I’m really not complaining about our weather, since so far we have been spared any significant snow or ice. And I am truly thankful for that, since I only need to watch the news to see that others are getting more than their fair share. But I’m not sure the groundhog or the weather forecasters have a clue about the rest of the winter, and I know for a fact that I don’t! The weather here has been alternating cold and warm lately, and we have been enjoying soups when it has been cold. My wife cooked up a great tasting Chicken and Lentil soup last week that had some of our fresh carrots, cilantro, and garlic in it as well as some of our homemade paprika.
We’re also still using up a lot of things from stores. She baked one of our Gold Nugget squash one night last week. This is my favorite winter squash for ‘individual’ sized servings. They hold up in storage quite well, though usually we have eaten them all by this time. There’s only one really small one left now, and it’s just about big enough for one person to have a few bites. The one in the below photo was one of the larger ones.
The freezer is still well-stocked too. Lynda cooked some of the frozen Rattlesnake beans I harvested last year as snap beans. I let most of them grow on to the shelling stage, and I haven’t cooked any of those up just yet. They do make a nice snap bean, and I usually harvest a few of them that way as well. They lose their purple ‘rattlesnake’ markings when cooked, and of course they are no longer crisp after freezing, but they do stay tender and tasty.
I made a batch of chili on Saturday, using some of our 2014 tomatoes and tomato sauce. I also used some of my frozen roasted peppers, plus a fresh Aji Angelo pepper from the container plant I have overwintering in the basement. I did this last year with one Aji Angelo plant, and then trimmed it back and planted it out in the ground in May. That plant got huge, and made lots of peppers that were much earlier than the plants started from seed. I plan on doing the same thing with this plant, and in the meantime I have a good source of fresh peppers all winter. These peppers are pretty mild to begin with, and the ones that ripen in the winter are usually even milder.
I also got a small but nice harvest of fresh greens from the greenhouse. I found enough mizuna and spinach leaves to make a meaningful contribution to a frittata my wife made last week. Any fresh greens are welcome right about now, during this ‘hungry gap’ between seasons.
The spinach in the greenhouse is coming on nicely, and should give us more to harvest in the weeks to come. That’s the Giant Winter variety in the below photo. I harvested a few of the larger leaves to go on a pizza we had for lunch yesterday, along with some arugula also growing in the greenhouse.
As I left the greenhouse yesterday morning, I saw a flash of blue over by the bluebird nest box. Sure enough, a pair of bluebirds was checking out the accommodations. I guess they didn’t believe the groundhog’s forecast either! The below photo is not the greatest quality, but I was happy to capture any image of the bluebirds while I could.
It’s also time to get a few seeds started. I’ll have more to say about that later this week. I had some Senposai seeds from 2011 that I wanted to test and see if they were still viable. I got 70% germination from my test, so I think they’re good for another year. I’ll pot the seedlings up and they’ll make some early greens for us. Senposai is a quick growing komatsuna/cabbage hybrid, and I think the leaves taste more like cabbage or collard greens than they do komatsuna.
I hope you have enjoyed this look at what’s going on here in early February. To see what others are harvesting and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.
I love that you still have so many stores from last year’s harvest. I have about finished all of my freezer things; we just finished up our canned tomatoes; and we just finished up our salsa.
My wife can’t eat tomatoes very often, so we have plenty left at this point.
When and how far back did you trim your Aji Angelo pepper plant?
I pruned it back in late April or early May, probably cutting it back by half. By then it had started to come out with new shoots on the lower stems, so I cut it back above those new shoots. It was 5/23 when our ground warmed up enough to set it in the ground, though I put it out in the greenhouse before that.
Thanks for the info, Dave.
Those fresh greens look so good! You’re so lucky that you have been able to overwinter one of your pepper plants. I tried to do that but mine became infested with aphids within a few weeks of getting them inside.
The plant is getting a little spindly since the artificial light in the basement where I keep it isn’t very bright, but other than that it is looking good. I was pleasantly surprised how well it has done!
I envy those greens from the greenhouse. Yum. We are getting just buried in snow right now. I hope it stops soon or we will be having a really late spring.
We too are having a super warm winter! We haven’t seen any snow since December! I’d love some advice on making our own paprika. What would be the best pepper for us to grow this year for that purpose? We are trying to provide all of our own spices this year and want to make our own paprika.
I have grown 3 different paprika peppers so far. Alma was not very productive for me, and too hot for my tastes. Dulce Rojo is very productive here, and makes a deep red sweet paprika. I got my seeds from John Scheepers. Last year I also had good luck with Hungarian Paprika pepper from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. It makes a nice sweet paprika too. You can see the Hungarian(left) and the Dulce Rojo(right) in this photo: https://www.ourhappyacres.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/peppersaug143.jpg
Your Aji Angelo is doing great in its basement haven. I have one plant overwintering outside, it clings to life but isn’t happy enough to have peppers on it. Do the Bluebirds stay year round in your area? We have them here, but I’ve only seem them on the valley floor, never up on the hillside where I’m at.
The bluebirds here come and go during the winter in search of food. When it warms up like it did yesterday, the bluebirds and robins are all here in a feeding frenzy!
Ooh, greens in the greenhouse in Feb, so exciting! My greenhouse is unheated, and with the current cold weather, I don’t think I’ll be using it much until at least late March. But greens will most certainly be first on my list. And I love the idea of making my own paprika – I’ll have to keep an eye out for your suggested peppers.
You’re one lucky gardener, Dave. We have 5 feet of snow in our yard and more on the way. It’s sooo frustrating. We’ve run out of places to put it. At this point, spring seems like a lifetime away. What I wouldn’t do for a snug little greenhouse right now.