This has been a very exciting year for me in the vegetable growing realm of things. A little history of my experiences: I grew in Dartmouth, in a rocky little patch. I grew a LOT of squash, and that is the majority of what I remembered. Then I moved to Kentville. I grew a few scuzzy little things that eked by due to the lack of sunshine, and probably also nutrients, despite having dumped probably almost a ton of compost in the gardens.
Then I moved here. Boy oh boy! All kinds of exciting things did well. I finally discovered the feeling of “I have too much to harvest/I will not eat all of this!” I feel ashamed to confess that some of my harvests went to waste, but it could not be helped. But I also made a lot of things. I managed to find time to make a batch of Jalapeno pepper jelly, Salsa, and a pasta sauce that was so damn delicious I would have eaten it like a soup.
So having all of that success, I will now share what I grew, and my account of how I felt about the flavor, appearance, and/or overall quality of the plant’s cultivar. Some of them have pictures!
Warning! All the opinions expressed below are my own! Just because I wouldn’t grow it again does not mean you should not try them yourself. Everyone has a different taste, I actually can be quite picky once I find something I like.
Lettuce – Buttercrunch – life happened, did not harvest before bolting.
Lettuce – Red Salad Bowl – See above statement
Kale – Black Magic – I liked this variety earlier in the year. I used it to make kale chips, and later, as a kale Caesar salad. Not bad! The leaf is narrow and quite puckered, and kind of reminds me of little brontosaurus heads peering out of the garden. I prefer a more open kale, but this guy really stood the test of the HOT greenhouse. But like all Kale, take caution to prevent cabbage butterfly if you’re going to take it outdoors. The ones outdoors succumbed to the pest.
Minuteman – Well, it headed up nicely before something burrowed into it. I was so grossed out by the frass all over it I did not eat it. It looked beautiful, too, well, poopy beautiful. I did not get a shot of it, unfortunately! If I grow these next year, I’m going to protect them from bugs a little more…if there is a way to prevent earwigs from getting at them.
Purple Prince – I don’t like turnips I guess. I like rutabagas. Before the frost, they are bland. After the frost: (Pending still, I will review these probably in November, as they are in my greenhouse) Would I grow it again? Nope. I don’t like turnips. But as a vegetable to grow, it did very well in the greenhouse.
Seascape – lovely tasting strawberry, and they were prolific, unfortunately they were mostly eaten by someone else. Or something…else… This a day neutral variety, so it started flowering in about late may and continued to flower and fruit (and still is!) well into October. I got to eat a few last week. Just like I say when I bite into that first local strawberry of the season, warmed by the sun, buttery in my mouth, “mmm, tastes like what I think Ambrosia would be!” I’ve planted some of the runners to fill the patch completely with strawberries, so I can hopefully harvest more (and I will be securing them more next year from hungry pests)
French Breakfast – Very good in spring, but once they get too advanced they are very dry and woody, but as long as you grow them early and eat them quick they are good. A little spicy. I wouldn’t recommend these as a later sowing unless you can provide a bit of shade in the summer. They just didn’t seem to do anything once the heat hit. I would grow these again, and have already sown them in the cold frame.
Pole Pea Bean – would not grow these again…similar to a scarlet runner pod. Might be a good dried bean. I ate very few of them.
Gold Rush – Very tasty, but not too sweet. I like a nice sweet yellow bean. They tasted fine, and I have enough left over that I will of course grow them again.
Carminat – This one was a pretty purple bean. It did well in the flower and vegetable show I attended this summer. I did not like these but husband did. They were good cooked, but eating raw (which I prefer) they did not have the taste I long for.. However, They are very pretty, even when they flower. I may sow a few for husband next year.
Soleil (Yellow french Filet) – Very prolific, space conscious variety, but not as sweet as their green counterpart. I will be growing a green (‘Maxibel’) variety next year. These beans grew so well I felt like any newbie gardener would feel a self esteem boost, and love the harvest to come, too.
Sweeter Yet – I dunno, there is something about the cucumber family that does not jive with me. As a result, I got only a few cucumbers from my plants. This variety was actually quite good though. Would I grow it again? Yep, not bitter at all!
I was the most excited to harvest so many peppers, I have never had such excellent luck. I started my peppers on March 1st, and would even consider starting them earlier, for an earlier yield.
Jalapeno early – Definitely early, I enjoyed these. Size was kind of small, likely due to weather. Would try a jumbo type next year. They were prolific though. I would probably grow a couple of these, and regular or jumbo jalapenos in the greenhouse for later harvests.
Chinese Five Color – Spicy little mofos. This was a really pretty pepper to grow, and they are good to add to dishes you want a little spice in. They change color as they ripen. They are very small. Would I grow them again? Nah.. It was just a fun novelty to try something new. But if you like a spicy punchy little thing, give it a go, just for the looks alone! These peppers are rated at 50,000 scovilles. It’d be a very pretty ornamental plant on the patio, as they do not get very big.
Carmen – I was very impressed with the size of these peppers, they seemed to explode overnight. They were a nice, sweet pepper and I definitely would recommend growing them again! According to the package label, they are supposed to be the first to ripen to a beautiful red. They did, in fact, ripen before the yellow ‘Giallo Mama Mia’ I grew.
Chesapeake – WARNING! a very slow variety (only recommended for greenhouses due to this). Mine were in a greenhouse. Some set fruit, others were very slow to. I would assume any other blocky variety of pepper with a shorter season would be just as good. Tastes like any red pepper, and tasted just fine left green. Would I grow them again? These were too expensive to bother trying again. I’m talkin’ $15 for 6 seeds. So nah, I’ll be looking at something else for next year.
Giallo Yellow – Impressive horn shaped peppers. These were nice tasting, and very pretty. They were an afterthought, and as a result, planted later in the season. But I can confirm they will perform perfectly fine in a pot on your patio as well, as this is how my Dad grew his. Would I grow it again? Maybe, if I came across it again, but it was not as good as Carmen.
Sweet Apple – Cute medium to small sized red peppers. Nice and sweet, but I didn’t find they were big enough to get excited about. It may have been due to hot dry summer. Would I grow them again? Yeah, I guess I’d grow them if it were to bust the seed stash, but I won’t be buying them again.
Ghost Pepper – Aaaah! Look out! this guy’s a hottie. 1 Million scovilles. Last year, we cut one up and infused it into a vodka, labeling it as “Satan’s Piss”. The name seemed rather harsh and offensive, but after a good sampling of it, this is indeed an appropriate name for such a liquor. Why would I do this? Well, I can report that this bottle has been brought out into the light of day many times, as a novelty “show and tell” for guests to taste. It is not a full bottle anymore. It’s well liked, but geez louise, it is HOT. Do not eat these raw unless you are insane. This year, I got absolutely no peppers off the plant, but it does grow well when happy. Last year I brought it indoors and grew it in a pot. Handle with gloves. Would I grow it again? No, but manimal loves it for some reason so we get it every year.
Carolina Reaper – What was I saying? Nevermind, THIS one is the hottest. 2.2 million scovilles. Last year, we cut it up (with GLOVES, dear god wear gloves, don’t learn about the spicy touch), dried it, and then ground it into a powder, labeled the bottle as “death” and used it judiciously in dishes such as chili. I only use a PINCH. No, I have never eaten it raw, but brave people have, and have videotaped it. Don’t eat them raw, come on be reasonable. Would I grow it again? No, why the hell would anyone want something this hot?! I’ll probably never run out of my bottle of “death powder”.
And Finally… The TOMATOES!
Indigo Rose – Beautiful looking tomato, sizes ranged from tiny to smallish-medium. I didn’t like the flavor of these very much I discovered, they got kind of mealy quickly. I would describe the flavor as a flowery/sweet flavor, low acid. Would I grow them again? This was another fairly expensive designer variety, the plant was beautiful among its brothers and sisters, but I probably won’t bother again.
Coyote – Prolific as hell, and was the one we snacked on the most this summer. Sweet with a hint of tang. I actually got quite sick of these. There were tomatoes everywhere. Through their cracked skin mouths, they all yipped and yelped, “eat me! Don’t forget me!” I had to run away. Would I grow them again? They split if you blinked at them. That’s fine, if you’re going to eat them right away, but I LITERALLY had so many tomatoes on my plate, I simply could not eat them all before the fruit flies did. No, I would not grow them again myself, but they were unique and I would suggest those who want to try a cream colored tiny tomato, give it a go.
Chiapis Wild – Not as prolific but a fun* tiny orange tomato. Susceptible to blight, fruit drops easily. They were pretty good, but not as sweet as a sweet 100/million. Would I grow this again? *By fun I mean these plants scattered and scurried EVERYWHERE. It needs room to grow. Nah, I probably would choose a better behaved tiny tomato.
Amish Paste – These were too small to do much with this year, would try another plum type next year maybe. I missed the boat on cooking with these due to life.
Pineapple – I was so excited when I finally found a plant that produced the correct variety. This was a total let down. I was expecting sweet and fruity, but it was fairly bland, though there was very little gel, so if you wanted a cleaner tomato for a sandwich, I guess this was okay. It was a pretty color, almost rainbow. A nice artsy fartsy type, but I won’t be growing it again.
Homestead – Ranged from small to very large tomatoes, good flavor, has a fair amount of gel but it wasn’t too bad in a salsa. I ate most of my sandwiches using this tomato, It was my salsa, and it was also the tomato I used in my tomato sauce. Would I use this one again? Yeah, why not? it was an all around nice guy.
Black Krim – the longest to mature in the garden. This one specimen was planted in my raised bed in the greenhouse, but unfortunately due to my improper staking, the fruit caused the plant to break and fall over. I only got about 2 fruits that did not rot. The flavor of black tomatoes is typically a very subtle smoky sweet flavor. My nan loves this variety. Would I grow it again? Yeah, I would probably, but with more care. Everyone should have a nice big “black” tomato in their garden.
Sunshine Yellow – Semi-grape shaped tomato, and literally as yellow as that sunshine yellow crayon. It was a slightly sweet tomato. But it has a thick skin, a little tough, and don’t really like the taste of the skin itself. I found it was very prolific though, which is a great plus. Would I grow again? No!
Golden Cherry – Yummy, very sweet, a good compromise for skin that was crack resistant. Would grow again, if sunsugar was unavailable (but not as sweet as sunsugar) I loved this variety and would recommend it to any tomato grower! I’m growing it next year. I’m babying one along in the greenhouse right now, hoping to keep it going for as long as I can before the freeze-up. Oh gosh, I can’t stop thinking about how much it delights me to find them in my lunch box.
Green Grape – This plant lacked a lot of vigor in the early parts of the growing season. It wilted and lamented and cried all the time. Once august rolled around, though, it got a lot tougher, and the fruit is actually really tasty. The first time eating this one is a little awkward, you don’t know if it’s ripe or not, because it is a green variety. Once you let them go a little longer, you notice they take on a yellower tinge with green shoulders. That’s when you know it’s ready. I liked this variety, but manimal did not. I’d grow it again, because it was a novelty, it had good balanced flavor of sweet and savory. Just be warned, a little extra attention might be needed at first.
In retrospect, here is what I’ve learned from veggie gardening in 2016:
- I grew waaaaaay too many tomatoes. I’m going to commit only 3-4 per bed next year, or LESS. I think 2 small cherry type, and 2-3 medium were acceptable for any purpose. I will be drawing up a personal waiver form stating that I will not exceed my set limits. *affirmative nod* Seriously, I grew tomatoes in flower beds and other places. There was no need for that.
- I will grow more peppers next year, likely, in the greenhouse. If you can grow peppers, why the heck would you WANT to pay that ghastly price? Nothing
- Harvesting every day is actually quite important. Walking the vegetable beds daily is very important. Checking for pest breaches is important. Wearing pants and shorts with larger pockets is important.
- When I get to this point next year, I will take more photos. Everyone prefers to see photos.
I’d like to talk more about the seed plantings I’ve done for the cold frame in hopes for late fall harvests, but I think that’s enough for today. Yeesh! Next time around, I’ll talk about a few little things.. like my wonderful (and huge) compost piles and overwintering experimentation in the mini crystal. I’m going to try and update weekly again for a while until after christmas. Wish me luck, and have a happy monday!