Once again my attempt at Wordless Wednesdays is a complete failure. As I was prepping this image, I realized I could not post it without saying something about these fascinating flowers.
Begonia plants have male and female flowers that carry the reproductive organs on individual flowers. This flower is the female, aka pistillate flower. The yellow part in the center that looks like a twisted up pipe cleaner is called the stigma. It’s the part that receives the pollen. The entire female reproductive system is known as the pistal. In this photo, you can just see the ovaries peaking out from behind the flower.
And so concludes today’s mini botany lesson.
Behold, the beautiful leaves of this Rex Begonia I bought last winter. It’s flowering!
The trick to growing this particular begonia is shade and humidity. My time hiking through forests in Dominica really drove that point home in a clear way. I often found begonias growing in surprisingly dim spots underneath thick tree canopy and near to a water source where the humidity was high. Rex Begonias are known for demanding more of both.
When I first bought this plant I had a difficult time finding that balance. I got the humidity part right but gave it too much light. Rexs without enough humidity end up with crispy leaf edges. And when the light is too bright, they lose their vibrant color.
From the moment I first laid eyes on an Oxalis palmifrons I knew I wanted to take a picture of it with a tiny model train figure standing underneath the leaves as if she/he was a tourist posing among a bank of palm trees.
This photo isn’t quite what I had in mind.
Our new place has a cold, south-facing, window-filled mudroom. It was the porch at one time and still has the original stone window-ledge, window, brick facade, concrete floor, and functional doorbell. It’s not a very functional living space, but it makes a perfect cold greenhouse!
Since before the move, my poor plants have been suffering through weeks of neglect and life in less-than-ideal conditions. They’ve spent the last 10 days or so sitting in boxes; some getting too much light and others not enough. Several were in the cold room that shouldn’t have been, while others were baking in the heat without adequate water. A few were even stuck in the basement without any light or water at all! I haven’t lost anything completely, but I’ve come close and just about nothing looks like it did before we began the moving process.
The original window is still intact. This is the view from inside the living room.
I knew from the moment we saw the place that that mudroom would become my personal greenhouse. Last night, I finally had a chance to do a cursory setup of the plants along with a good watering and some pruning back of dead and broken branches. Hopefully the plants will bounce back from the abuse they’ve suffered. In the meantime, my friend Barry gifted me five new oxalis plants and a potted Scilla peruviana. Barry grows his in his cold greenhouse and I’m hoping mine will be just as happy in my setup.
When I went in there this morning to check on the plants, I was shocked and happily surprised by how earthy and greenhouse-like the room smelled. When those really cold, miserable days of winter start to get me down, I can putter around inside my little greenhouse, touch some greenery and smell fresh soil. This move is turning out to be better than I had imagined!
When it comes to dealing with an end of season garden glut I have one rule: everything roasted. I am yet to find a vegetable or fruit that doesn’t benefit from this treatment. I thought I’d tried it all and there were no more surprises left. I was wrong.
Last weekend I pulled out almost all of our tomato plants in all three gardens. I left in a few that had fruit that had some hope of developing a bit further before it gets too cold. There’s green tomatoes and there’s green tomatoes that are too green. I prefer to try and get them as developed as they can be before packing it in for the year. And before anyone mentions the hanging the plant upside down indoors trick; I simply don’t have the space. My neighbor tolerates a lot of my little gardening eccentricities in our shared hallway space: overwintering plants, bags of soil, stacks of terracotta pots, jars of tomato seeds…. For the record, he keeps a life-sized cutout of John Wayne in that same shared space. It was there a good month before I stopped suffering a miniature heart attack every time I walked into the hallway. For that reason alone I think we’re fairly even, but full-sized tomato plants hanging from the ceiling might be pushing things too far. I know where the boundaries of social decorum lie and I try to respect them. Most of the time.
But I digress. As I always do. Back to the tomatoes. In short, I have a lot of them and am in the process of making my famous green tomato chutney as I type this [ed. I wrote that a few days ago. The chutney is done and I have already given half of the jars away as gifts!). I did not intend to can them this year; I just don’t have the time. It’s funny how you can forget what 2 pounds of chopped tomatoes plus miscellaneous ingredients looks like until it is there in front of you. I had it in my head that I could just make it and stick it in jars in the fridge rather than canning. I do not have a fridge that big or the appetite to eat it all quickly enough. So canning it is.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), one batch does not take care of all of the green tomatoes I’ve harvested. What to do with the rest? I love fried green tomatoes, but that’s a lot of fried stuff. I’m spending an inordinate amount of time sitting on my ass these days. The only part of my body getting exercised are my typing fingers. I do not need to introduce several pounds of fried tomatoes to my digestive tract right now.
And then I remembered my glut rule: everything roasted. I adore roasted tomatoes but had never tried roasting green tomatoes. If green beans are delicious roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt then surely green tomatoes would benefit from the same treatment?
In conclusion: they do and then some. It’s a revelation!
Instructions are simple: