English Ivy in Winter

English Ivy in WinterEnglish Ivy in winter is very obvious.  The starkness of the trees strikes me as the English Ivy grows up the trunks, green, alive and robust in the middle of the winter. You can clearly see this in the picture.  With all the tree leaves gone you see English Ivy growing up trees.  English Ivy is an evergreen perennial so all its leaves stay green in the winter.  The winter is a good time to take stock of any trees where you want to obliterate the ivy.  Please see my previous blog post English Ivy Can Kill Trees for more information.

English Ivy In Winter Covering This Tree

English Ivy can be considered an invasive plant as it takes over trees.  It was introduced to the United States by the English settlers.  Some people love it as a groundcover.  Make sure you control it as a groundcover by cutting any vines that you don’t want.

English Ivy needs to grow up trees in order to mature.  It will not flower until it is growing up.  Notice English Ivy as groundcover and you will never see it flower.  Trimming it on the ground keeps it from flowering and forming seeds.

To the left I posted a picture of a tree covered by English ivy, even more so than the picture above.  The English Ivy has taken on its own form massively covering the tree trunk on the right.  Imagine the weight of all that ivy on that tree!

English Ivy has some benefits if you don’t mind eventually losing your tree.   In the fall, when most flowers are not blooming anymore, English Ivy breaks forth with its blooms.  Many a pollinator visit this food source in the fall when not much else is available.  This is a great advantage for the insects.  In a forest of many trees having a few that look like this wouldn’t be so bad, because there are so many trees.  See this link on English Ivy and pollinators for more information.



Growing and Drying Thai Ornamental Peppers

Over the last few years we have been growing and drying Thai ornamental peppers.  Thai peppers are a perfect container garden plant.  They are beautiful and also good to eat, but only for those who love hot peppers.  Beware because they are actually very hot.  We always grow a container on our porch.  They grow 12-18 inches high and produce many, many peppers!  Experience a great entry garden happening for a hot pepper lover or for someone who just wants a beautiful ornamental plant in a container on their porch!  Check out this link to see the Thai peppers that I am talking about.  They are very small and grow with their ends pointing up.  There are different types of Thai peppers so if you search for them on the internet you will see images of different looking Thai peppers.

Learning New Things About Growing and Drying Thai Ornamental Peppers!

We grew a lot of peppers this year, all types but mostly hot ones.  So we had to learn how to preserve them so we didn’t waste all of them.  I posted about our pepper growing experiences this year in Growing Hot Peppers.  We dried all the peppers using a dryer that we bought on Amazon.  Processing the peppers took a lot of time.  Picking them was delightful and very satisfying.  Then we had to cut them up and lay them out on the drying racks.  This was time consuming.  As peppers got smaller, it took more time to lay them out.  We didn’t cut up the smaller peppers.

We learned a very good technique just because we got overwhelmed with drying peppers.  And because we had our first frost.  We had to quickly harvest all the peppers before the first frost or they would be ruined.  We ran out of time so we just cut off branches and stuffed them in some plastic shopping bags.  Then we got busy and forgot about them.  A few weeks later we found the peppers and branches in the shopping bags.  Lo and behold, they had all dried so nicely without us doing anything.

Thai Ornamental Peppers Dried Naturally

All we had to do was to cut them off the branches and store them away.  The picture at the top of the page shows our harvest.  I think this worked so nicely because the peppers are very small.  We had a few larger peppers in the bag and they were moldy.  The larger peppers need to be dried in a dryer or in the sun.  If they are very large like Jalapenos they should be slice up also.  Just one other tip:  Don’t close the bags!!  We left them open which allowed a lot of air to circulate.  Try growing peppers this year and enjoy their beauty or their heat if that is your thing!!