Every year I usually do an annual end-of-year review of what did well in the garden, and what didn’t. Once again I am of jumping the gun to give a review of some of my current favorites that I have been harvesting and eating in 2022. And once again, it’s a tomato that gets first mention. Tomatoes are the most popular and most widely planted vegetable by home gardeners here in the U.S. but they aren’t always easy to grow. Last year was a great year for tomatoes here, but rainy weather has caused a lot of issues this year with splitting and rot. With that in mind I won’t necessarily pass final judgment just yet on all the new (to me) varieties. There have been a couple of standouts though.
Purple Zebra is a 2022 AAS Winner, and so far has been a star of this year’s crop when it comes to flavor. The fruits are billiard ball sized with stripes on the outside and deep purple flesh on the inside. The flesh is rich and full-flavored, with a good blend of acid and sweet tastes. My wife and I enjoyed eating every one we got this year, and I look forward to growing it again next year when hopefully the conditions will be more favorable for tomatoes.
Another tomato I’m growing for the first time is Chef’s Choice Purple. I’ve grown most of the varieties in the Chef’s Choice series before, but it was my first time growing this one. It is supposed to make 9 to 10 ounces fruits on indeterminate vines, but the first one I harvested weighed over a pound!
Most of the tomatoes wound up in the 10-11 ounce range, which I think is a great size for sandwiches and other uses. The flesh is meaty and sweet, and reminiscent of the heirloom Cherokee Purple tomato I have grown in the past. My wife and I both love it, and I look forward to growing it again too.
Another new favorite here in 2022 is the Starry Night squash. According to Johnny’s Selected Seeds, the breeder, Starry Night is an acorn squash that is supposed to have better keeping qualities than the usual varieties. The ones I harvested averaged a bit over a pound each, and have thick flesh with a hard outer skin and a mild flavor when roasted. My plant was loaded with squash this year, and it looks like a good addition to our lineup of winter squash. If they keep longer that will be a big bonus too, since acorn types don’t usually store well for long periods and we are rushing to use them first.
Icicle eggplant is another 2022 AAS Winner, and I’m growing this 2022 AAS Winner both in-ground and in Smart Pots. The ones in the Smart Pots have been a bit more productive than the one planted in-ground, and quite a bit earlier since I got them going early. The white skinned and white fleshed fruits are large and mild tasting.
I also grew AAS Winners Fairy Tale and Gretel in containers, and along with Icicle they kept us well supplied with tasty eggplant early in the season. All three are favorites here now, and I plan to grow them all again next year.
Another new eggplant variety I trialed this year is called Annina. It is a purple-striped Italian type with fruits that are spineless, which makes harvesting less painful. If you’ve ever been spiked by an eggplant, you’ll know what I mean when I say it hurts! My one plant was very productive, and we have enjoyed eating the fruits in a variety of dishes. I will grow it again next year for sure.
Jacaranda is a broccoli that makes large purple heads 50 days after transplanting out. It’s my first time growing it out in the vegetable garden, and so far I am impressed. This variety is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower, and the heads I got were nicely formed, with a great purplish green color. I roasted some, and used a bit of it raw in a salad and it was tasty and tender prepared both ways. It will make a good addition to our lineup of brassicas here.
Last but not least, I’m growing Mellow Star shishito pepper again after a few years’ absence. Unlike most shishito peppers which can sometimes have mild to moderate heat, Mellow Star is always mild tasting. My one plant has been super productive, and I’ve gotten almost three pounds of the thin-walled fruit so far.
I’ve been letting some of them ripen and using them that way. So far I have roasted them, and pickled some of both the green and ripe ones. I’ve also prepared them a more traditional way, blistering them in a bit of hot oil in a skillet. They have been tasty every way I’ve used them, and this one has earned a spot in the garden next year as well.
That’s all for now. I hope you have enjoyed this review of some of my favorite things from the garden in 2022. I’ll be back soon with more adventures from Happy Acres!.