Sunday, August 30, 2009

2009 Veg Garden Notes

Well, the last weekend of August is upon us. We had a huge thunderstorm last night, with about five minutes of "nickel-sized hail", as the weather warning system calls it. I went out before the storm closed in and picked everything that looked ready. You never really know here if storms will actually drop any moisture, or if they'll just blow over. But heavy rain doesn't do raspberries any good, so it was worth getting those.

This morning I went out to check on things. I took some pictures of the squash and rhubarb to show the holes made by the hail. But I was happy to see the tomatoes were in better shape than I expected. Some of the riper exposed fruit had obvious hailstone marks, but otherwise no real damage. So I picked those. I think one thing I'll be doing today is making tomato sauce from the over-ripe tomatoes we haven't been able to eat. I've been giving some away, but without dance class I don't have as many vic- uh, friends ;) to give them to.

Of the 7 tomato varieties I planted, I have been most surprised by the early season one, Legend. I wasn't happy with Early Girl at all last year, but Legend has been great. A lot of good-sized fruit, good taste, and sturdy plants that don't go crazy with long leggy growth. I'll be growing Legend again.

Costoluto Genovese is one of the sprawlers. Lots of fruit and very pretty. Good taste too. But if I grow it again, it's going in one of the taller bigger wire frames. The small one I used is completely overwhelmed.

I am much happier with the purple-fruited Paul Robeson than I was with the purple one I grew last year, Cherokee Purple. The fruit is bigger, tastes better, and the plant is sturdy and upright. It was the next one to fruit after Legend.

I tried the Landis Valley strain of red Brandywine this year, from Tomato Growers. The plants are similar in size to Paul R. The fruit is very good tasting, but it hasn't really produced as much as I hoped. So I'm not sure about this one. I might try another strain of Brandywine, or another kind, maybe Rose, next year. Both this one and Paul R. need the bigger wire frame.

Virginia Sweets, the yellow-and-red-streaked fruit, is amazing! I love everything about it. The fruit is beautiful, tastes wonderful, and some of them are HUGE! I have one right now that's at least 2-3 lbs, with another on the way. This plant definitely needs the larger wire frame. It truly is a later-ripening variety, but it's worth the wait.

Of the two grape tomatoes I've grown, I definitely prefer Sprite to Juliette. The fruits are smaller and I like the taste better. I'm pretty sure they're not the kind you buy in the store (which I love), but they're closer. I may try Sprite again next year, with another small one. One advantage of Sprite is the smaller sized plant. Only a few feet tall, and although it sprawls it's on a smaller scale so it hasn't been a problem.

The other small-fruit type was Ceylon. It's an unusual shape for a small fruit, and the catalogue said it tasted great, so I fell for it. It does taste good, and it's prolific. But I'm not happy with the large blossom-end ring and the deep stem. I don't like eating the hard white area around the stem, so I'm not as likely to just pop a whole Ceylon tomato in my mouth, like I am with Sprite. The plants aren't tall, but they sprawl a lot. Not really structured for a wire frame either, so I'm not sure I'll grow it again.

I tried a different variety of soybean (for eating while green) this year, and they were much nicer. More prolific and more beans over a longer season. So those are a keeper.

The peppers I'm not as happy with. The Marconi Italian type I grew last year were great! Took them a long time to ripen but it was worth it. I didn't grow an Italian type this year, but that's ok.

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