Now is good time for me to review the performance of some of the new vegetable plants I tried this year, while it’s all still fresh in my mind. Some of the new-for-2009 standouts include Gourmet and Snapper bell peppers and Pingtung Long eggplants. The Snapper peppers were huge, and good at both the green and red-ripe stages. Gourmet was a nice deep orange color when ripe and tasted great grilled or raw. Johnny’s has the seed for both peppers. Pingtung Long was a bright neon purple long eggplant with tender snow-white flesh and starred in many stir-fried dishes. It will be back in 2010 for sure.
Another great pepper new to us was Carmen. It’s a 2006 AAS winner and it was absolutely our best tasting pepper, period. We gave it the Happy Acres two-forks-up award. Wait until the peppers are red-ripe for best flavor then cut them in half and slap them on a hot grill for 8-10 minutes until they get a nice charred look. Heavenly!
It was such a horrible year for growing tomatoes that it’s hard to draw any conclusions from this years’ trials. The heirloom Druzba was prolific enough to warrant more testing next year, and Big Mama paste tomato was one that lived up to the catalog description. The other newbies were hard to judge. I’ll have to wait and decide who gets a spot in the garden next year. I’ll try and be kinder than usual, since usually it’s “produce or you’re outta here”.
One old favorite tomato variety that did reasonably well in this challenging year was Juliet. It’s a medium sized plum tomato and 1999 AAS winner. It is our favorite tomato for drying. This year we also dried Princepe Borghese, Golden Rave, Red Grape and Tomaccio. The Tomaccio plant was a gift from my MG friend Jim, who grew one of my Juliet seedlings this year for trial. He also rates Juliet as a keeper. The fresh Juliet fruits are nice for salads when one wants a little more substance than a cherry tomato. In a normal year the vines are loaded with tomatoes, this year somewhat less so.
We’re just now getting the first taste of Apollo broccoli. It is a broccolini-wanna-be, and so far it looks promising. It has long, tender shoots that are very mild and tasty. I will definitely grow it again. It came from Territorial Seed. I also grew Deadon savoy cabbage, which is just now heading up. It is beautiful if nothing else. The slugs don’t seem to bother it as much as the other cabbages, although spreading Sluggo around on the ground surely helps.
One other new veggie that deserves mention is Multy leaf lettuce. It’s one of a new class of lettuces that feature serrated leaves that are easy to prepare for a salad with a single cut. I grew it all summer long here, and the leaves were tasty and sturdy, yet tender. It’s ornamental as well, which is an added bonus. I read about it last year in an article in Organic Gardening magazine. Kitchen Garden Seeds had the seeds this year.