Monday, November 14, 2011

Year in review - best and also rans

I got nothing this week.  Their will be some lettuce to pick soon, and still lots of parsnip and leeks underground, but just about everything else is out of the beds now.  I planted some sugar snap peas before Labor Day as an experiment.  The seedlings started off very slowly in September when we had about two weeks of continuous cloud cover, then put on a growth spurt in October.  They’re chest high and set flowers but there’s a small problem – no bees this time of year – so no edible peas.  (My vegetables are pollinated by the native bumblebees).   A novelty item. 

It’s a good time to highlight some vegetable varieties that performed really well here, and some of the ones that did not.  Keep in mind that a variety that performs well in this climate and soil may not do as well in another garden.  But I think that some varieties are just plain better than others.  Here’s a few that have worked well for me.

Broccoli:  Major (F1) is a variety of broccoli that I grew for the first time this year.  And yes I’ve gone on about this variety in earlier post.  It’s early, about 10 days earlier than Gypsy, and appears to tolerate heat and cold well.  It does not get tall, only about one foot high, so it won’t shade adjacent brassicas.  It produces a nice-size firm head on a compact plant and the flavor is the best of any variety I’ve tried.   This picture was taken in mid-June

Kohlrabi:  For comparison I grew two varieties side by side in four plantings.  One variety, Early White Vienna, is an old standby often seen in the seed racks at hardware stores.  The other variety is Grand Duke, an F1 hybrid from Pinetree seeds.  Both are supposed to mature in 50 days.  I found that Grand Duke was consistenly 7 to 9 days earlier, formed a larger bulb, and was less woody.  No contest, Grand Duke was the clear winner.
Early Cabbage:  Normally I plant Gonzales cabbage, but the two year old seeds did not germinate this year.  So I had to go to Lowe’s and buy a Burpee’s variety called Earliana.  The size and maturity times were similar for the two varieties, but for flavor there’s no comparison.  The Gonzalez cabbage is by far the better tasting cabbage.   I’ll order more seeds this winter.
Snap beans:  I grew several  varieties of bush beans this year:  Dragon Langerie, a purple striped heirloom wax bean; Bush Roma;  Provider; and a half bush/half pole variety called State ½ Runner.  The State ½ Runner just wasn’t very good.  The beans went very quickly from a tender young bean to a tough woody bean which is not what you want in a snap bean.  Of the other beans I liked Provider the best – great beanie flavor and productive for a long time.   The other bush beans were also very good.
Tomatoes:  There’s room for two tomato cages in the beds and this year I planted heirlooms in both cages:  Brandywine and German Queen.  The Brandywine does have a superb flavor.  Neither variety lasted into the fall, succumbing to diseases.  Both varieties had lots of blemishes and cracking, with a lot of wasted fruit.  Next year I’m going back to a modern F1 variety that works for me – Supersonic.  I buy the seedlings at a greenhouse in Bloomington and it’s a variety that has produced really well for me with no disease problems.  It also has a very good flavor, not as good as the Brandywine but close.  I may try Cherokee purple in the remaining cage since I know the Supersonic will produce enough to supply me with tomatoes.
Cucurbits:  The cucumbers succumbed to bacterial wilt this summer, as well as the Acorn and summer squash.  I’ve grown Diva cucumbers the last three years and they produce an excellent cuke.  They are parthenocarpic all-female plants.  I’m not going to grow the Sunburst pattypan squash again.  It’s striking in appearance, but it tends to produce a glut of squash all at once and then has to recover.  That may be a good trait for a commercial grower but not for a home gardener.  I’m still looking for a compact summer squash with good flavor.  Sure the seed catalogues claim a squash is compact, bur then it grows to six feet across and makes enough squash for an army.  This year I’m ordering Cocozelle from Pinetree, an older Italian variety that they claim can be put in a planter, which probably means it may only reach five feet in diameter.
The Pinetree catalogue showed up a few days ago.  I’m working on next years order already.  And Blogger still changes fonts on a whim.   


kitsapFG said...

Thanks for the nice recap of your variety comparisons. I noted the broccoli variety as I would like to give that one a try if I can source the seeds.

Mary Hysong said...

Nice looking head of broccoli; You should have peas regardless of bees; they are self pollinating and usually pollinate before the flower is fully open.

Urban Gardens said...

I was born in SW Indiana, but have lived in Dayton Ohio most of my life. I still have a lot of relatives that live near Evansville, Boonville and Dale. Thank you for sharing your experiences with your garden.


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