Monday, December 28, 2009

Grading the Garden 09

Gawrsh its been a long time since I’ve done a gardening post. I kinda put the growing things aside during the holidays, but now that the seed catalogs are arriving, it’s time to start thinking about putting in an order. But before I do that, I’m looking at what I planted this past year in my zone 6 vegetable garden and trying to decide what’s worth repeating. Here’s a partial list, with grades, of what I grew this year. (BTW, if you are new to my blog, you may not know that this past year’s “Purple Paisley” garden was inspired by Prince, who “introduced” my husband and I.)


Lettuce: Red Rosie(romaine) A+

Lettuce: Mascara- A+

Lettuce: Johnny’s Encore Mix - A

Beets: Chiogga - D – have not pulled up anything yet worth eating, but haven’t given up on them.

Snap peas: Sugar Ann - C – did not yield nearly as well as the climbers. Plus, Miss B. got to them.

Carrots: Purple Rain – B- beautiful and fun to grow, although stubby.

Carrots: Danvers - C – stubby, probably due to shallow bed

Arugula: Roquette - D – wrong variety, planted to late

Spinach and Kale: F- Both mysteriously disappeared (sob!) from this bed, which is known to have slugs. I may try these on the deck as well.

With the exception of the bush peas, I will be growing all of these crops again, plus swiss chard and kale. I need a new variety of arugula to try. I’ll be growing the climbing peas on a trellis on my deck like in previous years.

Tomato: Celebrity - A

Tomato: Purple cherokee - A

Tomato: Vintage Wine – A-

Tomato : large husky red - B

Tomato: Sweet 100- A

Tomato-: Italian Tree – B

Tomato : Ponderosa – B

Tomato-: Jet Star - B

Red Pepper: Carmen - C

Green Pepper: Giant Jalapeno – B

Purple peppers: Lilac – B

Broccoli: F- eaten by slugs, didn’t produce flowers.

Edamame: Green Envy (this was fun to try, but you really need a large space to get a good yield. I'll probably plant the leftover seeds I have in the school courtyard.)

I’m going to limit myself to heirloom varieties of tomatos this year, and maybe a few hybrids that I already have seeds for. I’m moving the broccoli onto my deck to keep the slugs out of it and also because I’ve decided I really like the way it looks (I tried some on my deck in an earthbox during the late part of the season and it did very well and only just wilted due to frost). 

Cucumber: Organic – A

Cucumber: Seedless - B

Zucchini Squash: Cashflow – A

Canteloupe – Minnesota Midget - C- planted too late but managed to produce a few

Garlic TBD – planted in October

Potatoes – TBD –Remember my potato experiment? Nothing yet.

Snake Gourds A – fun. Definitiely want to experiment with more gourds.

I’ll be growing all of these again except for canteloupe, which isn’t space efficient enough for me. The snake gourds were planted on the deck – I may try the gourds on my arbor this year instead.   I'm also going to try some yellow and winter squashes.


Basil: Purple – B – not as pest resistant as the other varieties.

Basil: Italian - A

Lemon Verbena: A

Catmint: B

Lavendar – C

Dill – D for died

Vietnamese Cilantro – A

Flat Giant Parseley – A

Sage (reg and purple) –A

Lemon Thyme - A

Chives – TBD

Marjoram – TBD

I’ve decided to take out both the lemon verbena and the anise hyssop and put them somewhere else because I haven’t used them at all for cooking. In this bed I really want to focus on things I use and cook with frequently. I guess I just don’t like sage all that much. I thought I’d be using it more for the holidays, but it’s still uncut. I guess I don’t even like basil that much –it’s always so strong and overpowering. I used mostly mint, parseley, oregano, cilantro and the lemon thyme this year. Would like to grow more mint.


Milkweed: Tropical – A – slow to get started but spectacular and long-blooming when they came around.

Allium: Purple Sensation –A - wonderful deer-resistant bulbs to plant here.

Morning Glories: Tall Mix – A, but I’m sick of them.

Scarlet Runner and Purple Hyacinth Beans – B – grown for the last two years. Fun to grow, but may give them a rest.

Sunflowers: B – I always plant a mix packet and usually end up with about 10 flowers (I suspect hungry birds). I’m happy with them but would like to increase the yield, so will try starting more in the greenhouse.

Zinnia: Candy Stripe – C – planted late, but loved ‘em when they finally got here,though small.

Sorry I wasn't real specific with some of the seed varieties and sources.   If you're interested in a particular variety, or source, let me know and I'll give you any info I can.  Or, if you have any suggestions for me for next year, I would love to hear them.  This is only my second year growing most things, so I'm eager to hear from others - in and out of zone 6 - who have had more and different experiences. What did well for you this year? Any "can't miss" cultivars I've neglected or warnings about what to stay away from?

Previous Posts
Grading Tomatoes 2008


Karen said...

Wow, I guess I didn't realize quite how extensive your veggie garden was! Going with another theme this year? The Prince one was genius. :) Don't give up on arugula! It's such an easy one for me, who plants almost nothing else from seed. Maybe it's the timing? Have to plant it early enough so it doesn't bolt right away, then plant more to have in the winter. I didn't hit those windows right this year but usually have an almost year-round crop. I usually order or buy in the co-op Territorial or Seeds of Change, both have been super reliable. Good luck with your big order!

Ronda Laveen said...

Not only do you have a wonderful array, you also have fabulous records. It makes me feel good to start thinking about planting during these cold, dark months.

I didn't know your Prince story until now.

Kiki said...

Wonderful post...a super treasure trove of many goodies and favorites of mine too! Awesome!!

tina said...

If you average all the grades together it sure looks like your garden got a passing grade. Here's hoping for all A's next year and have a good one!

Lzyjo said...

What a beautiful carrot harvest! Seems like everything did failrly well for you, not too many failure. I definitely need to start reevaluating, er evaluating my plan for next year! Are you already planning yours?

PamHMG said...

If you like the herbs you mentioned the most, I'd suggest adding chervil to the list. I have lots of extra seeds I'll give you next time I see you. You can never buy it and it's sublime with seafood and a must for french cooking. I am overwintering the vietnamese coriander you gave me - I love having it around.

AshKuku said...

Hurray & Cheers to all the fruits u have reaped.... with few sobs too.... but all is well that ends well..... What efforts & dedication!!!!!!! No wonder....

Happy Celebrations!!!!

Wishing You & your family a very happy year ahead....


k said...

I had wild good luck with tomatoes this year - okay, maybe not in some people's books, but in mine, definitely.
Where do you get Minn. Midget seeds from? I haven't fought it out with them for a few years. Maybe I should try again.

Stacey said...

What a great idea to "grade" your plants. I'm starting to plan too - I always try something new each year so this year it will be fava beans. The Cook's Garden catalog has some wonderful new things. I'm giving up on melon, it just doesn't work for me even though it's a warm weather crop. I planted snow peas last year for the first time and that was a fabulous success. I love chiogga beets and they worked well for me. Sweet potatoes were a rousing success, not sure if I'll plant again.

tut-tut said...

We have secured our patch for next year. We are the only ones still harvesting (yes, in December!) kale and chard from it. All hail gardeners! I like your list. I'll heed your recommendations.

Bangchik said...

quite an extensive grading... but i love the look of carrots.. they look sweet and jovial. ~bangchik

tomatotaster said...

I was reading your post and just wanted to see if you’ve heard of the Grow Box? I've tried it and I've had so much success. I had Spanish Onions, Cucumbers, Butternut Squash and Beets this past summer! It's actually a bit better and a whole lot less expensive! They hold about a gallon and a half more water. Check it out at
Happy Gardening!

Patti Lacy said...


As a novice gardener, I gained SO MUCH insight and laughter and gulps from reading this post and marking off my own failures (onions and carrots) and successes (tomatoes, zukes, and lettuce).

This is one fun blog!

May God grant a peaceful New Year!!


peter said...

if you are looking for more detailed information on USDA plant hardiness zones, there is an interactive USDA plant hardiness zone map at which will allow you to locate your USDA zone based on zipcode or city.

Wendy McDonagh-Valentine said...

Happy New Year to you and your family!! I've been neglecting blog land lately and am just now catching up on all of my favorite places to visit. I am beyond impressed with all of the wonderful things that you plant. I am in love with the idea of gardening but, when it comes down to it, haven't planted one in a very long time. : (

I also saw that you're keeping track of the birds that you've been seeing in your backyard. I had to tell you that I was at ShopRite in West Nyack yesterday and I saw a few people looking into the woods in the back parking lot. There were four bald eagles. Two of them were fighting over a fish that one had just pulled out of the stream. They flew away but another one landed on a branch less than 25 feet away and we had a perfect view of this incredible creature!! It gave me goose bumps!! I was told that they frequent that area so, if you shop there, take a peak. : )

It has been such a pleasure finding your blog and getting to know you better thru it and the comments that you have left on mine this past year. God bless. :)

~ Wendy

JGH said...

Karen, I want to do a "Mix" theme but don't want to use many hybrids - want to stick with heirlooms, but mixes are hard to find. May have to create my own! Yes, I think I planted the arugula too late. And thanks for the seed source recs - I'll be checking them both out.

Ronday, thanks - these cold months are perfect for dreaming and planning.

Kiki- thanks! What are you planning this year?

Ha, Tina! I didn't even think about averaging out my GPA!

Thanks, Liz, but I do wish the carrots were a bit longer. I'm just beginning to plan now for next year. The seed catalog arrival is a good reminder.

Pam, I would love to try chervil. It's one of those I don't know too much about. I'm also looking for some stevia - have you tried growing that yet?

Ash, I'm fairly new to veggie growing, but supposedly, this was one of the worst years ever. so I'm very hopeful for this year to be even better.

K, I'm pretty sure I got the Minnesota midget seeds from Baker Creek. I just got my catalog so will check and see if they're offered this year.

Stacey, I just requested that Cooks Garden catalog - looks like a good one!

Tut, I'm jealous of your kale. I neglected to plant it, then a generous friend gave me a few seedlings that didn't make it- You are so lucky to still be harvesting!!

Bangchik - the carrots were a lot of fun. They really come in lots of colors, I've discovered.

Thanks, Tomatotaster - I have two earth boxes, and would love to have more of these type of planters. Thanks for the link.

Patti, would love to hear more about your garden! Will you post about it?

Peter, thanks for the link. always helpful to have and doublecheck because it does change occasionally.

Wendy!! I visited the parking lot at Shoprite right away and took a few photos. Thanks so much for the tip - it was very exciting to see! I put the photos in my next post about it.