The one that bit the dust

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.

So dramatic.

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.

21 responses to “The one that bit the dust

  1. I toldja the rosemary would be fine!

    • It has definitely filled out over the last couple of months!

      Just another thing that me and the rosemary have in common… :)

  2. Your plants are looking great! And I am so cracking up at your first dramatic plant!

  3. “bushy and nonchalant”. hahaha.
    I have to thank you for this post. As soon as I saw it I thought “Oh crap, I need to water my giant tomato plant I totally forgot about it”. Thanks to you, the plant will live to see another day.

    On your last post….dude. I am so excited for you to run Athens and tell me all about it. :)

    • There will be an 11-part vacation recap with hundreds of pictures!

      (Oh god no.)

      But yes, I’m definitely looking forward to soaking up the whole experience and sharing it. :)

      I hope your tomato is bigger than mine!

  4. Your garden is impressive. Rosemary sounds like my kind of plant. My one house plant that “rarely needs water” has 1 leaf.

  5. That pepper plant is just acting how I feel after a big run.

    Maybe it’s not a pepper plant at all. Maybe it’s a Metaphor Plant.

    • Strangely, I relate to the plant a little bit, too. How nice would it be to just shake your stems and get rid of all your leaves once in a while?


  6. Look at you growing shit. I’ve never tried. I think I’d fail.

  7. Your garden is looking much better than mine. Except the basil…I’ve got to start picking that before it dies. Love basil.

  8. One out of many isn’t bad at all. You grow such mad herb, you’re gonna have narcs on yo’ ass. And then they’ll be like, ooh, sage…

  9. i love that your rosemary plant wants doritos. nonchalance is key to plant success, it seems.

  10. You have a rockin’ garden! The pasta looks pretty awesome too.

  11. Your description of the rosemary plant is hysterical!!!

  12. Your garden looks so great! I hope my stuff flourishes like that. I have no peppers yet.

  13. based on the fact that you’re using the mint to fuel some drinking i think you might be tempting me to join the plant cultivation band wagon 😉

  14. I just heard about using avocado for cream instead of mayo. I don’t really like mayo so I am all over this.

    • It’s really good! I have seen a lot of recipes with pureed avocado lately, too. It kind of whips up when you process it. Delicious.

  15. Augh, I’m growing zucchini in my container garden, and all the leaves are turning black and falling off. My basil is doing great, however. Sigh. I’d be happy if I got just one zucchini out of this, even if the leaves all fell off.

    Are you using any fertilizer or plant food? I just used potting soil…my tomato plant is still all leaves . . . not even a flower.