Fall Garden Update

I’ve been so inundated with peppers, I haven’t sat down to do a garden update in awhile. Since I currently have nothing but peppers in the ground, it’s mostly going to be pictures. My early season peppers are exploding with fruit, and the experimental late season peppers I’m doing — probably only possible in a post-climate catastrophe Texas or Florida — are growing well.

They’re an experiment because peppers usually are dying out as the fall comes on, but over the last couple years our falls and winters have gotten warmer, with just a few days cold enough to kill plants before January. Which means there’s technically a window in which one could grow peppers. So I’m giving it a try. They went in in September, like ordinary Fall transplants. As you’ll see, some are already flowering.

This is the front bed. Aji Ricos on the row furthest left, Yellow Bell Peppers in the middle, and some Jalapenos on the right.
You can see here that the Yellow Bells have flowers already. The Aji Ricos do as well.
In the back yard we have Serranos…
Habaneros and Mexibelles…
and Poblanos all doing well.

All in all, the garden is looking great and I have more peppers than I know what to do with. I’ll keep making sauce and I guess freezing some for later. I suppose in the spring I’ll pull some of these and replace them with other crops.

Transplants Are In

Transplant time is my favorite time in the garden.

For six to eight weeks I have planted, hand-watered, and checked these plants every single day.

For two weeks, I have carried them outside for longer and longer intervals, so they could harden to the rain and sun and wind and bugs before I tore them from their natal creche and plugged them into exotic soil.

And now, they are in their beds, building mycorrizhal networks through which they will exchange information and nutrients. Sinking roots into strange new soil, and devouring it to bulk up like a weight lifter, so they can set flowers and then fruit.

And my role in this diminishes. Now it’s just every couple of days, checking and watering. Every so often I might spray or do a special feeding of water soluble nutrients. But nothing like the concentration and effort put into seeding and germinating and transplanting them.

It’s hard not to see it a little bit like sending a pack of tiny green children off to their adult lives. I visit, but now the bulk of their time exists in a world where I do not, in the sun all day, doing their plant things. And I also know that the end of the season is coming for them, which makes everything a little melancholy, too.

But that’s true of all of us, isn’t it?

Fall Peppers

So I’m taking a risk getting them out this late. If, like last year, we get a hard freeze at the end of October, I could lose the whole crop. but life is risk and an early Texas freeze is rare and I’ll tent a quilt over them if I need to.

This is 24 peppers and the chart below will tell you what they are. I’ll transplant another 24 into the bed next to it, 18 in my other front yard bed, and about 12 in the back yard. If I have leftovers I’ll either put them in grow bags, give them away, or try to finish them inside under a grow light.

We Sell Exercise Wrong

I used to weigh four hundred pounds.

I didn’t get there instantly, but I was fat from the age of nine, long before being fat at that age was common. I am not going to talk about diet here, although diet is tremendously important. There are a lot of people who can talk to you about diet that know a ton more than I do.

I’m going to talk about motivation. And as my bona fides, you need to know that I lost 120 pounds last year at the age of 49. After a debilitating foot accident that left me bed-ridden for 8 weeks, I lost nearly all the muscle in my legs that had been keeping me on my feet at 400 pounds. I either had to lose weight or decide to live out my days in bed, getting bigger and closer to death.

So I lost 120 pounds, via a combination of diet and walking. Endless walking. Starting at 250 steps a day, I progressed week after week until I was walking five miles a day. And it was hard, but after awhile, I discovered something no one had ever told me about losing weight and exercising.

It makes everything easier. Everything. And we do it a disservice by not selling it to people that way. Instead, we choose two main paths to convince people they should exercise more — sex and death.

Sex is the one corporations use to sell exercise. The pitch is that if you come in to their place and do their thing, you will become one of the beautiful people and enjoy all the benefits we all know they enjoy.

Death is the one doctors use to sell exercise. If you don’t do a hundred and fifty minutes of exercise, you’ll get sick and die.

And neither is an effective way to sell exercise. Sex doesn’t work, not for most people, because we all know, deep down, that not only do the people in the ads functionally not exist — they’re a creation of cgi and photoshop and make up and brutal weight cuts to film that five seconds of video — but that even if we worked out for a million years, we’d still be a little funnily shaped and a little awkward. Most of us know we aren’t rock stars, and we don’t have rock stars within us, and that’s okay.

Death doesn’t work, either. Because humans are terrible at doing something for a future moment that may never come. Every person on the planet knows the feeling of thinking “I should do this thing that will benefit me twenty years from now, but fuck it, candy/drugs/risky sex/fossil fuels/etc.” Exercise isn’t fun, and its health payoffs are hard to notice on short timescales.

But there’s a thing I know now, and I wonder why no one used it to sell me on exercise, because it’s a thing we all want, and most of us want it way more than sex or a long life.

Exercise makes life easier. In every imaginable way. That’s it, that’s the pitch. Every day your life will be a little easier than it was before. And the more you do it, the easier it all gets. Walking to the car, carrying groceries, standing — every thing you do all day gets about 10% easier. And maybe you’ll use that 10% to do more, but maybe you’ll just use it to have a little break from busting your ass every day.

So that’s my pitch. Exercise more, because it makes life easier. And it does it on a short time scale. You’ll notice within two weeks if you’re doing something strenuous like weight lifting, and within a month or so if you’re just walking every day. You’ll spend less time finding a close parking spot, less time feeling like you’re going to drop your bags, less time feeling burned out and tired going up a set of stairs.

It’s not about the end of you life or getting laid or being pretty. It’s about creating an easier time for yourself on a day to day basis. So go do some and feel better now.

New Hot Sauce

I decanted Nick’s ferment this afternoon and added some pure tomato juice, salt, and vinegar. I wanted to test using juice to help with consistency and it works pretty well. The resulting sauce is funky and fiery on the back end mostly.

Cayenne Keeps Coming

Another batch I started fermenting today. I have three batches of peppers and two of sauerkraut going. This is mostly cayenne and pequin with some serrano and a random habanero.

Soon there will be many habaneros. The weather finally broke, and I counted about thirty out back, and I have two plants out front putting on flowers.

And that’s before the new peppers go in.