Thursday, September 19, 2013

A year end garden review...

I am a firm believer in looking back before moving forward.  I am getting towards the end of my vegetable garden harvest and now is the time to review successes and failures while they are still fresh in my mind.
First, I'll start with the garden design.  The new outdoor beds worked much better than I had anticipated.  Despite several hailstorms the plants continued to produce.  There are a few changes I would like to make.  One is adding a cold frame at the end for the pumpkins.   A few were lost to an early hailstorm.  On a positive note it has been very beneficial having pumpkins surrounding the garden, because the deer avoid the leaves.  Another change is I need to make a better path along the back, so I can pick my cucumbers without doing a balancing act. 
Later in the summer I added a wheel gate and that has made my little outdoor bed complete.  Someday I would like to add one more outdoor tier.  On the inside of the greenhouse I rotated my tomatoes and kicked the pumpkins out.  The only change I would make inside are the containers I use for growing plants on the bench. 
One of my biggest successes has been the lemon cucumber.  I love that you can just pick and eat them.  I also enjoy slicing them up and putting them in water.  The water just tastes fresher.  I also made some refrigerator pickles that were delicious.  The plants were very productive.  I highly recommend giving lemon cucumbers a try.

Another cucumber I enjoyed, was the little tiny Mexican Sour Gherkins.  I wish I had planted more in a more accessible spot.  Next time I will try planting a few in the wash bin in front of the greenhouse.  They are perfect for salads.  That is if you can get from the garden to the house without eating them.   I will also try a few in the greenhouse.  I don't believe you could have too many of these little guys growing.

With three years of tomatoes under my belt, this is what I've decided.  I love Zebra Cherry Hybrid and Gary Ibsen's Sasha Altai.  The Altai seeds I won from High Altitude Gardens last year and am forever grateful, because they were easy to grow and delicious.  I was disappointed with my Early Cherry Cherry Tomato as they kept cracking.  I also wasn't impressed with my store bought Patio and Red Grape.  The Red Grape ended up being the size of peas.  Next year I'm going to give large tomatoes a chance. 

I was overjoyed with my green peppers.  We ate stuffed peppers several times.  This is the first time I planted them directly into the ground of my greenhouse and that proved to be more productive.  I will plant more green peppers next year.  Hopefully, next year I will be able to pick a peck of peppers.  I won't pickle them:)

I was also pleasantly surprised with the Dill's Atlantic Giant pumpkin.  It was slow out of the gate, but is making it up in the home stretch.  Already the two I have are bigger than any other pumpkin I've ever grown.  Thumbs up on these guys.   Hopefully, this fall you will see a giant pumpkin in my fall porch display.
One more success was my Burpee Sweet Corn Early Choice Hybrid.  I really didn't think I could grow sweet corn at this altitude, but decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a go.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Not only did my corn grow and pollinate, but my husband and I enjoyed several tasty meals.
I don't even want to discuss the jalapenos.  I had it in my head that I wanted jalapeno poppers.  I hate hot and spicy foods, but my friend Jody made some poppers for me once,  They were incredible, so I was determined to try.  Last year I had no luck, but this year I grew 6 plants from seed.  I also planted them in the ground in the greenhouse.  Again things planted in the ground do better.  I have jalapenos coming out of my ears.  I was so excited to make poppers.  Jody sent me her recipe and I was ready.  Oh my, that didn't work.  Even after roasting for an hour they were so hot even my jalapeno popping husband threw in the towel.  That wasn't the end of the story.  I didn't realize the juice from the jalapenos would burn your hands.  For two days I suffered.  I tried every remedy I could pin or Google, to no avail.   Jalapenos will be found under the label of failure.   

Another unsuccessful plant was the Tigger Melon.  So cute and yet so yucky tasting.  Sorry I couldn't think of anything more descriptive than yucky.  I have one more out there and I will wait longer to see if the next one tastes better.  If not I am sorely disappointed.  Too bad, because they are super cute.

Well, that is my gardening story and I'm sticking to it.  Please share any vegetables that were surprisingly successful or are tried and true favorites.  I'm always looking for new things to incorporate.  Plus, part of the fun of blogging is sharing ideas.  Happy gardening.


  1. The Beef Steak variety of tomatoes has been a really good producer for me this year. They take a while, but are well worth it for size and flavor. Lots of peppers here this year. I have one giant pumpkin that only just set on a week or so ago and is growing like crazy. The other pumpkins (sugar?) just didn't set. Great carrots -- Danvers half-long. I always love my bushy orange marigolds this time of year. Your garden was fun to watch!

  2. Very cool wheel gate .
    I am definitely going to try growing some of the Mexican cukes ?? next year !

  3. What, no zucchini? Even just one plant?

  4. you've got a nice garden..its very impressive, i've got a garden but sometimes i got afraid because sometimes their is a beehive on the trees and i am afraid of it..

    exterminator pittsburgh

  5. WOW you have had so much success you can see your love of gardening shining through.I am sorry you had pepper burn it is a nasty thing, I do not eat nor pick them I seen that burn before.
    I have had no luck with my garden this year more from neglect than anything else my Kale is doing wonderful and that I did not even plant it just keeps coming back all by itself every year I have heard that is unusual but it is my belief that something or someone knows we need at least some kind of fresh greens in my garden as I tend to this hectic busy life I find myself in this summer.
    Congratulations on a wonderful year of garden love. Hug B

  6. Hi Bonnie, I have grown many varieties of tomatoes over the years. This year, only two: Heirloom 'Rose' (bought seeds from Seed Savers online), and 'Jetstar.' Both are lovely to look at and taste great! They also produce prolifically, at least they do here in Iowa where we have hot summers.

  7. Some cooks put oil on their hands when working over hot peppers. I use gloves for a lot and still have to watch what I touch afterwards.

  8. I had exactly the same experience with chillies - nothing cooled my hands - now I don't go near them

  9. Very impressive garden considering all the "critters" you have to contend with. Your peppers look so good and it makes me want to make stuffed ones tonight too. XOXO

  10. You had many success this year! I will try the yellow cucumber next year, I have seen the plants in the nursery but never tried them. Thanks for posting that and giving all your reviews. One tomato I love is Goliath, I planted that one this year and boy it is a winner.

    I love your garden with the added 'junk' and love the new wheel gate. I shop garage and estate sales each month and am always looking for ideas for my garden and beds.

    You might try growing poblano or Anaheim chili next year and just picking them at the small stage. They will be mush more mild than the jalapeno.

  11. Hi Bonnie, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  12. A very nice and detailed wrap-up Bonnie -- sorry the Tigger melons were yucky. I guess you just never know until you try. Have a wonderful week!

  13. Your garden looks wonderful! Your comment that planting pumpkins around the edge of the garden kept the deer away makes me want to try doing the same thing with my garden next year. I have LOTS of problems with deer. Sheryl (A Hundred Years Ago)


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