Friday, February 27, 2015

Winter garden

I’ve lost track of how many years it’s been since I’ve been growing red bell peppers and tomatoes in my living room. At least a decade now.

This practice arose from three things: (1) a very short growing season, (2) learning that peppers and tomatoes are perennials in tropical climes, and (3) having a south-facing living room wall that’s all windows.

So one spring, when I bought transplants for the garden, I kept one tomato and two peppers inside and planted them in big pots. They have provided produce year-round ever since.

I also tried dragging one of my EarthBox containers inside at an early frost, just when the red bell peppers were ripening for harvest. (Kitty helped.) They produced into December.

For the year-rounders, all I give them is water and occasional refreshing of soil. The plants have always been brittle, since they don’t grow against wind and rain, and each year they give more leaves and fewer, smaller fruit. I cut them back every few months, and they crank up again.

Finally I killed one from too much sun and/or too little water and/or cutting back too severely. So I replaced it the next spring, and on it goes. The longest-lived one has been about seven years. All would go indefinitely if I treated them better.

So this season, I upgraded my ritual to include twice-a-month feedings. Too soon to tell what that will lead to. I’m looking forward to spring, when I can replace the tomato with a bush variety that will not take off across the living room and up the walls.

Even with sparse output, you can’t beat having fresh tomatoes and peppers when it’s ten below!

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