Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Summer's Biggest Hits

"Big Rainbow"
This year I want to make a better effort to save the seeds for the successful varieties I want to grow again next year.  It’s also the time of year that the summer failures transform into lessons learned and next year’s compost. 

Two of the heirloom tomatoes that I grew this year are on my list for seed saving: The “Riesentraube” and “Big Rainbow.”

The Reisentraube, which came from Hook Mountain Growers,  is a large red cherry, with a tiny point at the bottom.    Hard to explain exactly why, but it doesn’t taste like a cherry tomato at all  - more like a beefsteak.   It was super prolific and is still producing!

I love the surprise of cutting into these gorgeous “Big Rainbow” tomatoes. 

It can be hard to tell when they’re ripe, because they’re often green on top and throughout.  When the bottoms are red, they’re usually ripe, and you can also tell by touch.   They’re sometimes called “tie dye” tomatoes.

This was my favorite summer squash this year -  Costata Romanesco, a seedling given to me by a generous soul in our community plot.  It was mild and milky inside and looked beautiful when sliced.

I grew “Rattail” radishes for the first time this year. 
This is a variety that was grown mainly for it’s pods, which have a radishy flavor and bite, and are fun to add to salads - I pickled some of them! The flowers were sweet - a beautiful color and attracted attention of bees and other admirers.

The “Bright Lights” swiss chard did really well until August when it got buggy.  I blanched and froze a couple of pounds of it for winter.

The nice thing about "Purple Ruffles" basil is that it didn’t bolt and flower like the Genovese- at least not yet! 

Pineapple Mint went a bit crazy in the community garden plot.  I cut it back many times.   The flavor is perfect in iced tea and lemonade.  Love the look of it in bouquets too.

In my backyard I got my first concord grape harvest – maybe a little over a pound of them from this 5-year old vine that has endured many abuses and relocations.  I do hope that it’s finally found a home. 

My little fig tree on the deck gave me about 30 figs.  I have another one growing on the side of the house with lots of foliage but very few figs – they’re still ripening. 

My new favorite weed is Wild Quinine.  It’s blooming everywhere now and I’ve decided to cultivate it in my flower patch because it's one of the few wildflowers that hasn't been chomped on.  The flowers are delicate with little spikes and it smells wonderful.  Lots of medicinal uses.

A sunny third plot graciously provided by a friend with extra space enabled me to grow some cantaloupe, watermelons and squash – things I would never have had space for in the community garden. (They surely wouldn’t have produced in my shady backyard.)  I also planted zucchini, yellow squash and cucumbers there.  The “Sugar Baby” watermelon was most successful.
The vines seemed to be resistant to the squash bugs, too.   Butternut squash also did very well there.  One of our traditional Thanksgiving dishes is a Butternut Squash Risotto.  It's curing now and I’ll be prepping and freezing it for the November feast.

What plants did best in your garden this year?


Pam J. said...

Beautiful tomatoes! I'm very interested in your wild quinine. I have something growing around my house that I always thought was boneset. Like you, I decided to encourage it because I live in a herd of deer and boneset is one thing they won't eat. But now I'm wondering if what I'm calling boneset is actually wild quinine. Here's a picture of my "boneset." ( What do you think?

JGH said...

Yes, it does look like Boneset, Pam. Maybe that's what it is. The quinine was ID'd for me by someone in the UK, and I know the common names are sometimes different there, but the botanical names for boneset and quinine are different. I think it looks more like boneset than the pictures of wild quinine I see on the internet. Well, whatever it is, I'm keeping it:)

Anonymous said...

Well I don't have a garden,,,too many wild animals in the wooods in the back yard....even bears.
I did go to italy. I feasted in eggplants and the big roaster peppers. I had my tongue hanging for figs but they come up in late Aug. Oh I love eating them when the fig ....instead of being straight out on the tree, finally bends down and is as juicy as can be. DELICIOUS !!!!god bless you. Sm

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nesting melly said...

Wow! What a great harvest this year! Your tomatoes are gorgeous. And you're so lucky to have gotten figs, too.

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Interesting tomato variety you grow this year! This month seems you get a lot of harvest from your garden. Yeah for melon!