Well, it was bound to happen eventually.
Look! A perfect little pepper! But, um…what happened to the leaves?
After weeks of nursing a pea-sized green ball on that tender stem, almost overnight my Sweet Cherry Pepper plant issued this adorable red sphere.
And then promptly shed all of its leaves. Except for the bottom one. As if the effort of producing that little ball of fire took everything out of the plant and it just needed to be done.
I’m pretty sure that wasn’t supposed to happen. Or was it? It does look like tiny leaflets are growing on the top stems, filling the barren branches with soft little buds. Maybe it will come back to life?
In any case, I’m kind of fascinated. Who knew that container gardening was so full of grand theatrics and suspense! You got me, Sweet Cherry Pepper plant. I’m watching with bated breath.
And since I’ve had some inquiries (okay, one) from readers (okay, my mom) about how the rest of the Terra Cotta Balcony Farm Empire is doing, here ya go:
Plant: Basil | Status: Thriving
Pesto, anyone? Even with bi-weekly haircuts, I cannot believe how quickly this thing grows. Just when I think I’ve finally gone and overdone it, cutting it down to a point of no return, it grows back with twice as many leaves.
I love this plant.
Plant: Mucho Nacho Green Pepper | Status: Juicy
This guy is just about ready to be plucked! I’ve watched it grow over the last couple of weeks – and, similar to the Sweet Cherry pepper plant, its leaves have gone a little yellow. But they haven’t fallen off. And there are a couple of tiny blossoms on another stem that look like they might morph into pepperlets, so I’m going with healthy on this one.
Plant: Sage | Status: Gorgeous
It’s a shame that sage is more of a fall/winter herb, because it seems to love the heat! I’ve been plucking these perfect fuzzy leaves and drying them in small batches for future use. But they’re amazing fresh, too.
Also in this pot: Oregano and Thyme, both of which seem to be doing fine, but which I don’t find many occasions to use. I’ve been trimming down the Oregano and drying it. At this rate, we will have enough dried oregano to last until 2027.
Plant: Mint | Status: Don’t call it a comeback
Confession: About a month ago, we had a party which involved Mojitos and I absolutely annihilated this plant. The cocktails were awesome, so it seemed like a worthwhile endeavor. And I may have been a little under the rum at the time.
But back it comes! The leaves are smaller, but they’re abundant. And I’ve noticed some bigger mint fronds popping up in the last week. This guy is gonna be just fine. Lesson: Herbs are resilient and will continue to love you even after you give them a humiliating buzz-cut in the name of impressing your friends.
This is probably not a lesson I should take into eventual parenthood. Probably.
Plant: Rosemary | Status: Bushy and nonchalant
In the world of domesticated herbs, rosemary is your stoner friend who just sits in the corner of the wraparound sofa and goes along with whatever everyone else wants to do. This plant never gives me any attitude. Water? Sure, dude. No water? Right on! Trim? No trim? Sun? Shade? It’s all good, yo.
Imma just sit here and grow my shit. Don’t worry about me. Got any Doritos?
Rosemary is awesome.
Plant: Tomato | Status: Small and mediocre, but that’s probably my fault
The plant itself seems to be doing fine, and four blushing tomatoes are currently making their way from orange to red. But…these tomatoes are tiny. In retrospect, I guess it was probably a bad idea to try to cultivate giant fruits in a small clay pot. Next year, I’ll do grapes or romas.
But I did actually eat the first one that ripened! And? It was okay. On par with your average grocery store tomato.
I diced it up and added it to a lovely little avocado-based, southwestern-style pasta salad I made last weekend:
Recipe: Creamy Avocado Orzo Salad [semi-original recipe, inspired by this pasta salad from The Food In My Beard]
There are beans in there, so this could totally be a main dish. I made it as a hearty side. If you love pasta salad but hate mayonnaise, give this recipe a try! (Personally, I love mayonnaise, but I’m always for avocado anything. And I don’t discriminate when it comes to creamy pasta!)
I would like to say that the amazing Terra Cotta Balcony Farm Empire tomato made the dish, but sadly, it was just sort of there. Oh well. You can’t win ’em all. This is my first time attempting to cultivate plant life, and it’s going in the WIN column for the fact that it was edible – even if it was mediocre.
Fingers crossed that my pepper plant bounces back after its mysterious and dramatic leaf shedding!
And if not? Oh well…at least it was a good show.