With daytime temperatures breaking 100 and evening temperatures that rarely dip below 80, it's garden half-time here in North Texas when most vegetables go into survival mode and we're lucky to harvest enough to make breakfast. So it's good time to reflect on the varieties that have performed well up to this point.
Here's a list of the vegetable varieties I have tried this year so far, whether they passed (and get to grow again in 2015) or failed, and why…
Potato, Red La Soda – PASS
Next year, I’m considering growing only red skinned potatoes. They were the earliest to mature and the most prolific. By the time the red potatoes were of a decent size for harvest, I was WAY over waiting for the others to mature. These produced very well for me, and I might try Red Pontiac and Red Norland next year.
Potato, Kennebec – MIGHT
I could have waited longer to harvest and let the white skinned varieties mature, but I couldn’t stand it. These were very small, but small potatoes are the best when roasted because they get super crispy.
Potato, Yukon Gold – MIGHT
These performed like Kennebec, a little slow to mature.
Potato, Russian Banana – FAIL
When I pulled up everything else, these were barely starting to produce. Not worth it unless you can wait FOREVER.
Onion, 1015 – FAIL
This is the second year I’ve grown onions. Both years I’ve had problems with bolting. Onion sets were purchased from a local nursery. The “1015” had the worst bolting, and the onions did not get very large. I'm either going to try ordering my onions from Dixondale Farms next year, or starting my onions from seed.
Onion, Bermuda – PASS
Bolted, but not nearly as bad as the 1015 and Red.
Onion, Texas Legend – PASS
The best performing variety of all four.
Onion, Southern Belle Red – FAIL
Lots of bolting.
Bean, Borlotto Tongue of Fire – PASS
This is my first time growing bush beans, and it could NOT have been easier. You literally do NOTHING. No staking, no pest control, no fertilizing. Bush beans can be shelled and eaten fresh, or dried for storage. To harvest for drying, you simply leave the beans completely alone until the bean pods start to dry and shrivel. Once more than 75% of the bean pods withered, I pulled up the entire plants and spread them out on an old window screen in my garage, forgot about them for 3 weeks, and then I channeled my inner Italian grandma and shelled the beans into a large glass jar on my patio.
The first crop of beans was planted on April 8th. I forgot to document when I pulled them up, but I did make note of planting the second crop on June 2nd. I can’t remember if I pulled the first crop before planting the second, but even if I planted crop #2 when the first was starting to wind down, that’s a darn good turnaround. Baker Creek lists the Tongue of Fire beans at a 65-70 day maturity.
Atomic Red Carrots - FAIL
Jaune Obtuse du Doubs Carrot - FAIL
Cosmic Purple Carrot – FAIL
Every single carrot I grew this year was a total fail. The seedlings took forever to germinate, grew incredibly slowly, and then failed to reach any considerable length before it became too hot. But you know me, I won’t give up!
I found this good post written by a Texas Master Gardener, and I’m going to follow their lead with an October planting using the varieties recommended for Texas by A&M, Danvers and Nantes.
Tomato, Moneymaker – PASS WITH FLYING COLORS
Man, this tomato is a serious heirloom rock star. It started fruiting early and hasn’t stopped producing even as we get into seriously hot weather. The fruits are small – the size of a golf ball – but the flavor is good and they look beautiful – very little cracking or discoloration. The plants were also very strong and seemed to resist the flea beetle damage that has plagued my garden big time this year.
Tomato. Blue Beauty – FAIL
This variety started off weak. The seeds were slow to germinate and the seedlings were small and weak. The plants weren’t very productive and the flavor was nothing to write home about.
Tomato, Blush – PASS
I really love this tomato. The fruits are an elongated cherry; color is an absolutely gorgeous translucent yellow mottled with pink. And flavor is outstanding! It’s been producing steadily throughout the summer. A top 10 pick for sure.
Tomato, Green Pear – PASS
Great flavor, good production.
Tomato, Pink Bumblebee – FAIL
Steady production, pretty coloring, but fruit is very small and flavor is unremarkable.
Tomato, Reisetomate – FAIL
This is a very rare tomato and definitely the most unusually shaped tomato on earth! The plants were strong and produced heavily, but suffered a bit of blossom end rot which is not something I have ever struggled with. Reisetomate successfully served its purpose as a totally weird and crazy variety to try out, but I planted too many and the fruit is kind of hard to eat or process for canning. I recommend it if you have the room for a novelty - and want to impress dinner guests - but definitely don’t plant more than one because that extra space is better dedicated to more practical tomatoes. I also had some problems with blossom end rot with this one, and I’ve never had that problem before.
Tomato, Gehzante - PASS
This is a pleated tomato that I have enjoyed. The fruits are good for stuffing - kind of hollow, mostly flesh. The fruits were larger than I was expecting. I’ll probably do one or two plants next year.
Tomato, Lollipop - PASS
The only reason I'm passing the Lollipop tomato is because it's color is outstanding. It looks beautiful in a mixed tomato salad - very pale yellow. Fruits are tiny, and it wasn't a remarkable producer, but I'll still grow again because it's pretty.
Tomato, Chocolate Pear - PASS
Loved this one. Good producer, good flavor.
Tomato, Green Sausage – FAIL
YUCK. Grossest tomatoes ever. Weak plants and weird fruit that were kind of rubbery. No flavor.
Pepper, Sweet Italian Marconi Golden – PASS WITH FLYING COLORS
I’ve never had any luck growing bell peppers, but now I never have to plant another bell pepper again because the Sweet Italian Marconi Golden peppers are just as big with sweeter flavor! When ripe, these peppers look like stretched out yellow bell peppers. Seedlings were strong from germination to transplant, and they have steadily produced throughout the summer. Now that’s starting to get really hot, the plants are going crazy. Love this plant!
Pepper, Sweet Cherry Pepper Blend – FAIL
This pepper was weak from germination and never produced much. Plus the fruits were tiny – so you ended up getting mostly seeds when you cut into it.
Eggplant, Purple Long – PASS
This plant is awesome! Strong germination and growth with heavy production of 6-8 inch long, pale purple eggplants. To get enough fruits from each harvest to make a substantial dish, plant at least four plants.
I think that's it. In about two months I should have another report on the following:
Watermelon Jubilee Bush
Kamo Kamo Squash
The miracles you've been searching for are just beyond your back door.