On this episode of As the Veggies Ripen, experience my veggie garden arising from the dead of drought and summer because of a few showers. Suddenly, life springs back, and please god, let the bees come and pollinate or I'll be out there shaking everything down to get it going.
When we last saw the garden, the heat and drought had squeezed most of the plants to within an inch of their life. Squash vine borers moved in and decimated many others. I won't hide the ugly truth, we lost some good ones out there. And it can only become ugly when you have to approach your veggie garden with a bucket of soapy water and a knife. Oh, the humanity!
But here we are having enjoyed a few chance showers and I have gotten a second chance. Today I cut back all of the tomatoes by half, hoping to revive them for the fall growing season and the cooler temps that might allow them to fulfill their fruiting obligations to me as their veggie master.
Here's my report on the winners, losers, and the downright duds! I have retained the beautifully versed marketing descriptions (in italics) of the plantings so you can see fantasy vs. reality.
Azoychka Tomato: Dead, dead, dead. After making a comeback from being chopped off at the base, the top of this plant was yet again chopped off. Interestingly, neither time was the plant anywhere to be found. It was too much to hope that it would spring back.
One of the first to ripen in your garden, this lovely lemon yellow 7 to 8 ounce tomato has a delightful sweetness with just a touch of acidity. Ripening in only 70 days from planting out, it has a delightful yet subtle hint of citrus with a rich lingering flavor. This beguiling Russian heirloom has become a favorite of chefs and tomato lovers world wide.
Jetsetter Tomato: The only one of my tomato plants to produce any fruit aside from the cherry tomato. It yielded 4 good size tomatoes, all with cracks in them. I let the first one ripen on the vine and paid for it with a nice hole in the bottom. From then on, I picked them the moment they had a hint of redness, letting them finish up ripening on the counter.
Produces good yields of very flavorful 8 oz tomatoes. Tomatoes turn red when mature and have a very rich tomato taste. This variety matures very early offering those in the South a great early harvest. Excellent in salads or sandwiches. Disease Resistant: VFFNTA. Indeterminate.
Cupid Tomato:Has flowered almost constantly but really diminished fruit set withe the heat. I get a few here and there. Taste is OK, but I wasn't bowled over. The tomatoes are so small, much smaller than I am used to with grape tomatoes.
Grape Tomato plant, will make you fall in love with its rich flavor, huge yields, and ease of growth! 'Cupid' is a very lucky find, and without a doubt the most flavorful grape tomato ever grown! Huge clusters of bright red fruit that resists cracking and is disease resistant. Natural sugars make Cupid a sweet nutritious snack.
Brandywine Tomato: Nothing, nada, zilch, zero. Lame.
Indeterminate, pink fruited, large fruit, oblate shape, some green shoulders, some ribbed shoulders, some cracking, yield can range from how to relatively high, potato leaf, meaty, flavor from insipid to superb.
Yellow Boy Tomato: I have not seen one tomato from this plant. A big disappointment.
(VFN)The first lemon yellow, not golden, tomato variety, and still one of the best. Extremely vigorous plants produce large harvests of attractive fruit that weighs 8 ozs. or more. Flavor is outstanding, mild and sweet yet tangy and definitely not bland. Indeterminate.
Japanese Soyu Cucumber: All I can say is wow! Vines are going nuts up the trellis and the cucumbers are all over it and huge-as big as my arm! You can see some hanging in the picture below. We are eating them every night and I still have plenty to give away. Flavor is nice and clean, not sure I would call it "sweet" but it has had no problem with the heat.
This sweet Asian cucumber can be eaten like any traditional Western variety but also popular in soups, raitas and stir-fries. Long-ridged, sweet fruit, 18" or longer. Can be trellised for longer, straighter fruit.
Homemade Pickles Cucumber: These vines just stayed puny and I was ready to give up on them. But suddenly, with a few showers, they sprung back to life and got their second wind. Now they are spilling out into the aisles beside the raised beds and trying to twine around the tomato cages. Flowers all over but no fruit yet. I'm hoping the buzzing I hear when I walk by will remedy that situation. I'm just starting to see some aphids on the leaves-will need to get out there and spray them off.
Arguably the best cucumber available for pickles. Solid and crisp interior-perfect for 1-5" pickles. Also great for salads.
Scallop (Patty Pan) Blend Squash:I love these. Absolutely my favorite tasting squash. Just a tad sweeter than the yellow squash. And they grow fast. The two plants I have left after the Squash Vine Borer Massacre of 2008 have just kept on going, even with gaping wounds from the borers and my knife. I have picked two this week that are bigger than my open hand. I continue to pick off and squish squash vine borer eggs constantly.
Mix contains Early White Bush, Golden Scallop and Bennings Green Tint, all heirloom varieties. Having a slightly spicier, nuttier flavor than other summer squashes, this is a must-have blend for squash lovers.
Early Prolific Straightneck Squash: Thank god these are prolific producers because the squash vine borers destroyed 75% of my crop. I have two left and I have a lot of fruit on them. I have to check this every few days or I pick squash bigger than my arm. This is cone case of the marketing description not being exaggerated. Again, squash vine borer eggs are constantly a danger and I keep busy hunting them down. I have sprayed all of my squash with BT to get these guys when they hatch.
This old favorite open-pollinated squash is still a favorite- best tasting when harvested at 4-7", the flesh is fine-grained, thick and firm. If left on the vine, will grow so big that it will affect the orbital spin of the earth.
Rosa Bianca Eggplant: Plant has grown nice and big , with flowers even. But so far, no fruit. But this was a late starter so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.
A gorgeous Italian variety with a delicate, mild flavor, creamy consistency, and no bitterness. Considered one of the best by gourmets and gardeners alike. 4-6 in. long, 4-5 in. diameter.
Ichiban Eggplant: Fair yield so far- probably 6 off the vine. Fruit grows fairly fast. Long and slender fruits, mild flavor.
Random Squash#1 and #2: I found these guys growing in my front lawn. So I hoisted them out and plopped them down into the veggie patch. Flowers all over but no idea yet what they are.
Bell Pepper: Small yield- only two peppers so far. Not that impressed.
Artichoke-I see my first artichoke producing in the center of the plant. Looks like it's having a rough time with the heat. But I'll let it go and see what happens.