Once again it’s time for my annual review of what did well in the garden this year, and what didn’t. I always like to start with a recap on the weather, since local conditions certainly have a big influence on home and community gardens everywhere as well as on farmers. The amount of rainfall, temperatures, and even the wind has a big impact on yields and quality. According to my records, in 2021 we got 45 inches of rain, which is about normal for our area. In 2022 so far we have had 43 inches, which is a bit less than normal for us but not by much. Much of that rain came in the first seven months though, and since then things have been pretty dry. Our area is considered to be in a “moderate drought” condition, with a good soaking rain desperately needed. So far I have hauled in about 600 pounds of produce this year, which is 200 pounds less than last year from the same amount of gardening space.
The early rains seemed to benefit some crops more than others, and my plantings of eggplant really thrived. I harvested 56 pounds of it total, which was 15 pounds more than last year. That is a lot of eggplant too! Much of it came early from container plantings, but the in-ground plants did quite well too. Icicle is a 2022 AAS Winner, and was a standout here both in the garden and in the kitchen. The mild tasting fruits were tasty ever way we cooked them, and we had plenty of them as well.
I grew two plants each of Icicle, Fairy Tale and Gretel in large containers. All are AAS Winners, and all are do quite well grown that way. Annina is a striped Italian kind I grew for the first time, and it joined other Italian ones like Dancer, Galine and Nadia in many dishes. All of those were planted in-ground and supported by folding metal cages.
As for other summer crops, the sweet peppers were late to ripen this year, and yields were down from last year. I grew Carmen, Escamillo, Cornito Rossa, Cornito Giallo, Cornito Arancia, Sweetie Pie and the heirloom Jimmy Nardello’s this year, and all did quite well considering the weather. The quality of the peppers was excellent despite lower yields, and they teamed up with eggplant in many meals. Sheet Pan Ratatouille was featured on several occasions, and the pepper/eggplant combo also teamed up with pasta and rice more than once.
The hot peppers did quite well this year, though like the sweet varieties they were a bit later than usual to ripen. I had plenty of them for turning into hot sauce and for drying and making chile powder. Flaming Flare and Emerald Fire were two standout performers, and both are AAS winners that usually do well for me. Early Flame is another jalapeno that did well, and Aji Rico made a bumper crop this year.
It was an average year for tomatoes in general, and I harvested 95 pounds of them in total. We were well supplied with slicing types, and my wife and I enjoyed tasting and comparing the varieties at every opportunity. Damsel is one of my favorites, but a couple of others were standouts too including Chef’s Choice Purple, Benevento and Chef’s Choice Striped. Purple Zebra is a 2022 AAS Winner, and my wife and I thought it was one of the best tasting of all the tomatoes I grew this year. I had fewer processing/paste types than I would have liked, but I turned what I had into freezer tomato sauce.
The spring planted brassicas also benefited from the early rains we got. My wife and are big fans of kohlrabi, and I harvested almost 30 pounds of it. Most of that came from the spring planting, since the fall crop was mainly a bust. We had plenty for fresh eating though, and I fermented a lot of it. Kohlrabi also keeps its quality for several weeks in the refrigerator which helps to extend the harvest.
The spring planted cabbage also did quite well, and I brought in 25 pounds of it. As with the kohlrabi, we enjoyed it fresh and I turned a lot of it into sauerkraut. Fermenting is one of my favorite ways to preserve cabbage, though I sometimes freeze it for use in soups. Green Presto is an early cabbage that did quite well for me, and the head in the below photo weighed four pounds.
It was not a good year for blueberries here, and our blackberries didn’t fare much better. We had plenty for fresh use though, and some to freeze for later use. I set out a few raspberries plants this year, and hopefully next year we can add them to the menu.
I hope you have enjoyed this review of some of the veggies and fruit we grew here in 2022. I’ll be back soon with more adventures from Happy Acres, including my plans for the garden in 2023.