Garden Wrap-Up

The veggie garden this year was more successful than not – we were fortunate to get the right combination of weather and conditions to allow most things to flourish. We had our challenges controlling bugs but overall are very happy with the final yields. I promised here that I would update post season with final numbers so here they are.

Beans. We grew two types of green beans this year and one did substantially better than the other. It produced beans sooner, yielded more and I picked the last few beans from the plant only days ago. Guess which variety I’ll be planting more of next year?

  • Bush Beans – 10 ½ pounds
  • French Filet Beans – 2 ½ pounds (this variety died back several months ago

Greens.  We grew a variety of greens and I won’t try to do individual statistics.  Two types of Collards.  Three types of Kale.  Three types of Mustard Greens.  Three types of Chard.  For health of the plant and yield, the Fordhook Swiss Chard is the out and out winner, however we harvested from every type of green throughout the season, using them as the greens in our salads.  Their season is actually not yet over as greens are quite cold tolerant and can survive temperatures down into the teens and, in the case of one variety of kale, can actually survive all the way down to 0!

Peppers.  We had about a dozen pepper plants this year however had to take some guesses as to variety.  One of the seed packets I used to start them was labeled “Hot Salsa” and contained seeds from 5 different peppers.  We were able to identify the Jalapeños and Banana peppers but as for the rest, weren’t always completely sure what we were harvesting.  So I will give only a total yield which is an astonishing 474.

Tomatoes.  No doubt the highest producer.  I started almost all from seed, but bought one heirloom variety seedling to add to the collection.  I do feel compelled to go through these separately since each variety has its own characteristics.

  • Better Boy.  Easily the best producer both in weight and the fruit themselves which were uniformly round, making them easy to slice and cut up to put on salads.  They are also a perfect size – about the size of granny smith apple.  We harvested 44 pounds of vine ripened red tomatoes.
  • Cherokee Purple.  As their name suggests, these tomatoes get a purplish tinge to their skin and are a popular variety around here due to their phenomenal flavor.  On the downside, they grow quite large and are irregular in shape making them more difficult to slice.  I had two plants and the total yield was 37 pounds of vine ripened fruits.
  • Italian Roma.  An amazing producer in terms of quantity of fruit (the weight results don’t do the variety justice as the size of the fruits are smaller than some).  This is a great canning variety as it is less juicy.  The Roma defies tomato cages and I will have to try to find a better way next year to contain and support it but there will always be a place in my garden for a Roma.  Final yield: 30 pounds.
  • Mr. Stripey.  This was the variety purchased as a seedling.  It produced a smaller, round, flavorful fruit that was not striped as the name would have suggested.  Final yield: 24 pounds.
  • Red Siberian.  This produced a smallish, consistently round fruit and the plant behaved itself, staying small compared to some varieties, and growing only within the confines of its cage.  Final yield: 25 pounds.
  • Silvery Fir Tree.  Like the Red Siberian, this plant was well-behaved and produced small, round, flavorful fruits that were a brilliant red – not silvery at all.  Final yield: 15 pounds.  Given the similar characteristics of the Red Siberian and the Silvery Fir Tree, for the space, the Red Siberian is the clear winner here.
  • German Green.  As the name suggests, this tomato is ripe when it is green (see pics here).  This initially was a problem as without the tell-tale red color, the ripe tomatoes were harder to spot.  With experience I learned that the skin develops pinkish stripes when the fruit is ripe and towards the end of the season I did better at harvesting them at peak ripeness.  So, the results are a little skewed due to losing a few in the beginning.  The fruits are large and not consistent in shape, making them harder to slice, but the flavor is delicious.  Final yield: 14 pounds.

And last,

Zucchini.  Initially I planted three varieties: a Hybrid, a Baby Round and a Black Beauty.  Unfortunately the squash bugs decimated the first plants after I had harvested only a handful.  However zucchini grow so fast – I harvested the first fruits only 6 weeks after planting them from seed – that I had time for a second planting and with the squash bugs removed along with the first plants, the second crop fared far better.  The Black Beauty seeds did not germinate in the second planting so for the remainder of the season the harvest was from only the hybrid and the Baby Round.

  • Hybrid: 35 total over the two plantings.  I allow them to grow on the plant a little larger than most prefer (I figure I get more bang for my buck if I harvest them larger) and we use them grated in pancakes (or grate and freeze in ziploc baggies), or chop them up to sauté along with other veggies.
  • Baby Round: 17 over the two plantings.  As the name suggests, this is a round zucchini, and I was not at first sure at what size to pick it.  The skin is much tougher than a regular zuke, making it more like its close relative – the pumpkin. Several of these I used just as I used the hybrid, but on realizing how similar they are to a pumpkin, I started to halve and roast them and found we enjoyed their flavor and texture that way as well.
  • Black Beauty: 10 from the first planting.

In addition to the crops listed above, we grew potatoes, bok choy, rutabagas, carrots, onions, tomatillos and basil.  We harvested some of each and while I recorded the results, they aren’t mention-worthy.  The only thing I question growing again in the future is the tomatillos.  While we love them, every single fruit had a grub burrow into it and mature into a moth right inside the fruit (sometimes flying out when we cut the fruit in half!)  We were able to eat/cut around the grub hole but it made eating them less convenient.  We’ve grown tomatillos in the past with the same result so are not sure we’ll devote garden space to them in the future.

Now….on to garden planning for 2015…

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