Tomatoes and Onions and Peppers, Oh My!

Overall, my vegetable garden has suffered from my lack of attention this year. Here's how it went.

It's run through the height of tomato production this year, but there's still a few good weeks left. The very best tomatoes were Sweet 100s, which I planted first from a nursery start, pretty early in the season. These have been consistently good in my garden. I've always preferred cherry tomatoes for eating which makes my second favorite this year a slight surprise - it's Green Zebra, an heirloom variety with orange and green zebra stripes that I started from seed about the time I planted the Sweet 100 start. This was planned in order to phase the arrival of my tomatoes over the summer and not peak too soon or all at once. I think I'll do that again, but I don't feel that it was incredibly successful, since growth depends primarily on degree days (days when it's above a certain critical temperature), and once in the ground all the plants see the same number of degree days. Due to cool weather, an early start can idle for quite a while before really getting going - just at the same time as the newly sprouted seeds are ready to transfer into the ground. The effective growth difference at that point is only two weeks or so.

Third place this year was the Sun Gold, which I raved about last year. Why the drop in taste? These are a commercial variety and ought to be consistent from year to year. I started this one from seed as well. Despite my high expectations, they were neither as prolific nor as delicious as last year.

Finally, I had a couple San Marzano tomato plants started from seed well after the others had gotten under way. This is a plum tomato from Italy (the commercial seed pack was hand carried across the Atlantic) which we mostly find as canned tomatoes in the supermarket on account of their thin and easily damaged skins. I had high hopes for this tomato, but as of now the several plants haven't really had a successful crop. One problem has been that I had two of four plants in plastic containers, which baked in the sun while I was away, leading to blossom end rot on their limited production. The two others in the ground are not in maximally favorable spots, but that really shouldn't inhibit them to the degree that I've seen. They seem to be growing better now, so perhaps they prefer a late season bloomer. The one or two that I have tasted were really promising.

Onions didn't do so well in my garden. I had two varieties: a small Italian and a more normal yellow variety. They grew, but perhaps didn't get enough water or have rich enough soil to grow well. They tended to be stepped upon while moving about the garden. I think there's one large onion left.

I grew some Anaheim chili peppers and some Italian bell peppers with a shape that I've never seen before - sort of a hoop skirt like shape; at least that's what the package illustration looked like. So far the Italian bells haven't bloomed, but they look like they're getting ready for a late summer growth spurt. The Anaheim chilies I left on the plants until they were red and sweet - not a hint of hot. As a preparation, I've sliced some up the side, de-seeeded and de-veined, added a slice of mild cheese and grilled these. An early taste of a green Anaheim chili had me convinced these were going to be hot, but it turned out not to be the case for the late harvest fruits.

My berries suffered from low production due to our lack of rain. I didn't water them until too late. I've been I'm hoping that next year will be a bumper crop since I've paid more attention to top surface mulching over the whole garden and specifically to watering the berries as the new canes grow in.

Despite my green thumb shortcomings, I'm trying to figure out how I can grow more next year. Need more space.

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