Smile, Though the Season’s Ending

Me with Sue and Judy's Garden

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking

“Smile” by Charles Chaplin, John Turner, and Geoffrey Parsons

Another gardening season is slowly but steadily drawing to a close. Soon the garden implements will be cleaned, oiled, and put away for the last time this year. The hose will be rolled up and stored away, and the last tomato eaten. Seven months of planting, cultivating, and harvesting – and now it’s all over. Soon, the patch of ground which you tended with great care and joy will be covered over with a mass of cold, white misery. And cold and white in great abundance will be the theme for the next three or four months.

Sound depressing? Well it is – if you choose to focus on the misery of cold and snow. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” So let’s heed his wise advice and smile. Smile as the snowflakes blanket the patch of ground that once blossomed with bright and colorful fruits and vegetables. Smile as you turn up the heat and throw on another sweater. And smile even when you’ve had it up to here with the holiday season. Because, my friends, you have a lot to smile about. You have a cupboard filled with pickles, chutneys, jams, and jellies. Your meals crackle with flavor because of all the herbs that you harvested, dried, and added to the food. You have fresh produce in cold storage in your basement, window well, or buried in the ground to be savored whenever you choose. And every time you bite into one of these carefully preserved fruits and vegetables, the misery of winter disappears for a few moments and a glint of summer comes shining through.

And very soon, the seed catalogs will start filling your mailbox, starting as a trickle in December and turning into a flood by March – which brings us to a final, smile-inducing reminder that cold, ice, and snow do not last forever. The earth will once again tilt towards the sun, the days will start getting longer, and the weather warmer. And before you know it, it will be time once again to start tilling the soil, planting seed, and preparing for another season of gardening.

So smile, my friends. Gardening never truly ends. It just takes a short hiatus. But it will always come back. Always.


If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Don’t Grow Peppers


Carolina Reaper

Some like it hot. No, I’m not referring to the movie. I’m talking about the way people like to spice up their meals. When it comes to heat and spice, people’s tastes run the gamut. Some prefer their meals bland, with very little spice, while others prefer their meals gut-burning, furnace-fire hot.

One of the best ways to heat up a meal is to add in hot peppers. But how do you know which peppers will give you the right amount of heat?

The spiciness/heat of peppers and other spicy foods are measured on what is known as the Scoville scale. Named after Wilbur L. Scoville (1865-1942), this scale measures the amount of capsaicin (8-methyl N-vanillyl 6-nonenamide) and other similar compounds (capsaicinoids). It is these compounds that make peppers “hot” (as well as any meals or sauces to which they are added).

Sweet peppers, which have little or no capsaicin, register zero on the Scoville scale. Others like the habanero, blaze in at 300,000 Scoville heat units (SHU).

Just how hot is hot when it comes to peppers? According to, the ten hottest peppers are as follows:

  1. Red Savina Habanero 500,000 SHU
    9. 7 Pot Red (Giant) ~1,000,000 SHU
    8. 7 Pot Barrackpore ~1,000,000 SHU
    7. Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia) 1,041,427 SHU
    6. Naga Viper 1,349,000 SHU
    5. Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” 1,463,700 SHU
    4. 7 Pot Primo 1,469,000 SHU
    3. 7 Pot Douglah 1,853,936 SHU
    2. Trinidad Moruga Scorpion 2,009,231 SHU
    1. Carolina Reaper 2,200,000 SHU

So if you want some spice in your rice and heat in your meat, then mix in some of these babies. In the words of the comic book superhero The Human Torch – FLAME ON!!