Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Monday, October 1, 2012

Kitchen Garden: Eggplant, Potatoes, Peppers & Carrots

This bloom belongs to Black Beauty Eggplant. Most vegetable plant blooms are rather insignificant but this one is lovely! 


You may remember in my Lessons Learned post that I learned that the eggplant blooms are wind pollinated. Sometimes with the summer's heat and humidity the pollen becomes sticky and doesn't fall down on the pistil. My hope was that Fall's cooler weather would result in pollination. Alas, look what is growing in the garden now! We are on the way with three fruit and several blooms.

 
I just love the deep purple. So appropriate for fall!

Have you ever wondered why a sweet potato blooms? Well, its probably not something you've spent an entire day pondering over but maybe it has crossed your mind before. These are the type of things I contemplate as I am weeding in the garden.


Oh, I realize that the plant is putting out a flower to attract pollinators so that it can produce seed and give life to the next generation of potato. I know if I were a pollinator I would hang out with them. They are really attractive blooms. Kind of resembling a morning glory. But, who grows potatoes from seed? Are those pollinators working hard for nothing?

If you were stranded on an island and you could choose only one food the sweet potato should be it! They are the most nutritious vegetable in the world. They are a very good source of vitamin C, copper, fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, iron and manganese. The vitamin C and beta-carotene in the sweet potatoes even work as powerful antioxidants. And, best of all they are delicious with all their sweetness and creamy texture. So, what's not to love?


Our potatoes are not ready for harvest just yet. My son grew these potatoes with his Junior Master Gardener group and he is very proud of them!

Did you know that sweet potatoes are not even in the potato family? Look at its botanical name Solanum tuberosum and you see that it belongs to the Solanaceae family which includes tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and tomatillos.

(In response to your comments I obviously wasn't clear in my writing above: Solanum tuberosum is the potato family which includes potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant in the genus Solanum. Sweet potatoes (Ipomaea batatas) are in the Convolvulaceae family which include morning glories in the Ipomoea genus. Sorry for the confusion!)

We are still getting some tomato production although it is sure to slow down soon. I planted Better Boy tomato seeds, which I won from Gardens Eye View, (Hip, Hip, Hurray~thank you Donna!) this summer. This was my first experience growing them from seed. I planted them in early summer and they started producing in August. The tomatoes look better than the tomatoes I bought as seedlings and there is far less cracking on the fruit. 


The cherry tomatoes which were planted in early summer from purchased seedlings are still producing some fruit.


We love spicy hot at our house! The mouth burning, eye watering kind of hot. We grow jalapeno, cayenne, hot banana and habanero peppers.

The orange habanero and red cayenne peppers bring a festive touch to the garden.


We planted a late crop of carrots in spring hoping to harvest them before the heat set in. They were the slowest growers ever! I left them in the garden over the summer for the black swallowtail caterpillars but they seemed to prefer the fennel and parsley. To make room in the beds for sowing cooler season crops I decided it was time to pull them out. Well, much to our surprise we had carrots.


We steamed them, added a little salt and pepper and they were very tasty!

Soon we will be pulling out the remaining summer crops and planting Brussel sprouts, turnip greens, cabbage, mustard greens, and carrots. We've already planted lettuce and spinach. Have you started a fall garden yet? What will you be growing?

29 comments:

  1. Your veggies look fantastic. And your son's potatoes look great!
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Thanks Cher! It has been an interesting season.

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  2. What a wonderful garden! A garden is in my future plans.

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    1. Mary, I have only been vegetable gardening for a few years so I am still on a big learning curve. It is very rewarding and well worth the effort!

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  3. Your vegetable garden seems as busy as mine. I just love growing my own food, and I, too, have noticed some of the blooms of veggies are so lovely. I particularly like the okra blooms with that purple center.

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    1. I've never grown okra. Shocking, right! Maybe next year we will try them. My hubby loves them fried!

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  4. Wonderful photographs, wonderful natural resources. I am greeting

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  5. I love that carrot photo! I'm envying all the fall veggie planting that's going on...I might have to try to squeeze a few in somewhere after all.

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    1. Veggies planted with perennials is all the rage so I say add a few to your garden :O)

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  6. My younger son would be happy at your house. He scorns jalapeno as too mild. He would like to grow something called Scotch Bonnet, which is apparently the hottest pepper on record.

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    1. Scotch Bonnet are my husband's favorite! However, we have never grown them. There is always next year...

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  7. Your veggie garden looks wonderful and I loved the flower of the eggplant. I took many pictures of mine and they were very prolific ~ next year I will just plant one... We also grew hot peppers.... as we used them in our African cooking... they were hotter then normal this year, I think because we had such a hot summer. But our garden is just about done for as the colder weather has come. We still have tomatoes outside as I prefer them to ripen at least somewhat outside, also have carrots and beets still in the ground but have harvested everything else. We only got one okra this year... Not sure why only one but then that is better then some year.

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    1. Every year vegetable garden is a challenge and learning experience. What works one year might not the next. I think vine ripened tomatoes are the best. Not sure how our winter garden will do. According to Farmer's Almanac we are in for a chilly and wet winter.

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  8. I don't plant fall vegetables. I just don't have time. My sweet potatoes never bloomed but the pots are full of potatoes, I think. I've seen them bursting through the soil. I'm looking forward to pulling my carrots soon, too. They're probably headed for carrot cake. :o) I hope they look as good as yours. I'm so glad your eggplant are fruiting for you! Yay!

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    1. Oh, I love carrot cake! I am going to be planting more carrots for the winter so we'll see how they do. It is always a surprise!

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  9. I have two little sad eggplants happening right now. I just came back inside from taking some photos of the garden. I don't think I've ever seen cayenne pepper before. It's great to see what it look likes before it becomes powder. Great fun facts about sweet potatoes.

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    1. This is our first year growing cayenne and they have been very fruitful. I will grow them again next year. They are so pretty and colorful too!

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  10. I didn't know that sweet potatoes were in the Solanaceae family, though I don't think I gave it a lot of thought. I LOVE eating them. Our farmer has them and we have been eating them often already....and beets! and kale! I love our farmer...she is pesticide free and has beautiful crops. I don't have enough sun, so I frequent my farmer's stand.

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    1. Lucky you to have found a good farmer! I wrote an addendum to the part on the potato family. I was referring to potatoes and not sweet potatoes. Sorry this was not clear!

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  11. I did not even plant any vegetables (except the interloper pumpkin) this year, so no late crops will be here. It is nice seeing you had a great harvest. My mouth s watering for the tomatoes. I miss having fresh tomatoes the most.

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    1. Summers are busy and I think the last thing on most people's mind is planting a fall garden. Fortunately, in my zone we have a longer growing season and can plant later and even grow some things through the winter if it is mild or we cover them when we have frost. This winter is suppose to be "chilly and wet". Not sure what "chilly" means...cold or mild?

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  12. I thought the sweet potato was in the same family as morning glories, not tomatoes. They are my favorite vegetable.

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    1. Sorry my writing wasn't clear. You are right sweet potatoes and morning glories are related. Tomatoes and potatoes are in the same family. My favorite sweet potato is just with a little butter and pepper. Yum!

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  13. First off - love your header (have I missed that before ?).

    I've had to stop growing potatoes (not the sweet variety) due to potato beetles. Even though I started a garden in virgin ground and there are no potatoes grown within (at least) 1/2 mile, they found ours immediately - I'd spend 45 minutes/day picking them and the eggs off, to no avail; aw well. We had plentiful carrots this year but very small due to drought despite my very regular watering.

    Lovely photos of the eggplant and sweet potato blooms. Looks like you have a good harvest. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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    1. Rick, I added that header sometime in September. My goal was to put up a new photo each month but I haven't been very good about keeping up with that. What a bummer about your potatoes! Isn't it amazing how quickly insects can find plants. We had an invasion of saw flies on the hibiscus in early fall and they almost killed the plants. It is always a fine balance between our gardens and what nature wants to do! I was very surprised our carrots grew in our hot summer. The vegetable garden did get a lot of supplemental water and that corner of the raised beds doesn't get quite so much sun so they did well albeit they took a long time to grow.

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  14. I'm a big fan of veggie blossoms! Those are beautiful! And your harvest is impressive. Better Boy is one of my favorite Tomato varieties. Mine are producing now, too--just in time for our first freeze, on Thursday!

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  15. I'm a big fan of veggie blossoms! Those are beautiful! And your harvest is impressive. Better Boy is one of my favorite Tomato varieties. Mine are producing now, too--just in time for our first freeze, on Thursday!

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  16. I still have eggplant and sweet potatoes to harvest with beans...the fall harvest has also begun...I love the non-stop veggies but it does take lots of succession planting and planning...glad the tomato seeds were a success but they were grown by a great gardener.

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  17. I would like to have some veg in a container garden next season...Michelle

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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