The tomato experiment with starting the 4 different kinds in the greenhouse this January seems to have been a huge success! I have a ton of tomatoes from all of the plants that began riping late June (a solid month if not 45 days earlier that traditional transplants). The negatives: the plants themselves look pretty rough - like late season tomato plants already, and managing the moisture levels in the pots is difficult so we've had some blossom end rot, mostly on the first batch. We will definitely do a few of these again next year, and likely add more dirt to the pot so they are as full as possible. Also, the cages don't do much since the pots are round (not enough depth to get them to stand upright), so next year I think I'll try staking them.
- Brandywine - delicious! Best flavor I have ever had in a tomato. I made a Caprese salad for some friends yesterday and got great compliments. The fruit size is large and fills up your hand. We will definitely plant more of these for next year. Cons - the fruit are very globular and have started to split in this heat. Again - a watering issue. I likely need to be more vigilant about watering every day at the same time of day.
- Red Grape Hybrid - very nice! Good flavor and tons of production. Again, the plant looks really rough but it keeps spewing out tomatoes. Perfect little bite size snacks, and they ripened really early.
- Debarao - overall, these are fine. My next highest producer I'd say after the grape. Flavor profile is okay, size is like a Roma but more round, less long. I'll probably try and different type next year.
- Moskvich - lowest producer so far. These seem similar to the Brandywine but smaller. I should have a few more to try in a few days so I'll be able to comment more on flavor then.
- Matt's Wild Cherry - I'm going to do a review on this before the plant gets into full swing. When they describe it as "Wild Cherry" they mean it! This plant was taking over my garden. I swear it now has 12 different stems full of grape-like bunches of cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes are cute and round, again small (marble-sized maybe?), but I'm afraid of what this plant is going to do!
The peppers are in full swing and all doing well. I have quite a few peppers on the vines, but none have fully ripened yet. While weeding I knocked one off the vine and tried it - one of the Aji's - and oh my goodness was it hot! I had to go inside for something to drink. I heard that this heat is going to make the peppers even hotter...maybe our only use for them will be Brad's pepper flakes :)
It was an interesting year for lettuces, I think. My second plantings seem to bolt almost immediately - I didn't get anything off the plants - it was just way too hot. There were mixed reviews on the others. They've all been cleared from the garden bed, but I plan to put in a few more for a fall harvest in the next week or so.
- Spinach - This was an okay planting. The flavor was good, but it seemed to be a favorite of the ants (or some insect). With my fall planting I think I'll try a water-vinegar mixture to protect the leaves until it cools down a bit. A few years ago I had tried a baby spinach variety that had smaller leaves (of course I don't know which kind it was), but I think I'll try and find something similar for next year. The smaller leaves just have a sweeter flavor.
- Arugula - This arugula was quite good, but with the heat bolted really early. Lesson learned: when Arugula starts to bolt, PULL IT. It's too spicy to enjoy in a salad and if you leave it be, it becomes quite the weed.
- Red & Green Romaines - Loved these. They grew well and had great flavor, I really liked them in salad mixes. We will do these again next year.
- Butterhead lettuces - these also seemed to have been a favorite of the bunnies. They got munched on repeatedly and never really had a chance. Not sure what to do about these for next year, but I'd like to try them again.
- Grand Rapids - did not have much success with these, though I don't think it was necessarily because they got eaten. Probably won't do these again.
Again, we've had mixed reviews with the other plants this year:
- Radishes - I really enjoy the french radishes (and I'm not even really a radish fan!). The key to these is to pick them while they are the right size. Too big and they become hollow and more bitter. I love the fact that they come up so quickly though! Next year, I'll probably plant 4-5 at a time instead of rows so I can have a few ready to snack on each week.
- Beets - a true favorite of the bunnies. I have planted beets for 3 years and never gotten to taste a single one. Next year, I think they will be grown in a container...
- Carrots - first planting seems to be doing well, second planting never came. The first planting took a long time to come up. I'm going to try another planting here shortly. I do have little carrot tops poking up though so maybe I'll at least get some baby carrots!
- Kohlrabi - another favorite of the rabbits. All I have is little stubs. Another candidate for the containers next year.
- Peas - oh the poor peas. They got eaten off at least twice as they were starting to grow, not to mention the Mulberry trees have really flourished this year and covered the peas in shade (along with my tomatoes - they have now been trimmed). They also didn't take too well to my lovely trellis. I may try a late season planting using netting instead.
- Strawberries - these seem to be doing well! All of the plants flowered this year and I even got a few fruit (so did the birds). My ever-bearing varieties have new blossoms on them too. I have high hopes for these next year.
- Asparagus - the Asparagus in the ground are flourishing. I have high hopes for a good crop next year! I still need to put my new seedlings in the ground, but hopefully this week.
- Onions - They've just started to fall, which always catches me by surprise but I think the timing is about right. Some of the bulbs came up while weeding and I seem to have a variety of sizes across the different kinds we planted, but we seem to have bigger onions than last year's harvest so that's a good sign. In a few days, I'll pull them all up and have a better idea. This winter I think we'll do some research on how to get the onions to grow larger. The onions will need to dry/cure before we can use them, but last year's crop were good all through the winter!
- Scallions - seem to be doing okay, but aren't quite to that typical scallion size.
- Cucumbers - these went in the ground late, but I have a nice little four foot row. The trellis is in place now so I hope they'll take off now that I've cut the branches down overhead.
- Squash/Zucchini - these seemed to have come up well and are flowering nicely. I thought maybe they would climb a trellis or something, but I don't think so.
- Beans - another victim of the bunnies. Oh well.