Garlic – This fall we planted our 5th generation of Chesnok Red, a hardneck variety, and 5th generation of softneck Kettle River. The ‘seed’ cloves were harvested and cured this summer, and we plan to keep both varieties in our permanent rotation, since they seem able to cope with all kinds of soil and weather conditions. The Chesnok stores much better than the original source described, and the Kettle River can grow extra large if we don’t get too much rain.
Luscious corn – Since we have plenty of feed/flour corn stored up, we splurged on a patch of this bicolor sweet corn. Once we figured out that our germination problem was actually our resident feral doves pulling up sprouts, we protected the replants long enough to ensure a bumper crop. Really tasty corn, nice full ears, and freezes well after a quick blanch and into the FoodSaver.
Gunma cabbage – The cabbage worms and slugs loved this new-to-us variety, but we still managed to harvest some heavy flattened globe-shaped heads for pickling. A second, late planting did equally well, but the timing was even more beneficial to the hungry bugs. Since we had plenty pickled and frozen, awaiting use as cabbage roll wrappers, we let the chickens have the fall crop when we turned them into the nearly empty garden. They were eaten to the stem within a few days.
Nelson carrot – a new variety for us, and touted as a sweet, tender, crisp Nantes type by Fedco Seeds. It was meh. Really poor germination, and just not as tasty as our usual Nantes Fancy. We’ll skip this one in 2015. We planted a late crop of Nantes Fancy (just after the garlic harvest) and they were spectacular.
Carola potato – Just nope! The area we planted potatoes was a little ‘hot’, meaning the added compost could have been aged longer, so a little scabbing was understandable, but these spuds didn’t produce as well as hoped, so the extensive skin damage was another blow. This crop probably won’t store well, so we’re processing them into mashed potatoes, then freezing portions for later.
Desiree potato – A red skinned, white fleshed spud we’ve grown before, but this crop had the same problems as the Carola.
We also planted some Maris Pipers that made it through storage from the previous year, and these did ok after an initial brush with blight. Since potatoes are a land-hungry crop, and we can buy good local spuds when needed, our 2015 potato patch will probably be some earlies for a late spring treat.
Peppers – As usual, we tried growing our own starts with susbstandard infrastructure. With so many projects in the works, an efficient, space-conserving seed starting set up just hasn’t made it to the top of the list yet. So the homegrown varieties didn’t do much, though the three store bought starts (mini-bell, ancho, early jalapeno) managed to hang in there for a decent harvest. I think we’ll refrain from starting our own seeds until we have a better place to do it.
Potimarron winter squash – Winner! On a whim I grabbed a packet of seeds, even though a big squash patch wasn’t part of the plan. We had grown these years ago in some really crappy soil, and they begrudgingly produced small red-orange fruits. This year the two plants we grew got a wide expanse of perfect soil, and we harvested 17 bowling ball sized squash. We haven’t cooked any yet, but the name potimarron refers to a chesnut-squash flavor, so they should be a nice sweet baking squash.
Sweet Dumpling delicata squash – A regular favorite, this small squash looks like a cross between acorn and delicata squash, and cooks up dry and sweet. One larger fruit serves two people, and is especially wonderful baked with kielbasa or breakfast sausage chunks in the cavity. The two vines we planted produced 37 squash.
Blacktail Mountain watermelon – Developed to withstand chilly Idaho nights, this variety was happy with our mild summer and rich soil. We ended up with a surplus of ripe melons and shared them with friends. Even though they taste fairly sweet, the inside flesh doesn’t get very dark. We’re still trynig to figure out the best way to judge ripeness, and will probably keep growing these as long as we have space. This year’s crop came from saved seed, and we saved seed again to keep developing an acclimatized strain.
Miyashige white daikon radish – It’s tough to time planting & harvest of this radish to coincide with the Napa cabbage we use for kimchi makings. Carrot rust flies love this as much as carrots, so getting pretty roots means a later planting. Last summer we let a few unharvested roots go to seed, and some of the feral seedlings were content to turn into nice big un-buggy radishes. I had meant to pull them, but left them when I saw how many bees were taking advantage of the early fall flowers. We’ll probably just buy some when we need to make more kimchi, and enjoy the random volunteer radishes as they mature.
Temperatures dropped very abruptly recently, and we had just enough time to get some late starts planted out and under a row cover. Once it warms up a bit we can take a look for any survivors. There is spinach, chard, lettuce, kale, parsley, and a wee clump of chives from our Swedish seed bank experiment. Stay tuned for exciting updates!