Dream Pillows and Bhut Jalokia Peppers

We were honored and pleased to have our friend and last summer's intern/WWOOFer, Adam, come for a visit this week. Last summer he kept the garden in fantastic shape, planting, tending and harvesting throughout the season. Adam shares my passion for good food and cooking, so we cooked the garden all season long. Adam came to Long Creek Herb Farm a year ago last May, when I was still recuperating from my January surgery. He was a lifesaver for the garden! We convinced him to stay the summer and see the season through and enjoyed his wonderful spirit. From here he went on to Washington state to work on an organic production farm. He was only home for a short while to visit his father, and came by to see us. I was a bit embarrassed to show him the garden. With some back-pain issues this summer, and constant rain, it didn't look dressed and ready as it had when he was in charge. He harvested peppers, lemongrass and a variety of herbs to take back with him.

Our friend, Arne Arnsteadt, an organic grower in Ava, MO, sent this picture of his giant castor bean plants. He's dwarfed and looks child-size under the enormous canopy. He cut them down yesterday, resorting to a chain saw for the job.

I've been harvesting the pepper crop, trying to keep ahead of frost. We generally don't have a frost until Halloween, or after, and lots of fingers are crossed that will be true this year. My figs will ripen if they have another 10 days of warmth. This week it's been in the upper 70s and sunny, so the figs are racing to get ripe.

Here are a few of the pepper varieties I grew this year (click to enlarge to see the labels). My favorites this year include Jamaican Spice, Fish Pepper and a new one, the Elephant Tusk. I also grew a few plants of the bhut jalokia. If you were following last year you may recall that a jalapeno pepper is rated at about 2,500 ~ 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), a cayanne is rated at 30,000 ~ 50,000 SUs while an orange habanero is rated at 150,000 ~ 325,000 SHU and the bhut jalokia (also called naga jalokia) clocks in at a whopping 800,000 to 1,041,000 SHUs! While a habanero pepper has intense heat, it also has flavor, especially when moderated with mango, pineapple, peaches or cream, but the bhut jalokia has little flavor. It's simply the hottest pepper in the world, according to the Guiness Book of World Records. Here's what they say: "It was measured at 1,001,304 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), at the New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA, on 9 September 2006." So why do I grow it? Because I can!

Someone asked me on Facebook what allspice looks like, so I took photos today of my allspice, bay rum, lemon bay rum and cinnamon. These are the great little rooted cuttings I found when I was in Florida last February and they've grown a great deal this summer. I use the leaves for seasoning. With all 4 plants, I like to crush a couple of leaves in some heavy whipping cream and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. Next day I remove the leaves, whip the cream and add a bit of sugar. It's very tasty! The leaves work well in cookies and other desserts, too.

I moved all the plants out of the sunporch yesterday and sprayed each one with ultra-fine oil spray. I'd sprayed once already but it rained before I got the plants indoors and washed off the spray, then it turned cold. Within slightly over a week, mealy bugs had formed a community on one of the unsprayed plants, so to be safe, everything went out for a complete spraying. Now they're all tucked inside. They'll go out and get sprayed several times during the winter to prevent bug problems. Our cat, Squeak's daybed is right under the orchid shelf, just below the cinnamon and allspice plants. She whiles away the daylight hours curled up, dreaming.

One of my other jobs today was photographing some of our products. Our website is getting a complete make-over and the webmaster wanted fresh photographs. Squeak got to be a model for the Purr-fect Catnap Pillow with Catnip but she got so excited it interrupted her nap. I also took several photos of our various Dream Pillows and the Cat and Dog Cookie Kits, too.

If you're a retired English teacher and my occasional grammatical error bothers you, I'm sorry for that. I'm mostly sorry you can't read for content and intent, instead of criticism. I work long days, I stay up late, updating my blog. (The definition of a blog is, web diary, my thoughts, written to share). If you want to obsess over writing, check the writing format for Twitter messages. Language is a living thing, it grows and changes with the times.

Now, like Squeak, I really am off to dreamland! Happy gardening to all and thank you for checking in.

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