I did a last harvest of the chile plants tonight. It seemed like the right time.
I imagine the plants could have kept going and growing their green little fruits for a little while yet, but a few of them have looked stressed the last few days, and the plant closest to the back wall has already been withering from the first frost it felt a week ago. Although I’ve covered them nightly the last two weeks and the plants in the center of the box still look healthy, I figured it was a good time to cull the chiles before winter set in finally- and the yield from this harvest was pretty solid. I noticed that the fruits were all a little thinner, a little leaner this time around, though.
After I got home from work a little early to work under the last light of the day’s sun, I spent about an hour moving from plant to plant to gather off of each what it had to offer. I talked to each plant as I took its chiles, thanking it for its hard work over a long summer, and for its graciousness. And I thanked God for the vitality of the plants, and his reminder about the way life goes. As the light faded, I filled one and then a second plastic grocery bag with peppers large enough to roast, and then put a good amount of small peppers into a third bag. I thought maybe someone could use those little ones as a decoration for something. A few of the peppers I found on the plants were giant and meaty, like the best ones that came out of the late summer harvest. And many were also young and small. A few had turned red, and a few were tinged with yellow. And all pretty much ended coming off of the plants.
I feel a little sadness at the change in routine that comes with winter. I will stop watering the plants tomorrow, and nature will take its course. The green will fade. Leaves will drop. It is always sad to see the leaves begin to wither and then then limbs bow on plants you have raised and nurtured carefully for a few months. Soon they will dry up into a forest of barren twiggy trees.
That is life and its cycles: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Growing and dying.
I am thinking I’ll probably cut down the plants instead this weekend, and mulch them while they are semi-green, and put them back into the soil, and let it all rest over the winter months.
In a few short months, spring will return here again, and the soil will be ready to be used again for a new crop of something.
For a new crop of green chiles.