Lettuce, Poop, and Peppers

First Frost

November 18 – Tomorrow morning’s temps will be in the low 30’s. As cold and as windy as it has been today, I’m convinced we’ll get our first frost. At least we got some bonus garden days that allowed our cover crop, Kodiak Brown Mustard, to sprout their true leaves.

A delayed frost worked for Dick and me as new gardeners, but it also worked against us. It allowed us to finish projects and turned up the pressure to do more to protect the garden. Such as getting to all those itty-bitty chores like cover the radishes, craft a window latch, and create passive heating in the hoop house.

We took advantage of a sunny day to shred leaves, transplant lettuce seedlings, and prep pepper plants to overwinter in the master bathroom’s sunken tub. (Hey, don’t judge – it came with the house).

Transplanting Lettuce

It was time to transplant the green and red salad bowl lettuces. The lettuce sprouts were smothering their next cell neighbors in the seed tray, and their leaves were entangled. I needed a bit of patience to separate all their appendages.

Lettuce update: The plants are doing well and growing. Tonight we added fresh lettuce to the top of our hamburgers. It was delicious.

To minimize bugs I bought and used commerical potting soil. However, the potting medium was chunky, and the quality seemed low. I added peat moss, our forest soil, vermiculite, and fertilizer to fix the mix. So, I ended up using non-sanitized soil.

Gold Under the Leaves

Blowing leaves off the main drive, Dick found gold. The kind of gold that benefits fruits and vegetables – worm castings. I had no idea that collecting wild worm castings was a thing until I asked Google.

Earthworm villages are throughout the property. Isn’t it funny how I’ve never noticed their existence in the fifteen years I’ve walked our drive? And I’ve taken this walk at least twice a day when we had our dog Carma with us and now with Hanna.

Buying earthworms and keeping them in a bin was on my To-Do list; it has been for years. But, I never found the right time. Since I’m retired – I seriously considered building a worm condo and keeping them under the kitchen sink. The benefits to the garden are too numerous to ignore.

Finding loads of castings is a game-changer. All I have to do is scoop the poop. I don’t have to buy worms and their housing. That money can now go towards next year’s seeds. (Yep, I’m already planning next year’s garden.)

It’s great not having to worry about drowning the little guys or fret that I’ll overfeed them. I only have to collect the castings for compost teas or sprinkle them in the pots. The plants will enjoy calcium, magnesium, zinc, and a whole lot more. It’s an organic fertilizer that doesn’t stop at supporting plants. It also defends the soil from diseases.

Preserving Pepper Plants

Dick and I watched several YouTubers demonstrate how to keep pepper plants safe through the winter. We had to give this a try – green peppers are one of our staples. Last year waiting for the first ripe pepper took way too long.

The two pepper plants I chose for the experiment had struggled in raised beds. Probably shaded out from the tomatoes. Once they had transitioned to the hoop house and put in pots, their health improved. These peppers wanted to live, which makes them excellent candidates.

The overwinter process involves harvesting any peppers that are on the plants. Next, cut the stems just above the leaf nodes and remove most of the leaves. Then transfer the plants to smaller containers with fresh soil.

There are at least two methods on how to keep your peppers through the winter.

#1. If you have a room that stays 55 degrees and has a window, it’s a perfect place for your peppers to go dormant.

#2. Give your peppers what they want. Put them under grow lights, away from cold windows, but don’t overwater. You may get peppers using this method.

I’m using the second method. The plants are under grow lights and doing fine.

The Big Jim Chili that Dick cut back is looking fantastic. There are new leaves sprouted at each node of the stem. It even has buds.

If you found this interesting or entertaining take a look at our YouTube Channel: On the Pond with Dick and Jane.

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