Last week was full of surprises. First, you guys have heard me go on and on about how cold it gets here and how I’m constantly bundling up and trying to keep warm. Frankly, I just don’t have time to be sick; being sick just drains so much energy that I need to funnel into my goals. So I get super excited when friends send ‘care packages’ with medicines and energy boosters. Then, I found out my neighbor’s been growing Cerasee next door – my excitement levels just sky rocketed. My health has been rescued!
What is Cerasee, you ask? Only God’s gift to mankind! It’s a creeping vine that yields the most bitter leaves and fruits – in fact, that’s actually it’s name in German (Bittermelone) and Britian (Bitter melon). It grows wild in The Bahamas and I’ve been forced to drink it since I was a kid – this thing tastes NASTY but oh boy, it does the body good! It’s cultivated in India, The Phillipines (where my neighbors on my right originate), and quite a few other countries. Each country has it’s own use for it and I can tell you with certainty, it will knock a cold out better than anything else I’ve ever tried. A quick Google search with either of the names mentioned here yield answers to any questions you might have.
Cerasee (Bittermelone) vine with full but unripe melons growing in my neighbor’s garden.
My family’s way of making cerasee tee; fresh leaves with an aloe leaf covered in cold water and brought to a boil. Allow to cool, discard leaves, reserve in glass bottles, store in refrigerator.
A cup of tea each morning keeps the cold away! My mom adds lemon and a salt, I prefer lemon and honey.
We had a couple consecutive sunny days last week and each day, my mind would wander back and forth between two poles of decision. The weather forecast for this week (weeks of rain and overcast days) and my own future plans (heading back to school) led me to a decision. It was time to pull Sweetboy (a pet name that one of my readers’ created for the sweet potatoes – I find it cute). To keep from being disappointed, I replayed the following mantra in my mind:
- “The original slips WERE from a storebought potato.”
- “This is a really small and confined space to grow potatoes.”
- “They are tropical plants, you’ve barely gotten in the required amount of sun.”
- “It’s more than possible that they didn’t get enough water when they should’ve and too much when they shouldn’t; so they might be a rotten, mushy mess down there.”
“Oh just shut up already and pull them!”
After laying a bit of plastic on the terrace and snipping the vines off the plants, I dumped the entire pot over and there they were!
Gently, using my hands, I dug into the moist earth to find the little treasures.
Surprisingly, there were more than I’d anticipated. Truthfully, I was just glad not to find mush (rotted potatoes)
After a bit of digging around, I figured out that the tubers would be directly under the main vine. They seem to grow from that point.
Not bad for a first try! I learned that sweet potatoes grow downward (they need depth), one plant will produce about 4 – 10 tubers (plant one slip to a deep and wide pot), the more sun, water, and space a plant has, the bigger the tubers will grow. Can’t wait for next spring!
If you’ve got any experience in gardening, you can probably tell I’m a novice. I mean, seriously, who other than a novice would plant spinach in May and not expect it to bolt?! 😀 However, this time around, they seem to be doing just fine.
I’ve finally gotten the spinach to viably produce! Here they are soaking up all that rain. These and the Romaine lettuce were planted beginning of August and I’ve already gotten my first harvest from them this week.
The lettuces are just loving this weather (cool and wet). On the left are the new sprouts of Mixed Babyleaf lettuces and on the right, the Vogerlsalat.
The Winter Endive are still there – growing slowly. I’m not sure if they’re ok or what; just watching to see what they do.
Current view of the raised bed. Celery is happy, tomatoes not so much, and the sweet peppers and chilies seem to be on their last leg.
The chilies are coming into their color. If we get a couple of sunny days, I get to pick a couple every few days; if it’s rainy and overcast like this week, they just sort of sit there not ripening (kinda like the sweet pepper above them). Still, I think we can hang on til October.
Finally, the Kosovo paprika produced a fruit; but with this cold, I doubt it’ll fill out and ripen. Next year, they get more sun!
The Spanish Lavender continues to fill out; I’m really hoping for a late bloom.
The sunflowers are blooming and blooming – adding a bit of color to these drab days.
As is the Fuchsia, seems as though it was only waiting on these cooler, wetter, overcast days to bloom.
The Jasmine continues to vine its way toward the door but I doubt I’ll get anymore flowers this year. However, in spring, I’m anticipating that that entire area will be covered in those sweet, white flowers.
My neighbor’s Morning Glories are vining into the awning; might be time to trim them a bit.
This pot was supposed to produce Asiatic lilies. Instead, some seed floated its way in and produced some sort of tree. Now my question is, what do I do with it?!
So my friends, that might just be it for any real gardening this year. As I write this, it’s pouring ‘cats-and-dogs’ outside and it’s cold enough that Fernwärme (the heating company here) has already started pumping heat to buildings. However, there’s lots of prepping and planning for next year’s garden and I’ll share some of my discoveries with you as I learn.