Sunday, October 11, 2009
My Roma tomato plant had about 100 green tomatoes on it- incredible! I picked about half of them, selecting the ones that looked the least damaged from the cold, and brought them inside to hopefully use them for something- not sure how much flavor they'll have being that they froze while green, but we'll see what time brings.
I also managed to recover 2 bell peppers and 2 cucumbers from the garden before disposing of the rest of the wilted greenery and vines.
Now is the time when we start thinking about our successes and failures of the current garden season and start looking towards the future. So here are some of the verdicts on the 2009 garden season.
Stars of the 2009 garden: Roma, Lemon Boy, Brandywine, and Earl's Faux Tomatoes. Leaf lettuce, carrots, green beans, and fresh cucumbers. Zinnias, Jaguar Marigolds.
Dislikes from 2009: fewer cucumbers and use a burpless/seedless variety. Todd County Amish, Kellogg's Breakfast, and Giant Syrian tomatoes were not as tasty/useable as the other varieties- for whatever reason, disease susceptibility, fruit shape/size, flavor or texture. Dahlias were a waste of space as they did not bloom until mid-September, Chameleon Marigolds were ugly. Pansies were overshadowed by the larger flowers- probably best served for pots. No artichokes this year- you win some, you lose some. Snapdragons were better when grown from seed than the garden store's varieties. My leeks were completely shaded by the cucumbers, so I didn't get any of decent size -thumb width at the maxiumum. I also didn't get any Serrano chilies this year due to my mis-labeling. Must be more careful with that next year.
The verdict on the 2009 tomatoes:
Big Beef- a staple. Tasty and beautiful tomatoes.
Lemon Boy- the winner of the garden this year. Consistently produced the best tasting, flaw- and disease-free tomatoes.
Brandywine- best tasting tomato. A perennial variety in my garden.
Earl's Faux- very good flavor and texture. Worth re-growing.
Cherokee Purple- great flavor and texture, unfortunately a disease of some sort killed the plant before the fruit could be thoroughly enjoyed. Worth a re-try.
Kellogg's Breakfast- tasted like dirt, very slow to mature. Good looking tomatoes otherwise.
Roma- Awesome producer, great flavor, a kitchen essential.
Todd County Amish- questionable. Rather bland flavor, grainy/mushy texture, un-even ripening and a lot of blemishes.
Giant Syrian- hit or miss, inconsistent producer. Lots of irregularities/some blemishes.
So the varieties I will grow again next year: Big Beef, Lemon Boy, Brandywine, Earl's Faux, Cherokee Purple, and Roma. This will leave room for perhaps one or two more new varieties although my husband would like to stick to 6 or fewer plants, so perhaps we are stable at this number.
Even though many of my tomatoes were plagued by some sort of disease, it was a good year for gardening. I froze lots of haricot verts, made 20+ quarts of pickles (questionable as to how they all turned out however since my recipe fluctuated from one batch to the next), made about 2 gallons of tomato basil soup, and enjoyed Caprese salad 1-2 times per day for about 2 months! Planning to make my parsnip soup tomorrow- the hubby will just have to eat something else if he doesn't like it. haha.
Well it is nice to know that the garden has been taken down for the year, all of the tools and supplies neatly stowed in the garage until next season, and a few treasures still waiting in the ground to be picked! Cheers!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
We tried a new variety of tomato last week- Kellogg's Breakfast. It was a large beautiful tomato, but we weren't thrilled with the flavor, tasted a little bit like dirt to me, haha. So I've got several of those ripe on the vine that I don't really want to eat when I've got good alternatives like Brandywines or Lemon Boys.
The Giant Syrian has not produce as good a tomato as that first one, and the Todd County Amish is an okay tomato, but doesn't match up to some of the others in the flavor department. Big Beef is a classic old standby, and the Lemon Boy is emerging as one of our stars this year- consistently beautiful fruit and awesome flavor- definately a must grow for next year. The Cherokee Purple was really good, but it appears as though some of my plants (that one included) were stricken with some sort of illness and many of the fruit are not looking worthy of eating. The Earl's Faux is also one of our favorites this year- consistently producing useable, tasty fruit. And of course the Brandywine- one of my favorites. The Romas have also been great- separated from the rest of the garden and growing in a barrel, they have been bountiful and very good as usual.
I've got lots of tomatoes to use up, so it's time to look for tomato soup and sauce recipes.
The cukes are still producing faster than we can eat them, but I've stopped making pickles as we're beyond the amount of pickles I can eat and give away in a year, lol. Still working on finding that perfect recipe.
The Zinnias are blooming and are just beautiful, even though I think they have some powdery mildew or the like. The leeks are burried under the giant cucumber mass and I doubt they'll be much to write home about having not had a fighting chance at sunlight this year.
The peppers are doing great, although I mislabeled a few of my seedlings and instead of ending up with 1 serrano and 1 bell pepper, I got 2 bell peppers. Of course the horses are happy with their continuous supply of carrots- Louie loves the greens but doesn't eat the carrots, so there's left overs to share. :)
Some clean up is needed in the garden to remove dead plants and fruit and prepare for fall. I plan to harvest the parsnips this fall before the ground freezes solid. For now, we're relaxing and enjoying the hassle-free endless supply of fresh garden veggies! Cheers!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
The really good news is that we finally had our first tomato! August 15th, nothing like having early tomatoes ;) (just kidding). We have had a really cool, dry summer so far, so I can't blame them too much for being late, but I did start them a couple of weeks early. Then again, most of the varieties I'm growing are late season varieties, and they did have a hard time getting the growth they needed earlier this spring.
Anyhow, I picked a small, ripe Earl's Faux tomato from the garden this afternoon and we consumed it within about 5 minutes of leaving its vine. We had never tried this variety, so I was anxious to see how it was. The Earl's Faux tomato is a pink tomato with some variation in shape and striations (not perfectly round). When we cut it open we discovered a very meaty, fleshy tomato- hardly any seeds or juice at all- would be a great sandwich tomato. Its taste is quite sweet, and pretty mild as far as acidity. We liked it! Yum!
I want to keep a chart on each tomato so I can compare for future years and decide which varieties to grow. There are several ripening tomatoes out there of almost every variety, but I must say, the Todd County Amish tomato that is ripening (pink currently) looks amazing. I hope it tastes as good as it looks! So happy it's finally tomato season in Minnesota- Cheers!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Bed E (eggplant, haricot verts, snaps, marigolds, one rogue onion, and Giant Cactus Zinnias in the back):
Bed T (parsnips, snaps, chilly chili peppers, edamame, and State Fair Zinnias in front. Tomatoes left to right: Cherokee Purple, Earl's Faux, Brandywine, Kellogg's Breakfast in front):
Bed C (big early bell peppers, chives, chilly chili peppers, carrots, marigolds, snaps. Tomatoes left to right: Giant Syrian, Todd County Amish, Big Beef, and Lemon Boy in front. Note the curly leaves on some of the plants- I'm not sure what this is, but I'm going to do some investigating):
And some of the individual crops- cukes!
Edamame- these have been basically taken over by the aphids, so I'm not sure if this will actually produce anything for us humans to eat, but we'll see.
Prosperosa Eggplant- SOOOO beautiful and just about ready to eat!
I thought I had planted Serrano Chilies here but maybe I got my crops mixed up? I'm not sure, but they look pretty similar to the bell peppers I'm growing:
Zinnias- Giant Cactus variety- love them!
And finally, the stars of the garden, the tomatoes:
Big Beef (always a staple- great producer and nice size fruits! too bad we're getting a lot of blossom end scarring this year, but I think they'll be good nonetheless):
Brandywine (mmm, my mouth is watering just looking at them):
Todd County Amish (big hearty tomatoes here!):
And Giant Syrian (I'm hoping these taste as good as they look- I can see why they're a favorite!):I think it will just be another week or two before we get fresh home grown tomatoes, as the Big Beefs look like they're getting ready to turn on us. Of course I don't have anything written down about when we had our first ripe tomatoes last year, but in 2007, we had ripe tomatoes before July was out, granted they were store-bought plants, but we can't be too far behind! Cheers!
Monday, August 3, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
The rest of the garden is doing great- I've got about 15 female cucumber flowers, but not a single male. . . I just need one. . . I think I remember having this problem 2 years ago with these cukes too.
Golf ball sized tomatoes on most of my plants, and so far no bacterial speck.
The leaf lettuce is still kicking.
Sugar snap peas are going gangbusters. I need to find some recipes to use them up.
Haricot verts- oooh, they're coming along. . . we will have tasty green beans on the table in a few days. yum!
Peppers and eggplant are starting to flower, and the Chilly Chili's have a few peppers even.
Carrots- wonderful greens, but nothing under the earth yet.
Marigolds- I love the jaguars, they look awesome.
Amber kiss and other violas are blooming too.
Giant Cactus zinnias are blooming and lots more buds coming! State Fair zinnias have buds
It's coming along! Can't wait 'til tomato season!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Bed E- mostly haricot verts. Eggplant in the middle, one renegade blooming onion from last year, along with a zinnia, a few snaps, some marigolds, and a dahlia in the front.Bed L- lettuce in front (note one variety is missing- went to seed). Cukes on the trellace, peas going like gangbusters in the background. Zinnia in the back, leeks on the left, marigolds, snaps, and peppers on the right. Bed T- Cherokee Purple, Earl's Faux, Brandywine, and Kellogg's Breakfast tomato varieties in the back. Parsnips on the left, zinnias on the right, Edamame scattered throughout. Chilly chili peppers and snaps in the front. Next, on to the individual photos:
Peas- going crazy right now. Finally.
Carrots. . . I love how delicate their greenery is.And last but not least, Z is for zinnia. One of my favorite flowers in the garden budding. . .
Monday, June 15, 2009
then making sure I've pruned my tomatoes properly,and checking on the new edamame seedlings.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
This is Bed "L" for lettuce. Sugar snap peas in the background, leeks in the trench on the left, a few peppers on the right, cucumbers in the middle forming a circle amongst the grass weeds that need to be removed yet. Flowers scattered throughout, again too small to be seen right now.Next is Bed "T" for Tomatoes. You can see the millions of Sweet Million volunteers here, wow, taking over the Edamame beds. Also in need of some serious weeding! There are 4 tomatoes (intentional) in this bed, the Brandywine, Earl's Faux, Cherokee Purple, and Kellogg's Breakfast. Also in the front are parsnips, and the usual scattered small flowers.Finally, this bed had to be renamed this year. Last year it was bed "Z" for Zucchini, but I'm not growing that beast of a plant, so I'm sticking with the rhyme and calling it bed "C" for carrots. You can see the carrots with their very fine seedling leaves in the front, along with chives in the back, peppers, and 4 more tomatoes- Giant Syrian, Todd County Amish, Big Beef, and Lemon Boy. In this one you can actually see one of the marigolds in the front left corner. I'm pretty proud of these guys, I grew them from seed and I didn't even kill them in transplanting this year! (they snap easily). These ones have buds on them- I'm very excited to see them! And last but not least, the front perennial garden we planted last fall. This came out beautifully, with the help of the landscape designer at the garden center! The salvia is in full bloom and is so vibrant! The Peegee Hydrangea tree has a few missing branches from some strong winds we had this spring, but I think it should recover. I can't wait until it gets its blossoms!