I feel like I’ve been flogging a dead horse for the last few months and this morning’s heavy frost was the final straw. We are 10 days out from winter so I’m just kidding myself. The peppers weren’t going to give me my bumper harvest anytime soon. They needed to come out.
Due to the dreadful summer we had the peppers never did very well and so I had been limping them along. Every time the mere suggestion of a frost was mentioned I was out there popping on the frost cloth in the hopes of receiving something worthy of a plant whose seed was sown 10 months ago. Then whipping back out in the morning to remove the cover so they could bask in the weak sun.
But I came to the sad decision to pull them out. Let’s face it, they are hardly going to grow to the expected enormous proportions and develop a rose red glow in the weakening winter sun. If left there they will more than likely grind to a halt in a state of suspended animation and slowly rot in the damp, cold conditions offered up by winter.
It wasn’t a decision made lightly. To ensure I followed through I didn’t go out last night and put the frost cloth on for one last time, in spite of alarming headlines in the news about a dreadful polar blast racing up the country directly from the Antarctic. The boffins were suggesting 3°C which of course you always take with a grain of salt and prepare for -3°C. I allowed the plants to be hit by the stiffest frost we’ve had so far so I would be spurred into action first thing in the morning to remove all of the fruit languishing there.
Once there was no fruit there was no point keeping the plants as nothing new would come from them and the thought of protecting empty plants from frost throughout winter didn’t seem exciting at all. Besides they do perfectly well when started from seed each year – provided the summer doesn’t suck!
It did feel monumentally sad. The peppers are the first of the season to be sown and done so with great care and fanfare. The poor old cucumbers later in the season just get plonked unceremoniously into seed raising mix as there is so much going on by the time they need to get started there isn’t a moment spare to acknowledge just how cool the cucumber is. The peppers are special though. They are with us for so long. They don’t really get going until midsummer – in ideal conditions and then generally continue until the frost with a bumper harvest. Ordinarily the first frost brings relief from an overabundance of peppers stored up in the freezer for use until the new crops kick in.
But I can’t linger over what’s old in the garden. I need to focus on what’s new. The next crop to go into this bed is the cucumbers and I want to make it lovely and rich for them and replace the goodness the peppers used up. Sow I’ve sown a cover crop of lupin in the bed and before long the gorgeous foliage will fill the bed and make the winter garden seem less dreary. It is almost a shame to have to dig it in before it flowers as lupin blooms are so pretty.
And just like that the time marches on in the garden in an orderly fashion. Peppers just aren’t a winter crop.
Come again soon – I’ve got luffas to loof.
Sarah the Gardener : o)