Sunday, November 29, 2009

Still no frost on my plants

My lettuce and everything else looks the same as I left it on Tuesday night. I think they'll make it into December. Weird, huh?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Last harvest?

Aside from the one frost we had in October during that cold spell, it's been pretty mild. We haven't yet had another frost, but I think we might over the Thanksgiving weekend. I'm getting ready.

You see, I seem to have a great gardening microclimate on my balcony. It's south-facing and covered. That means the low sun heats the brick wall all day, and then the roof traps some of the heat- enough that none of my plants were killed in the first frost. It's November 24 in Chicago, and I still have tomato plants. Oh and peppers. The peppers have been protected from the cold by a thriving nasturtium plant (not exactly the most cold-hardy thing!). Global warming?

Here is a photo of my big nasturtium plant with the peppers peeking out to the right and bottom (you might have to enlarge the photo to but the leaves are clearly a different shape). In the foreground is a decorative sweet potato vine in a different pot (purple leaves). From November 22, 2009.

Here are my tomato plants on Nov. 22. Not exactly thriving, but not dead either. I kind of stopped watering them, but there are still tomatoes. Blooms even.

Tonight I picked all of the remaining tomatoes (there were orange/pink/red ones but they were split) and the peppers. Not bad for November in Chicago, huh?

Four days ago I harvested most of my remaining lettuce (back planter). The planter in the front has a big parsley plant, an ailing oregano of some sort, and a mystery plant that tastes like lemon (on the right). Any ideas what kind of plant that might be? It has spinach-like leaves.

In case there's a frost this weekend when I'm gone, I covered the lettuce plants. I wouldn't mind getting another salad out of it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mild November

We had the heat on for a few days in October, but turned it off again and it's still not back on. The apartment is about 63° F. Not bad.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Persimmon Pudding

I was in Indiana Oct 23-25 and noticed a persimmon tree at the house where we were staying. Native persimmons ripen in late fall and have an unpleasant astringent taste if they are eaten before they are ripe. Your best bet is to collect them from the ground. I collected a bagful before we headed home to Chicago.
After much research online, I decided to make persimmon pudding. I used the recipe found here.

First I removed the woody tops of the fruits.
Then I put them in a bowl.
Since I needed persimmon puree and don't have a food mill, I used the laundry bag method.

I squeezed the persimmons with the bag. In hindsight, I don't recommend this method. I should've used a colander (easier to clean). Now I have a partially stained laundry bag.

The pudding was delicious!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cold frame

In September my handy husband built me a cold frame out of an old window frame.

Last weekend (Oct 31) I moved some of my plants inside. I'm hoping that my prickly pear and sedums will survive the winter, but it's harder to get container plants through the winter. The cold frame should help.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Green roof at Chicago Botanic Garden

I spent all of today at the Chicago Botanic Garden for a research-related event. CBG just built a new LEED-certified building with a green roof! Here are a few photos.
Inside the new building

On the roof (above and below)

Native prickly pear cacti on the roof. I love these things. They have beautiful flowers in late spring but in the fall and winter they get all shriveled. Don't worry, it's part of their winter strategy.