I can’t believe we’re already at the end of August, and close to the end of the summer growing season. This one was filled with plenty of ups and downs, but overall I think it’s been my best, most prolific season yet. I grew more types of produce and tried lots of new things, but before I get carried away with a look back at the season, I need to talk about what’s being harvested right now. Because really, this IS the season. We’re at the peak.
Holy moly tomatoes! Even with the dying plants, the wilt, the blight, and all of the other issues, I’ve still been harvesting lots of tomatoes. Every shape and size were represented this year in varying hues of yellow, green, red and even purple, with all kinds of stripes, splotches, and swirls. I planted some of my favorites from years past, like Cherokee purple, big zebra, green zebra, big pink + white stripe, aunt ruby’s german green, yellow brandywine, pineapple and sun gold. I also planted several new varieties, including sweet 100’s, costuloto genovese, paul robeson, beefmaster, evergreen, kellogg’s breakfast, and black zebra.
Some of my old favorites didn’t do so hot this year, like aunt ruby, big zebra, and green zebra. Other’s did a little better, but overall, just about every plant struggled a bit. Of the newer varieties, I’ll definitely be growing the beefmaster, kellogg’s breakfast and black zebra again, but I’ll skip the rest. They didn’t grow well and the fruit they produced had poor flavor or texture. Live and learn.
My container tomatoes didn’t do well at all. I’ve struggled to water them consistently and disease has set in. Next year I may grow other plants in containers and leave the tomatoes for the ground. I know many people who have great success growing tomatoes in containers, but it’s never really worked out too well for me. I’m especially disappointed in the sun golds, but there’s always next year, and I’ve at least harvested enough to make my favorite pasta a few times.
My peppers are going bonkers! I’m harvesting lots of them in different colors, flavors and varying levels of heat. Lots of new varieties this year, but my old standbys are doing the best. Cascabels are just starting to come in, which I’ll dry out to use in salsas. I’m getting a huge harvest from my aji dulce, which has a beautiful fruity flavor like a habanero, but without the crazy heat. Early jalapenos, jaloros and serranos are fiery hot, while my orange jalapeno tastes like a bell pepper. Zero heat. Not even a little bit, which is crazy!
Eggplant is so-so. My biggest, most productive plant has been producing incredibly seedy, bitter fruit, which is such a bummer. I have a few other varieties planted, but they’re just not producing all that much. Zucchini has been okay. I’ve never had much luck with it, and this year isn’t very different. My mystery squash has been producing tons of beautiful, healthy butternut squash which I am so excited to cook this fall. I have a small cantaloupe forming and a trny tiny watermelon that’s oddly shriveling up.
It’s been a great year for cucumbers. Nice, healthy plants that have been producing like crazy. There are pickles in our very near future. Some of my herbs are going berzerk, while others aren’t having the best year. Basil has seen better days, and my parsley has completely died. Swiss chard is killing it, while kale is struggling to survive. Rhubarb is still going strong, and the sunflowers are blooming like crazy.
This week I plan to get some broccoli, brussels sprouts, lettuces and radishes into the ground for what will hopefully be my first ever fall planting. I’m usually too burnt out and, pardon the pun, too “in the weeds” to deal with it this time of year. This August has been no exception, but I’m forcing myself to just take a few hours and do it. Come October, I’ll be so glad I did.
I’d love to hear about what’s happenign in your gardens! Leave me a comment and let me know what you’re harvesting, and as always, if you have any advice or words of wisdom for me, I’m all ears. For tips and ideas on how to preserve your harvest, see my post from last year.
Enjoy these last few dog days. We’ll be wishing for them in a few months!