So, what's ready for harvesting? The cow horn peppers (I've also heard them called bull horn, not sure how to tell the gender!)--these weathered the drought and our absences this summer pretty well--
The jalapenos are still putting forth peppers, but aren't really photo-worthy right now (still, straggly or not, they are SO hot--don't know if it's the breeding, the weather, or what, but they're hotter than is typical and I love 'em).
The herbs are blooming--I usually let them flower (but heed Tina's advice if you have only a few plants), which means mine are kind of spindly this time of year. Right now, I'm more interested in their forming seedheads and coming back next year--I've dried oregano, sage, and thyme, and I'll buy a few more young basil plants to nurture (and pluck) over the winter (I don't like dried basil or mint--though pesto is fabulous and freezes well).
The rosemary is generally evergreen, unless the winter is brutal (Virginia-wise, I mean--we get
spoiled here in 7b). I'd like to think that Ranunculus is smelling the herbs, but I'm pretty sure he's chasing a lizard (no worries--he never catches anything).
My lemon verbena is thriving--it's almost a shrub--it dies back completely in the winter, and I sometimes foget about it under the marjoram until it pops up with a vengance in May.
And the thyme--well, it's everywhere. This used to be an herb border in the front--it's now a thyme lawn. There are two kinds in this picture--culinary (Thymus vulgaris) in the bottom left-hand corner, and ornamental Mother-of-thyme spreading across the yard. We'll leave the thyme lawn (and hope it spreads even farther), but I'm mining the thyme to start elsewhere.
There are other herbs I love that I've never grown successfully: tarragon, borage, cilantro--and some that haven't thrived: dill, fennel, parsley. I'm wondering if it's a climate issue or operator error--subject for future post.
Here's an annual visitor to the old vegetable gardens in the front--no, not Ranunculus. I just brought him in to provide background for a plant you couldn't see otherwise.
(But note how he embraces his work--he knows he looks best in 3/4-profile. He only wishes he'd included the no-nudity clause in his contract--can I say that without putting that little "Rated PG" on my posting?). Anyway, look down by his left forepaw--
That little fernlike plant against his leg is asparagus. It's been here since we moved in--it comes back in these slender stalks every year, never getting quite big enough to harvest. If we ever do get a vegetable bed going, I'll have a pretty resilient starter (well, in a year or two . . .)
Our figs are still producing. We have two trees--a Celeste and a brown turkey. In early August, the Celeste was incredible--we were having fig appetizers, fig desserts, fig chutneys, and tossing the overripe ones under the bird feeder. We're harvesting from both trees at a much more reasonable pace, now--and a lot of the green ones probably won't ripen completely. This is ripe fruit on the brown turkey fig:
This tree has grown much faster--and wider--than we expected. It's only a couple of years old, but it's already over the (first story) roof--Jackaranda and the Curmudgeon are going to help me prune it next spring.
The Celeste fig is smaller and the fruit ripens earlier. I can't actually tell the difference in the taste of the fruit, but the tree is much more polite--it's about 8 feet high and much more contained. There are still scores of figs on the tree, but most are green and I don't think many will ripen--we're taking off two or three a day, as opposed to 20-30 earlier. (That little orange spot, by the way, is a daddy-long-legs on guard duty).
We have other fruit trees as well. Salix started an orchard last year, so the trees are very young--but he did get a small harvest, most of which has already disappeared into Salix. But here's the last pear. I'd like to say we saved it for today, but in fact I think it just looks too weird to eat.
And finally, another surprise right off the back deck. Obviously, something thought this was tasty--I spent an anxious afternoon hoping it wasn't Ranunculus.
So I wonder if what's toxic to humans is less so to rabbits or deer? We haven't seen any sick (or worse) animals around here--but I threw the mushroom away just to be sure.
And speaking of toxins (oh, my segues are getting lame)--one more shot of my new friend, on guard duty off the deck:
Tina, Skeeter, and Dawn--thanks.