Garden report 2011

We are winding down the summer garden – they are expecting rain the next few days, which is often the transition from a happy late-summer garden to an unpleasnt mess. The various roots and kales will be happy, though, and slugs will come out to be collected and fed to the ducks. So while it’s not the end of the garden, really, it’s coming on the end of the glamor part of the garden.

This was really a bumper year in the garden; possibly the best ever, although it was a slow start so maybe I’m getting the wrong impression from this late bounty.

The tomatoes were 2-3 weeks late, but I’ve NEVER had such perfect, beautiful specimens of the large heirlooms. Even on the last day of September there’s hardly any cracked or rotten fruit. Chickens lose out… And we’ve been canning and canning and drying and drying and the freezer is full of giant bags of tomatoes.

We have been overwhelmed with melons. We had two hills of Haogen and one of Chanterais, and they are producing dozens and dozens of small melons. Most I’ve had before in a year was about 6, and that only in greenhouses! They are a bit watery, I think, but sweet and fragrant.

The cucumbers were very prolific, but the powdery mildew has pretty much stopped them at this point. The chickens did win out with cucumbers, there was no way to even hope to keep up. The Poona keera wasn’t that great, and even Mideast Peace wasn’t as delicious as I recall.

While the tomatillos did okay, the were particularly badly located between the rather aggressive melons and the peppers. So I haven’t been paying much attention to them. Still short on good recipes to use them.

We are still picking green beans, in spite of more in the freezer than I had targetted. While I still love Rattlesnake the best, the other ones – I don’t recall, Oregon Blue lake and/or Kentucky Wonder – were considerably more productive. A lesson: even when you think you have reached perfection, in bean variety or whatever, you still might be wrong.

The storage onions were a reasonable crop, although smaller than I’d like to see, but there was less bolting than usual. They went out late, but were really affected by slugs early on.
Sweet onions did very poorly; I tried a new ways of starting the seeds that did not work well, and they didn’t recover.

I planted four types of potatoes; Yukon Gold (our old fav), Carola, German Butterball and a purple potatoe. While I did do some early harvesting, it looks like the yields from the yukon gold are so much lower than carola and butterball, and butterball seems to have yielded better than carola. The butterball was the latest, though, the vines weren’t entirely dead when I dug the patch. I just don’t know if Yukon Gold is really what I should be planting, except for new potatoes.

Corn did pretty well, the second planting was not nearly as good as the first. Not sure why. Possibly the giant borage plant was siphoning off the N. The bees sure loved the borage. We had to ripe it out so Sophie could get the vole that ate one of the squashes.

The winter squash plants seems to have done very well – we haven’t eaten any yet – but there are a lot of squashes out there. The butternut started fruiting very late so I’m not sure if all of them are ripe. Several of the plants have pretty much succumbed to the powderly mildew. I damaged an unripe tetsukabuto so we harvested and prepared it as a summer squash and it was very nice, much more flavorful than zucchini. Been meaning to pick off the small butternuts and try… but there’s too many tomoatoes.

We grew Costata Romanesco and Magda summer squashes, reputed to be delicious, but they were just another blah zucchini. I’ve never seem as large leaves on a squash as on the Costata, though. I had to hack it back to save some carrots.

A dud year for cilantro – nothing that didn’t bolt immediately. But I’ve never got a good crop of cilantro in summer, so my aspirations are low.

The one area that feel really short was peppers. I think the cool weather – it was a very cool summer well into August – stunted them. And the slugs were serious problems, eating off the tops of several plants as well as ruining more peppers than we’ve been able to harvest.
The King of the North seems to be making a late play for a good crop, and the Cuneo that were under remay for seed saving are large. But otherwise it’s been thin; no green chile relish this year. I did have enough green Jalapenos to figure out a jalapeno hot pepper sauce like the Tabasco one we love. I hope I can collect another pound of jalapenos to make another batch. They keep turning red.

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