Today was a depressing, yet almost inspiring day for a gardener. It was the day when all of the plants get uprooted and removed from the garden. Many of my plants had frozen/wilted after the bitter temperatures and snow we had on Saturday. So, I removed everything but the carrots, parsnips, and chives, which are all still thriving.
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!