Hot and Cold Harvests

This week, we filled our harvest basket with hot cayenne peppers and cool cucumbers—which were harvested for the first time this season—along with tomatoes and lettuce.

We pick up some harvesting and drying tips from The Organic Gardener.

Cool as a cucumber. 

While the taste of the crop epitomizes that saying, the weather conditions needed for a cucumber to grow are the opposite: cucumbers like it hot. 

Though most of this week saw below-average temperatures, the previous weeks of consistently hot weather fueled the growth of our Suyo long cucumbers.

This Chinese ribbed variety of cucumber can grow up to 15 inches in length, and our harvest of two Suyo long cucumbers appeared to be at least 12 inches in length. To harvest, snip the stem of the cucumber at the vine.

When we planted these cucumbers on June 4, we also planted a lemon cucumber. Unfortunately, that plant did not make it through the cold start of the summer. But there are plenty more Suyo long cucumbers on the vine, as well as yellow flowers that signal more cucumbers to come.

Hot cayenne peppers.Some like it hot.

During The Organic Gardener's maintenance visit to the WTTW garden, hot cayenne peppers were also harvested and Adrienne Detanico, a maintenance crew member, shared some tips on drying cayenne peppers.

Dry them in a cool, dark area. Detanico advises drying the peppers on a cooling rack or stringing them up by their stems.

The drying process can take three to four weeks. Once dry, you can keep the pepper whole or place it in a spice grinder to make your own red pepper flakes for cooking and seasoning other vegetables (or your favorite slice of Chicago-style pizza).