and then covered in salt.  Yum!

It has been very hot and dry in Sydney over the last few weeks/month.  This, combined with the small pots that some of my chillies are in, means that my fruit have not been as large as could be expected – they dry out and shrivel quite easily.  The red ones have been on the bush too long (hoping they would get bigger), while the big green one is probably about 7cm long.  Tall plants in small pots also have a habit of getting knocked over in the wind – so the sensible solution is to re-pot a few sizes larger.

In the picture above you can see quite how small my current pots are.  Having been to the local hardware store I am appalled at quite how expensive plastic pots are – over $2 a pot for the nastiest of ‘cheap’ pots.  So I am using plastic buckets that I’ve sourced from the local supermarket.  The deli section gets its mayonnaise and cake icing delivered in them and then they get thrown out – so if you ask nicely you can get a whole bunch of them for free.  All they need is a few holes drilled around the bottom rim for drainage.

You can see from the roots that it is indeed time for larger pots.  Of course you don’t want to leave plants heavily pot-bound permanently, but letting them get a little bound certainly makes repotting easier because it holds all the soil to the roots while you knock them out of their pots.  Before long these root balls will have grown out into their new soil.

And finally a picture of the chilli grove with its new up-sized pots.  I’m always impressed how quickly chillies are appearing on each plant – but it is quite a challenge to keep them all adequately watered.  Hopefully this will help things along.


Pimientos de Padron – Now With Flowers!

May 4, 2012

Just a quick update on the Pimientos de Padron…

It’s been a little over two months since the seeds went into the ground and we’ve hit a milestone: flowers!

Surely this means tapas-imminent?


Mango

March 16, 2012

Another addition to what is beginning to look convincingly like a small orchard is the mango.  It’s into its second year, although I still declare it one year old because I essentially neglected it for a full year and it responded with absolutely no growth whatsoever.

I grew this plant from seed from a mango that I collected from a friend’s garden in Drummoyne.  Growing mangoes from seed is actually a pretty cool process.  You cut the flesh away (and eat it!), let the stone dry a little for two days or so such that the remaining flesh isn’t all slimey.  Next grab a pair of garden secateurs and cut around the convex edge of the stone.  Fold it open like an oyster and inside is a fleshy embryo.  This goes vertically into some soil and a couple of weeks later you have a mango plant!

Some mangoes can only be grown by cutting, and this was one of the motivations to find an old established suburban tree to use as the source of my stone rather than using a store-bought mango.  I figure that the modern commercial mangoes are far more likely to be of the sort that cannot be propagated traditionally.  Whether or not my mango will bear fruit is a good question, and only one that time will answer.

Another interesting episode in the life of the mango was a couple of months ago when it got what I imagine was a fungal infection.  All the leaves went completely black and shrivelled up before dropping off.  The mango was simply a stick and I thought “well bugger that, it’s dead”.  I was too lazy to do anything about it when it was looking sick, and equally I didn’t do anything once I thought it dead – so I left it there as a dessicated monument to poor gardening.  But then a few weeks later it sprouted a thick crop of new, healthier leaves!  Go evolutionarily advantageous immune responses!  Obviously denuded of its habitat whatever was causing the issue also disappeared.


Fig

March 16, 2012

This fig came to me essentially as a rescue plant.  It was originally a cutting from Mary’s father’s fig – but had fallen over in its pot, had all its roots exposed, dried out completely so that the soil had shrunk away from the pot and generally been neglected.  But it wasn’t dead – and I figure I’ve got a hardy plant on my hands!

I repotted it to a larger pot with new mix, staked it upright and it’s been getting regular waterings.  I’ve only had it for a few weeks and already it has plenty of fresh growth.  Now all it needs to do is repay the kindness with a bountiful crop of tasty figs and I think we’ll be even.