Despite the odd fluctuating weather patterns, we have had success with the majority of our vegetables. I think I attribute a lot of our good luck to a good irrigation system, no pesticides, and the discovery of worm castings as fertilizer. We created a drip irrigation system which runs on a timer which allows for the right amount of water to reach the plants without evaporation. Initially we received a huge swarm of predatory insects (aphids, stink bugs, etc) however it was just a matter of time until our backyard was swarmed with lady bugs, praying mantis and hover flies. After a week we didn’t see a single aphid and it stayed this way for most of the summer. We use a packaged worm castings but I have heard that you can easily create your own with time and patience.
Here are the Winners:
Chard: Wow, this is a huge, sturdy plant. It’s from the beet family and it looks similar to spinach. It’s leaves are currently bigger than my arm and now new baby leaves are growing at it’s base. It just going and going like the Energizer bunny of leafy greens. I really need to make a point of using it more. I personally have to cook it before eating it which is why I don’t use it more.
Tomatoes: I grew five different varieties this year
Green Zebra: Tasty bright green tomatoes but my yield was relatively small considering I only had two plants. I am on the fence about growing this one again next year.
Italian Market: A good producer of nice round fruits.
Chico III: It is a Roma but the plant grew like a determinate which means it was a small plant with a limited amount of fruit. I’ll explore another type of Roma next year. The tomatoes tend to be smaller and the flavor was fine but not overwhelming.
Purple Cherokee: This is a heirloom tomato and it’s my favorite new tomato this year. It’s a good producer and the tomatoes have a distinct rich flavor. I’ll probably grow this one again next year.
Brandy wine: Another heirloom tomato, but it’s very problematic it’s had less fruit and more issues such as blossom end rot. We did a comparison of Purple Cherokee and Brandy wine and the Purple Cherokee one hands down.
Nicholson Cherry Tomatoes: I really enjoyed having a cherry tomato plant this year. It produces an endless amount of tomatoes. I’ll probably experiment with a different variety next year.
Peppers: I wish I more recipes for peppers because they grow so well. They are quite a forgiving plant. Just give it some sun and regular watering and it will reward you with more peppers than you’ll ever need. I’ll be growing more of these next year.
Jalapeno’s: We have used these in our salsa, made poppers, salads, and various other recipes. We still ended up giving three bags of peppers to coworkers.
Bell Peppers: I’ve had only one but these peppers really take off in the late summer. I have several growing right now. I think I’ll have a bumper crop in September.
Basil Is a must for every garden. I have been utilizing it as much as possible. I have three varieties Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, and Purple Basil. I think purple basil is the only one I wouldn’t grow again. As some of the plants have died off I’m desperately trying to take advantage of our long growing season by growing so more seedlings. I want to have basil for as long as possible.
Eggplant: I am still waiting on my Eggplant, so it’s not quite a success story yet. However, I’ve taken to pollinating it myself with a wet paintbrush and I think I should have nice big Black Beauty eggplant in the next month.
What about you? What worked for your garden this summer, and what will you grow again next year?