Towards the end of the growing season, it is always nice to look at how our seed and plant selections did for the year. Here are a few varieties we are pleased with that were on trial this season:
Red Zebra tomato
Recommended by Mark Q at Scattergood, this one made him look *really* good. We already grow Green Zebra. Red Zebra is the perfect compliment in both looks and taste. CSA members enjoyed having a chance to have a couple/few salad sized tomatoes every week during tomato peak thanks to these two. I suspect we'll increase production of these a bit more to give everyone a few more to snack on.
Tiger Eye dry/shell bean
The lima beans we have tried around here in the past are very much hit or miss. Tiger Eye is not exactly a lima, but it can be shelled while green, or it can be left to be a dry bean. This is true for lima beans as well. Tiger Eye seed tends to be a bit pricier than some, but the shorter season and high crop level paid off. This year, we tried some during the normal growing season and got a half-hearted crop (June, say no more). We also planted several rows late in the year, hoping for a long fall. We got the fall AND we got a chance to try the shelling bean side. We liked them enough to add them to our plan for 2011. Not sure how much it will require in order to add this to the CSA. That will require more experimentation.
White Egg turnip
We've relied on Purple Top White Globe and Golden turnips. But, we were looking for shorter season turnips that can help us out in the fall if we are unable to get other turnips in the ground. White Egg responded both in the spring and in the fall. Once things warmed up, White Egg became rather unhappy and mealy. So, it is clearly a cooler weather turnip. But, that's entirely fine with us. Purple Top and golden hold pretty well in warmer weather, so we can plan around these strengths.
Ok, it's true. Nearly every cucumber we planted did well this season. But, some did better than others. Wautoma gets the nod over Boothby's Blonde, Poinsett 97 and others we trialed this year. In particular, Wautoma impressed with the long season of production. We suspect we will like this cultivar better if we trellis it since it crawled all the way from the farm to the town of Fredricka and back. It also had more of a tendency to have fruit issues if they were on the soil during wet weather. Other cucumbers did not exhibit this problem as much. On the other hand, this one will give us loads of smaller cucumbers if we can keep it picked. We didn't keep up and they still produced for 11 weeks. If we can trellis, maybe we can keep up?
Tromboncino summer squash
This one is a winner even though it didn't produce like one this year. Why? We planted it in a late succession and it would do better in a prime season planting. (2nd succession of summer squash). These long, curly squash with a bulb on the end can be harvested early as summer squash or allowed to mature and be used as winter squash. However, if the taste this year was any indicator, it is unlikely any of these will be allowed to become a winter squash. Fabulous on the grill, we'll do more with them next year.
Costata Romanesco zucchini
Production levels are lower than a hybrid by a long ways. The vines crawl more than hybrids do. The fruit are striped and often have a thin middle. In other words, many of the things that would drive a commercial grower nuts. On the other hand, you have to taste it. It's worth growing a row of these so that CSA members have a chance to put these in a special dish that calls for zucchini. And, if I were selling to a fine restaurant looking for 'gourmet,' I would chose this zucchini first. We'll grow lower producing plants if they taste this good. And, while they didn't produce huge numbers, they produced for a long time and were fairly consistent. I could count on the number of fruit I would get in the trial row each picking.
Green Wave mustard
I have to admit that I snuck mustard into our grow list - Tammy didn't know we had it until I planted it. These were held in reserve for fall to late fall. And, they are paying off. The plants look beautiful and the leaves are a nice light green with frilly edges. Like all mustards, they have some bite/warmth when eaten raw. And, many people love that taste. When cooked, they sweeten appreciably and add a nice taste to a stir fry. In fact, we found it worked well in combination with arugula and kale. These plants are easy to grow and easy to pick. Remember, mustard, once it goes to seed, will remain in your garden for years to come.