October 10, 2017

Carrots, Chili Peppers, Parsnips and Noodle Beans - Autumn's Colorful Bounty

Fall crops are over-producing including chili peppers (for my book), root veggies like carrots and parsnips are ready to be dug, and Asian long beans arrive. Officially this warmest October in recorded history (here in New England) had no frost in the forecast meaning that the garden continues to produce.

Colorful rainbow carrots hardly perfect but fragrant and flavorful, unlike and store bought carrot.

The ornamental 'Black Pearl' chili is edible but mostly, it's grown for its black foliage and black, imature peppers. On the left, a Bishops Hat chili shows off all three colors. All of these peppers have been grown in pots this year while culiunary types (sweeter or peppers which we need in abundance like banana peppers are grown in rows, planted in black plastic mulch).

Cayenne peppers are still ripening, but given our warmer than average autumn, most may be red in a few weeks. Black plastic for the culinary peppers keeps the soil warm and extends the season right up to frost.

This 'Bishops Cap' chili  (not the 2017 AAS winner 'Mad Hatter', but similar) is hot, but not shockingly so.  It's been a fav around here as while hot, it's not deadly. Our 'Carolina Reaper's, Ghost Peppers, various Scorpion's, hababero and Jolokia-types are still too hot. I'm trying to make some hot sauces so that they don't go to waste, but man-oh-man, my first two batches were inedible, or un-inhalable!
Autumn containers are looking bright and colorful. All of the chilis are being raised in pots this year, which was an idea I got while visiting Amy Goldman's farm last year. Sure, she had a field of peppers, but many were also grown in pots. They make attractive plants, and many people keep certain varieties indoors in the winter.

'Gambo;, an heirloom stuffing pepper is a bell type, sweet and great when picked either green or when red.

Many 'Hungarian type' of peppers exist but few are as fruitful as the traditional tri-colored selections. The varieity kniown as 'Hungarian Hot Wax' is one of the most abundant peppers that the home grower can raise. 

'Carolina Reaper', considered to be the world's hottest pepper looks as hot as it is reported to be. Coral-red and blistered, it dares us to taste it, but I wont! Nope. Just pretty as a photo prop!

'Biquinho', a BRazillian landrace pepper means 'little beak'. Also known as 'chupetinho', I have not tasted nor cooked with this tiny chili yet. It is said to have a slightly smokey flavor (I wonder if that is because it first burns your mouth? I am now a little spooked!).

Yellow peppers are always showy, and while lovely, these 'Yellow Ghost' peppers may just remain on this plant after I tasted one - (just one - just a tiny bit on my tongue. I mean really - who eats these things?).

I've been shooting chili peppers for about a month. Honestly, I have not counted how many varieties I have but there must be more than 30. I still haven't found the perfect way to shoot them, trying everything from arranging them in color order, to individual portraits.  I am still experimenting with layouts and style, it seems everything has been done already and it's tough to find a new style.

Of course, the dahlia garden has never looked good now that all of the local dahlia shows are over! This blackish red one is 'Tartan'.

Chinese long beans are a first-time crop for me, and I am addicted to them. This second picking is shorter (still long a 14 - 16 inches) than the first picking which had beans nearly 24 inches long.

These "red noodle beans' are abundant and tender. Both the green and the red varieties will always be included in my planting schemes from now on. Grow them like pole beans (I use tall pole-bean towers from Gardeners Supply), which are tall enough for the long beans to dangle without touching the ground.

The parsnips that I planted this spring are nearly ready for pulling. A few were dug this weekend to see how long they were. I don't want to give things away, but this year I grew my parsnips in the same way serious competitive parsnip enthusiasts grow theirs in England (drilling a deep hole, setting in long seedlings, etc), and I can report that the results were impressive. Not that any human needs parsnips this big and long! The best and step-by-step shots are saved for my book.
Parsnip pride. Long, deep and as wide as my arm. The row will be dug throught the winter, as these roots will be sweeter once cold weather knocks down the foliage and freezing weather arrives. A thick layer of straw over the row will allow me to dig parsnips all winter.

Some local farms are allowing me to shoot crops in their fields, which Daphne (Doodle)s loves. Nothing like a run down a long row of Broccoli in the autumn sunshine. She can use the exercise.


  1. Anonymous8:33 AM

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  2. Your weekly post is an enchantment to me. I'm 4 000 miles away from you but this makes me feel close to your concerns, to your successes and to your constant questionning about nature. Thank you very much.

  3. What beautiful peppers! This year I am growing jalapeños and poblanos, but next year I will have to try for something spicier. My husband (an Indian) is the type who would be able to eat those spicy peppers. Every year I try to make and can the spiciest salsa possible for him, but this year's was a disappointment, even though it was full of habaneros.

  4. Anonymous9:09 AM

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  5. Nothing like a run down a long row of Broccoli in the autumn sunshine.


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