Once again it’s time for my annual review of what did well in the garden, and what didn’t. In 2017 we had a bumper crop of sweet potatoes and I called it the Year of the Sweet Potato. This time I am calling 2018 the Year of Too Much Rain. We got a whopping 64 inches in total, and it was one of the wettest years I can ever remember. To put it in perspective, the normal for our area is around 40 inches annually. We had right at 10 inches of rain in June, which drowned a lot of the summer seedlings and over 8 inches in September which impacted the fall veggies. The sweet potatoes did do well again this year, and I managed to get them dug in between showers and before freezing rain came. Ginseng and Murasaki were two new varieties I tried that did quite well, and they will be back again this year.
Many of the bush squash plants suffered from stem rot due to wet conditions. The lone plant of Tempest held up well despite all the rain, and my wife and I both declared it is the best tasting yellow squash we have ever eaten. This squash from Johnny’s Selected Seeds was specifically bred to have better flavor, and has a higher percentage of starches and dry matter than most summer squashes. In the below photo you can see it with another of my favorite great-tasting squashes, the heirloom White Scallop.
I had good luck with many of the vining squash last year, at least the ones that were trellised and up off the ground. The hybrid Turkeyneck was an outstanding performer, and alone gave us over 140 pounds of the 206 pounds of winter squash we harvested in 2018. It has a great flavor too, and we’ve been enjoying it in both sweet and savory dishes. The seeds for this one came from NE Seeds.
The beans did well too last year, both the pole varieties and the bush ones. The pole beans really seemed to thrive with all the rain, and all told we harvested 50 pounds of them. That was enough to keep us well supplied for fresh eating and for freezing. The Appalachian heirloom beans are my new favorites, and Robe Mountain is an early bearing flat-podded “greasy” bean with great flavor.
I also had good luck once again with a fall planting of bush beans. Derby and Jade 2 both did well then and I plan to grow them again. I’ve been growing Derby for many years now, and this 1990 AAS Winner never fails to produce lots of tender pots for me regardless of the weather.
Many of the fall crops struggled though with a double whammy of rain and warmer than usual weather. We really didn’t have much of an autumn, with temps staying hot throughout October then suddenly turning winter-like in November. The regular cabbage was mostly a bust, but the sometimes finicky Napa cabbages actually did better. Go figure! It was a good thing too because they gave me enough to make lots of kimchi.
The kohlrabi also did well last year. We got 44 pounds of it from a spring and a fall planting, which was nowhere near 2017’s epic 82 pounds but still a lot of kohlrabi. Kossak remains my favorite large kohlrabi for fermenting, and they usually get over a pound each for me here without getting tough or woody inside.
It was a decent year for tomatoes here. Not the most productive year ever, but we did get 142 pounds of them. The paste tomatoes and cherry types did the best, while many of the slicing types struggled. I used the paste types to make an assortment of sauces, plus a couple of batches of homemade ketchup.
Many of the slicing tomatoes had issues with fruit rot and poor fruit set, but the Chef’s Choice series did well for me. Chef’s Choice Orange is my favorite orange tomato, and once again it did not disappoint. It was the star on many a sandwich, as well as those we sliced up and ate on the side.
It was a decent year for peppers and eggplant too. I managed to bring in 66 pounds of peppers and 20 pounds of eggplant, which kept us well supplied with many for fresh eating as well as peppers for preserving. I love the guajillo peppers for drying and turning into chile powder, and Minero is a hybrid guajillo that is hard to beat.
Aji Angelo is one of my favorite and most used hot peppers, and it did well again last year. I used them mostly for making fermented hot sauces, where the fruity flavor and mild heat really shine.
The large fruited eggplant did well as did the smaller Fairy Tale and Patio Baby. I grew the white skinned Clara for the first time in 2018 and it was a real winner with mild tasting flesh and few seeds. Dancer is one that always does well for me too, and it has a mild white flesh much like Clara but with a pinkish purple skin.
Asparagus is one perennial crop that never seems to fail for us here. Last year we got 24 pounds of it, which was the same amount we got in 2017. Our beds are now 10 years old, and they have paid for themselves many times over. We harvest for about 8 weeks, eat asparagus at every opportunity, then we won’t eat it again until the following spring.
I hope you have enjoyed this review of some of the veggies and herbs we grew here in 2018. I’ll be back soon with more adventures from HA.