I’m back again with the second part of my annual garden review. In my last post I talked about the above average amount of rainfall we received this year. In 2020 so far we have received 54 inches of rain, with more forecast for the coming days. Greens always seem to do well for me when there is ample moisture, and that was certainly true in 2020. It has been a great year for collard greens, and the seedlings I set out in late July have matured into large plants. Heirlooms like White Mountain Cabbage and Jernigan’s Yellow Cabbage made large tender leaves, while the leaves of Alabama Blue and Ole Timey Blue are colored with purplish-blue stems and veins. The collards have kept us well supplied with greens this fall, and as of late December the plants are hanging on despite a few cold nights here.
Kale is another of our favorite greens, and I grow it both outside and in the winter greenhouse. I grow a number of different varieties, from hybrid types like Winterbor and Prizm to open-pollinated ones like Groninger Blue Collard Kale, White Russian and Tuscan Baby Leaf.
It wasn’t the greatest year for peppers here, though the hot ones performed better than the sweet ones. I dry hot peppers for chile powder and gochugaru powder for kimchi, and ferment them for turning into hot sauce. I tend to grow hot peppers with mild heat levels, and Red Ember, Senorita and Biggie Chile are some of my favorites for fresh use and for hot sauces. Amazing 2 is a well-named hybrid Korean pepper that makes a mild and colorful gochugaru powder for kimchi. Cornito Rosso and Corito Giallo are two of my favorite hybrid sweet peppers, while the heirloom Jimmy Nardello is always one of the earliest sweet peppers to ripen for me.
I also grow quite a few of the baccatum peppers like Aji Angelo, Aji Golden and Malawi Piquante. Aji Rico is a 2017 AAS Winner that is one of the earliest of the baccatums to ripen in our garden. Aji Delight is one of my new favorites, and this one has no heat at all but retains the fruity flavor of most other Aji peppers.
Once again, it wasn’t a great year for tomatoes here, though the small-fruited ones did quite well. The first slicing tomatoes of 2020 came from my old standby Better Boy, while the second slicing tomato to ripen was the 2020 AAS Winner Galahad. I plan on growing both again in 2021.
I had good results from the smaller tomatoes like Sun Sugar, Jasper, Amy’s Apricot, Midnight Snack and Sunpeach. We use these fresh, plus I dry and roast them for use year-round.
The paste tomatoes also did reasonably well, and I got enough of them to make several batches of sauce for the freezer as well as a batch of ketchup to can. Juliet is one of my favorite tomatoes, and Granadero is another vining type paste tomato that did well in 2020.
For the last few years, I have had good luck growing purple sprouting broccoli in the winter greenhouse. Last year I also had good luck with growing the Burgundy variety in the open garden. I grew it for both a spring and fall crop, and it did quite well both times. Burgundy doesn’t need the long growing season that most of the traditional purple sprouting broccoli varieties require, and mine was ready about 50 days after setting out transplants in spring. It made a generous amount of side shoots after the main head was cut.
I’ll close this recap with one of my favorite fruits. Our blueberry bushes gave us 19 pounds of berries in 2020. My wife is in charge of those harvests, and she likes to say she knew every berry personally! We eat them while they’re fresh, and freeze the rest for use throughout the year. Like many other fruits and vegetables, the homegrown blueberries seem have a lot more flavor than ones we buy. They are rarely bothered by pests here, though birds always manage to steal a few.
I hope you have enjoyed this review of some of the veggies and fruit we grew here in 2020. I’ll be back soon with more adventures from HA, including my plans for the garden in 2021.