A Garden Blog by Kevin Milaeger

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Kevin 2015 

Autumn Greens, Eggplant,  and more

October 7, 2016     
(See below for archives)

September was ideal for growing a luscious crop of greens. It was warmer than usual, and there was enough rain to satisfy the thirsty lettuce. Our garden has four kinds of lettuce, along with Swiss chard and dinosaur kale. All were planted on September 1st, and have been harvested twice so far. The greens garden is now ready for a third harvest, and it looks as though there will be at least one more after that. The plants were fertilized when first planted, but otherwise have had no care, except for hoeing a few weeds. You get a lot for very little effort, so don’t tell me you don’t have time to grow lettuce!

The dinosaur kale is the hardiest of the lot. It can easily take temperatures in the high 20’s, and it oftentimes looks great as late as Thanksgiving. It’s tempting to let the leaves get really large. With their rich, gray green color, and their rugged texture, they are definitely attention grabbing. The large leaves are fine for cooking, but if you want to eat them raw you may want to harvest them when young, say less than 8” long. Large leaves can be bitter unless cooked. Some folks make an entire salad out of kale leaves. I prefer to use a small amount of kale, maybe ten percent of the “greens” portion of a salad.

There is still plenty of time to plant and harvest many greens. Since they grow at different rates, plant several kinds so you will always have something to pick. Plus, you’ll have a broad flavor range. The greens will thrive in the cooler temperatures ahead.

I’ve never been overly fond of eggplant. We never had it when I was a kid, and it looked so odd compared to the vegetables we were used to. Also, it had to be cooked, whereas many of my favorite vegetables I would eat raw. I’ve grown it a few times, just because I like the looks of it, and I like the interesting thorny leaves that some varieties have. But a friend of mine has gotten me interested in one particular variety called ‘Rosa Bianca.’ My friend is of Sicilian descent and she says they grow a lot of it in Sicily, where they call it ‘Melanzana siciliana.’ Shape is usually roundish, about the size of a baseball. Sometimes the fruit is egg shaped, and yet other times rather broad. It is richly colored with various shades of purple and lavender, streaked over the milky white flesh. My friend says its flavor is the mildest of all the eggplant she knows. She shared her recipe with me. Here is a link to it.

Like cucumbers, it is important to harvest eggplant as soon as it reaches mature size, or just before that time. If left on the plant too long, the fruit can become bitter. How do you know the mature size? Check the label or seed packet. Also, it should be shiny when ripe. If it stays on the plant too long, it loses the shine. This was a good summer for eggplant. They are native to subtropical India, and thrive in hot weather. That’s why they do so well in Sicily, and the Mediterranean region in general. Eggplant has dense flesh; some might call it meaty. During times when people couldn’t afford meat in their diets, they would substitute eggplant, and it found its way into many Italian dishes.

There are many vegetables that are fun to grow for their ornamental value. One such plant is the hot pepper. This year I grew ‘Fatalii.’ Like many types of hot peppers, it requires a long hot season to do well. I planted it the second week of June, when the weather was, I thought, definitely safe. Peppers are very sensitive to cold, and many folks plant them too early. Even though I planted in June, my plant seemed to take a while to get started---I think we were still having a few cool nights after I planted it. By July, it put on some heft and set fruit. It has quite a few peppers on it, and they have just started to turn brilliant yellow. Fruit size is about 2 ½” long, and pointed. They are way too hot for me, similar to a habanero. The ‘Fatalii’ scoville rating (heat measurement scale) ranges from 200,000 to 300,000, and habaneros are about 250,000. Not a lot of people can eat ‘Fatalii’ by itself. It’s most often used for flavoring chili or salsa. Or you can just enjoy looking at them!

Please email me (kevin@milaegers.com) if you have any questions or comments.



 Archives  (Click on the green text for links)


October 2016 - Autumn Greens, Eggplant and more
September 2016 - The Tomato Polls are Closed, the Winner is... 
September 2016 - Pity the Hornworm? Maybe not.
August 2016 - It's true!---Sometimes tomato beauty is only skin deep!
July 2016 - Summer Heat Means Fast Ripening
July 2016 - July Tomato Update---a few concerns
June 2016 - The Great Bell Pepper Challenge!
June 2016 - Super Start for 2016 Vegetables!
May 2016 - Tomato Planting Date Inches Closer!
May 2016 - Vintage Veggies Now & Disease Resistant Tomatoes!
April 2016 - A Few New Plants & Garden Updates!
April 2016 - Go Outside---It's Time for Planting!
March 2016 - Yep! ----It's Time to Plant Greens!
March 2016 - The Quest for the Perfect Tomato
March 2016 - Think Green! It's almost time to plant
February 2016 - Pepper Pointers: it's all about patience
February 2016 - I See Greens on the Horizon
January 2016 - Tomato Disease --- What can you do?
January 2016 - Tomatoes on my Mind!

November 2015 - My Late Harvest (The tomato picking continues...No Kidding!)

October 2015 - Its Mid-October---the End is Near!

September 2015 - 2015---Not the Year of the Pepper!

September 2015 - Top Varieties at Tomatomania 2015!

September 2015 - Get the most from September tomatoes!

August 2015 - Tomatomania 2015---Coming Soon!

August 2015 - Oh No!!!......Freaky Tomatoes

July 2015 - A Marvelous Community Garden

July 2015 - Finally----the first ripe tomato

July 2015 - Is it Possible to overdose on peas?

July 2015 - The Garden in July --- I'm still planting!

June 2015 - And Just When Things Were Looking So Good...

June 2015 - Tomatoes, Cukes, and a Whimsical Onion

June 2015 - Trials and Tribulations in the Veggie Garden!

May 2015 - Trouble in Tomatoland!

May 2015 - Tomatoes are Claustrophobic

May 2015 - A Little Chilly, but it's Rhubarb Time!

May 2015 - Joan's Rhubarb Torte Recipe

April 2015 - "Ketchup and Fries" plant video

April 2015 - Early May in the Vegetable Garden

April 2015 - What Vegetables Can I Plant Now?

April 2015 - Making Salad Interesting

March 2015 - Ready... set... GROW!

March 2015 - Unusual Potatoes --- Not Just for Tots Anymore!

February 2015 - Next Month is Spring!

February 2015 - Greens to Grow 2015


September 2014 - Tomatomania Review 2014!

September 2014 - Tomatomania Results by Category or Cummulative

August 2014 - Kale! Kale! The Greens are Here! Click here for Recipe

August 2014 - The August Harvest Begins

July 2014 - Greens to Grow for Fall!!!  Click here for Spreadsheet

July 2014 - My Tomatoes are Blushing

June 2014 - Some Tomato Concerns

May 2014 - Garden Update --- the Cold Weather Experiment

May 2014 - Is it Time to Plant Tomatoes?

May 2014 - Vintage Veggies #4 and Vintage Veggies List 2014

April 2014 - A Chilly Spring... What Can I Plant Now?

March 2014 - Start Growing Your Own Food Right Now

February 2014 - Greens to Grow   Click here for Spreadsheet


October 2013 - Keep Calm and Garden On!

October 2013 - Autumn Vegetables

September 2013 - Tomato Popularity Poll Results Blog

September 2013 - Tomatomania Category and Cumulative Results

September 2013 - Tomatomania 2013 Blog, Video and T-Shirt

August 2013 - Greens to Grow and Spreadsheet

July 2013 - Spaghetti Squash

July 2013 - New Tomato and Zucchini Recipe Blog
July 2013 - Tomato and Zucchini Recipe

June 2013 - Cold Spring - What it Means for Vegetables
May 2013 - Tomatoes in Containers
May 2013 - Vintage Veggies 2013
April 2013 - My Tomato Garden Preview 2013
April 2013 - Don't Forget Rosemary!
April 2013 - It's Planting Time
March 2013 - Onions
March 2013 - Vintage Veggies
March 2013 - Greens to Grow Update
February 2013 - Hot Peppers
February 2013 - Grafted Tomatoes
February 2013 - Greens to Grow

September 2012 - Tomatomania Results
July 2012 - Compass Plant
July 2012 -July 2012 - Heat Wave
June 2012 - Okra
June 2012 - Potato Onion
May 2012 - Gas Plant

May 2012 - My Tomato Garden
May 2012 -
Vintage Veggie Fest
March 2012 - Growing Raspberries in SE Wisconsin
March 2012 - Winter Tomato Project
February 2012 - Success with Sweet Peppers
February 2012 - Vegetable Cukes Miniature
January 2012 - Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2011 -Tomatomania Review 
August 2011 - Tomatomania Preview
August 2011 - Racine Vegetable Garden Tour
Summer 2011 - Vegetables in my Garden
July 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
June 2011 - Vegetables - Diseases made Simple
June 2011 - Vegetables - Container Growing
May 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
April 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Event Preview
March 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Announcement

September 2010 - Tomatomania Review 
August 2010 - Flowers Late Summer Color
July 2010 Vegetables Cukes and Tomatoes
June 2010 Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2009 - Tomatoes End of Season Review 
September 2009 - Tomatomania Review
July 2009 - Tomatoes General and Fruit Set Problems
June 2009  - Tomatoes Fertilization
June 2009  - Tomatoes Personal Experience
May 2009 - Tomatoes General
May 2009 - Tomatoes Diseases
May 2009 - Tomatoes Selecting and Growing
April 2009 - Tomatoes General

Any questions or comments, please contact us at: gardenquestions@milaegers.com