Onions – Helping A Reader – Should She Plant According to Directions on the Package?

I received an email today from long time friend and reader, Toni, from Oregon.

She writes:

I’m looking on my onion seed packets. These are seeds grown for companies locally. They all say to plant the seeds directly into the garden from April to mid-July. This is really confusing me. Do you think I should try doing that?

Because of your direction in blog […]

Seed Viability – Buying Surplus on Sale – Or Using Your Own Surplus Seed

How long our vegetable, flower, and herb seeds remain viable (able to germinate) will depend on various things such as:

how we store them (cool, dry, low humidity, dark) and even the condition of the original crop the seed comes from.


There are lots of charts out there. Here’s one you might want to take a look at for simplicity’s sake: (Cut […]

Succession Planting and Nature

In the most recent post on lettuce in mid September, it had not rained here for weeks. Shorty after that, it rained for an entire week. Then skipped a week and rained another week.

The garden is now perfect for transplanting my lettuces.

As you already know from the previous post, I started succession planting the first of September.  Thus far, four plantings are […]

Adjusting the WinterSown Method to Allow You to Start Vegetable Seedlings without Indoor Lighting

Understand that the “official” or “original” or “real” way of wintersown involves starting seed OUTDOORS in “taped closed” jugs (with the cap off for ventilation). They get the proper light and because of the somewhat protected environment, get off to a earlier start (germinate sooner) than they would if they were sown in borders or gardens without the protection of the container.

The seed […]

Garden Seed – Heirloom or Hybrid? Information to Help Make the Choice

There seems to be a lot of inaccurate information around on heirlooms and hybrids. Articles on both seem to be filled with personal feelings rather than actual facts that might help you decide which of the two is the best seed for your garden.

You don’t have to be a scientist. But you do need to become familiar with some terms and facts that […]

Onions – Bolting – What Causes It and What We Can Do

When you plant onions with the goal of having a supply to last almost until the next growing season, you don’t want to see those hard flower stalks and seed heads that indicate the onion is prematurely bolting. Once that happens the onion is good only for eating immediately and will not store for future use.

Borettana Cippolini onions prematurely setting seed heads […]

Hot Peppers – Fish Peppers – Rare but Not Lost

From the minute I first read about fish peppers a couple of years ago I knew I wanted to grow them. I’m not sure what appealed to me most, their beauty or their history.

Not only is the fish pepper beautiful enough to grow as an ornamental, but it’ll give hundreds of hot peppers to use in the kitchen, both fresh and dried to take you through the winter.

Its variegated green and white foliage is decorated with pendant fruits 1.5 inches to 2 inches long.  The fruit starts off green and then turns cream colored with green stripes. As they ripen they change to purples and orange and eventually to an all red pepper that to my taste buds are comparable to a cayenne pepper.


Long about the end of August and September the plant is heavy with green fruit that is turning to cream color.  The red one hidden by the foliage was an early fruit.

These little peppers are perfect for cooking fresh or dried. The dried ones can be ground into flakes or powder if you want. I don’t have a dehydrator, so I air-dried many of them for winter use.


Fish peppers in 5 stages of air drying.  From right to left: Fresh off the plant to totally dried. Since I don’t use mine for clear sauces, I dry all of mine red rather than cream color.

From what I had read, I expected the plant to be 1.5 to 2 feet in height.  Mine grew to 3 feet and was at least 3 feet across.  It was planted in the border behind my garden by my Tree Rose and evidently loved it there.  (If you plant in a container expect the small height for sure.)

In August the fish peppers are just starting to turn cream color.  The two red ones were early peppers. By October the plant looks like a tree decorated with mostly red peppers.

In August the fish peppers are just starting to turn cream color. The two red ones were early peppers. By October the plant looks like a tree decorated with mostly red peppers.

History of the Fish Pepper Was Passed Down by Word of Mouth

Fish peppers are said to have originated in the 1800s in the Baltimore area. (I’ve seen the date 1870 as well as a mention of the early 1800s.) Word of mouth history says they were almost exclusively grown by black American gardeners and chefs and/or  —–read more—-

Garden Seed Catalogs — They Sometimes Tell only Part of the Story

After having rain in due season from spring through July, the rain dried up and we experienced drought for two months.  Not good conditions for  beans like Henderson Butter Beans that were succession planted in my garden from June through mid July. (They’re a bush baby lima bean that I think are THE best!)

I had already harvested first and second pickings on a […]

Growing Potatoes – Planting in Best and Worse Conditions

I had a few readers ask about planting potatoes in May, June or July. My assumption was — that either”planting potatoes late” was an after-thought for those who asked — or they had some extra seed-potatoes on hand.   So of course, my answer was “Go for it!”.

If that was the case then that’s still my answer because if you don’t plant — it’s […]

Growing lettuce — Plan for a Continual Supply

Growing lettuce is easy.  But the secret to having lettuce continually through fall, winter, spring and almost all of the summer is continual planning, planting, and variety.

If you live in Virginia or climates where the night time temperatures are hovering between 30 and 32 with an occasional dip into the 20s you’ve probably started your lettuce already.  If you haven’t — today might […]