Saturday, January 2, 2010

Spring Garden Roundup

As mentioned in a post I did back at the beginning of March, I will do a "after season round up" giving my thoughts and complaints of my experience with the various plants this year.

Veggie Garden:
Black Krim Tomato (Austin Organic Gardeners Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $1.50): (from the plant) Indeterminate. 75 days. Large brown-red fruit with rich sweet flavor. Sets well in heat. Heirloom from Crimea. (from the info sheet) Dark-brown, red fruit, large (10-12 oz), Russian. Heavy Producer, prone to cracking. Likes hot weather. Rich complex flavor, sweet-tasting fruit. Indeterminate. 75-90 days. Status: Heirloom
Experience: LOVE this tomato. It is the first heirloom tomato that I've gotten to grow. The flavor is great, even if the tomatoes themselves look a little strange. Did great in the spring/summer, and while it had some tomatoes on it on Dec. 2, they were no where near ripening and were lost to a freeze (during the great blizzard of 09). As mentioned earlier this week, it seemed to be the most affected by the galls on the roots (I'm guessing nematodes), but I don't know if it's because the plant started with them, or it was just the most susceptible of the plants. In any case, the plant was very vigorous until the end of the summer, and even looked good after the summer pruning so even if the galls are nematodes, it didn't seem to affect the plant much.
Will I be planting this one again: Absolutely. I will probably also try a Cherokee Purple.

Brandywine Tomato (Austin Organic Gardeners Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $1.50): (from the info sheet) Pink-red beefsteak tomato (1-1.5 lbs), rich tomato flavor. Amish. Excellent balanced taste and production. Indeterminate. 80 days. Status: Heirloom.
Experience: This was the first year in which the plant looked "good". By "good" I mean I'm comparing it to Brandywine plants from years past and not to the other tomatoes I planted this year as it probably fared the worst out of all of them. Yep, epic fail. I only ever remember it having 1 tomato on it. It did ripen, and the neighbor, who got to eat it since we were in Yellowstone the week it ripened, said it was wonderful, albeit small (about 1.5 times the size as a cherry tomato). It did have a problem with spider mites in the spring and never really seemed to recover. When I pulled this plant out, it also was affected by the galls though not as much as the Krim.
Will I be planting this one again: Probably not (at least I won't purchase any plants). I just can't get it to grow, and as a tomato, it's such a water hog. I think I still have some tomato seeds I bought a few years ago and Brandywine was one of the varieties, so I still may end up with a Brandywine tomato plant next year.

Roma Tomato (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Red, pear-shaped tomato. This is your classic paste and salsa tomato! Thick-walled, solid with good flavor. Determinate, 78 days. Status: Paste.
Experience: Roma tomatoes have always done well for me, and this one was completely COVERED in tomatoes in the fall. Spring, this year, didn't have as many tomatoes, but I am willing to believe that the hail storm we had which damaged most of the front row of plants, had something to do with that. I don't necessarily think these have the best flavor, but considering all my tomatoes end up in sauces, it doesn't matter so much to me. This one had some galls on the roots, but only one or two, so I would say it did pretty well.
Will I be planting this one again: Yes. It's fairly compact and usually the best paste producer for me.

Viva Italia Tomato (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Red, elongated tomato. Italian. Very firm flesh, great for canning, freezing and making yummy pasta sauces! Determinate, 75 days. Status: Paste
Experience: I think I've planted this one every year as well since moving to Austin. In the past it hasn't ever produced tons of tomatoes, but some of that was because it always seemed to not get enough sun or be too waterlogged. Since installing my raised beds, however, this plant did wonderfully. It did much better in the spring than in the fall. I think it has slightly better flavor than the Roma. When I pulled this one out of the ground last week, it did not have any galls on the roots.
Will I be planting this one again: Yes, more than likely. This year was the tallest it's ever been at about 4'.

BHN 444 Tomato (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Red Tomato. Resistant to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus. Excellent quality and size, perfectly smooth, globe shaped fruit. Determinate, 75 days. Status: Easy Grower.
Experience: This plant was damaged by the hail storm and only ever produced a handful of fruit. The fruit looks the most like store-bought out of any of the varieties that fruited this year. The full sized fruit was about 3"-4" in diameter which always looked funny on the plant because it was only ever 2'-2.5' tall. By far the shortest of all of my tomato plants. When I pulled this out of the ground, it did not have any galls on the roots at all.
Will I be planting this one again: Maybe, maybe not. Depends on what other varieties there are available--I wouldn't be adverse to planting them, but may look for some other hybrid variety to plant instead.

Cloud 9 Eggplant (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Mild, white, tear-drop shape. [note: okay, this isn't very descriptive, so instead I will use google for this one] (from Google) Pure white colored eggplant, usually growing to 6-8" long. Fruits have a teardrop-pear shape, with a non-bitter flavor. Plants grow to about 3-4ft, with a 2-4ft spread. This variety is resistant to the tobacco mosaic virus. This variety is one of the few pure white colored eggplants. Maturity: 75 days
Experience: Very prolific producer in the fall. When the rest of the garden looked stressed in the summer, this one was putting on flowers. Having never grown eggplant before, I was most surprised by the purple nightshade-esque looking flowers. Flavor-wise the eggplant was good, not too seedy and no bitter taste as far as I could tell. Because there were about 12 eggplants on the plant at the end of the growing season, none of them got very large before I had to cut them off the plant. The couple we got in the spring were in the 6"- 8" range.
Will I be planting this one again: Once again, I wouldn't be adverse to it, and I know it can produce. However, I have purple eggplant seeds that I need to start and may not have any space for another Cloud 9. Besides, I like eggplant, but not enough to have multiple plants. On a side note, my Mother In Law always has 4 plants (usually of the Nadia variety), and there are weeks where every dinner has eggplant. I can't do that. Just will not happen.

Corno di Toro Gold Sweet Pepper (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Italian "Bull's Horn" colorful sweet peppers are 8-10" long and curved like a bull's horn. Ripen to bright yellow and are delicious fresh in salads, but more often are sauted or grilled. Prolific tall plants. Maturity: 68 days
Experience: Tall my ass. It was maybe 18" by the end, and that's being generous. It only ever produced 2 peppers, one of which was catfaced and never eaten. The other pepper was taken to Colorado at Christmas and put in a pot of chili (still green), and so I have no idea how it tastes.
Will I be planting this one again: Probably not. Especially if my bell pepper seeds I bought in the summer do well this year.

Large Red Thick Cayenne Pepper (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Concentrated set of wrinkled, very pungent fruit, 6" long by 1 1/4". Very pungent, even when small. Useful for sauce and drying. Maturity: 76 days.
Experience: As usual, the plant did decently. It never got very tall, maybe only 12". This one produced a handful of peppers in the spring and then just languished for the rest of the year until it was finally killed by the Blizzard of 09.
Will I be planting this one again: Likely, though probably not this coming year--Cayenne is one of the few spicy peppers I am okay with growing and using in cooking (there's this yellow spicy pepper that one of my coworkers grows and I just LOVE it, but he doesn't know what it's called). My husband doesn't like sweet peppers, and would prefer if I grew habaneros so the Cayenne is the compromise--hot, but not so hot that I cry. Because I was in a giving mood, I bought habanero seeds to grow this year so this particular plant may take a year hiatus from our rotation.

Yellow Manzano Rocoto Pepper (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Extremely hot, 2-4", yellow pepper. Known both for its tasty fruit with a spicy, apple-tinged flavor, but also for its growth habit. The Rocoto pepper plants can live for many years and grow into a small shrub. Sometimes called the Tree Pepper. Maturity: 95+ days.
Experience: Epic Fail. It died within a month of planting it.
Will I be growing this one again: No. I will stick with varieties that are proven here--think habanero. Though, now that I read the description, it may be the type that my coworker grows that I love so much...I will have to look into this.

types of Tomatoes:

Determinate means plants have short vines, are bushlike and compact. Most produce fruits in a short time span while others may produce all season. If you are planting in pots, you are better off with determinate tomato plants. Determinate plants are also great for canning.

Interdeterminate: Indeterminate means plants have long vines and grow big. You will need to stake these. They will produce tomatoes for a longer period of time than the determiantes.

Plants from Seeds:
Delicata Squash:
Experience: The plant just never set fruit and was eventually killed by a squash vine borer.
Will I be planting this one again: Yes since I still have seed left over

Butternut Squash:
Experience: The plant had a tough time setting fruit and only ever set 2. One fruit ripened in the summer, the other I had to pull off before it was fully ripe and ended up adding it to the compost pile since it turned brown. This plant also had problems with squash vine borers.
Will I be planting this one again: Yes since I still have seed left over

Experience: The seeds sprout and then are quickly eaten by something.
Will I be planting this one again: Yes since I still have seed left over

Experience: I killed this one by not watering it enough.
Will I be planting this one again: Maybe someday, but I've got other curcurbit plants to plant first.

Experience: This plant never even made it into the ground before the leading stem was broken.
Will I be planting this one again: I'll always probably try planting canteloupe. I think I even have seed for it...again.

Plants bought at Zilker Garden Fest (March 28):
Bat Faced Cuphea - $2.50 - a bit leggy, but otherwise good.
Passion Flower (2) - $5.00 - still alive even though it was completely denuded 2 times because of caterpillars.

Plants bought from Wildflower Center Spring Sale:
Coral Honeysuckle - $8 - doing well in the shade, and I'm pretty sure it will do wonderfully next year.

Plants bought from Red Barn Garden Center:
Turk's Cap - great!
Cyclamen - bloomed until the summer, went dormant, and has come back with the cooler weather.
Bluebonnets - never even came close to blooming
SnapDragons - provided some much needed color until the heat came.
Pansies - died as soon as I planted them.

Plants obtained through other means (aka Bob at Draco and Garden Bloggers Plant Exchange):
Turk's Cap - sat in a pot all summer, and was planted in the front yard at the beginning of the fall. Looks to be doing fine.
Gregg's Mistflower - sat in a pot all summer, and was planted in the front yard at the beginning of the fall. A little leggy, but otherwise seems fine.
Artemesia - planted in the front yard, seemed like it did better with infrequent deep waterings and looks like it is a little starved for sun, but it's still growing.
Rock Rose - planted in the front yard and is doing swimmingly.
Rosemary - sat in a pot all summer, and was planted in the front yard at the beginning of the fall. It is doing well.
Petunia - planted in the shade garden area and actually grew to be 4' tall and bloomed even. It now looks icky because of the freeze (am I supposed to prune this to the ground?)
Orange Bulbine - planted in the front yard. It is growing well in an area that NOTHING else ever seems to grow. I am happy.

Plants obtained through other means (aka Bob at Draco in the fall and Ross Clark in the fall):
Chile Pequin - had an aphid problem, but seems to be putting on new leaves.
Beautyberry - leaves have fallen off--I hope it's just for the winter.
Society Garlic - looking awesome.
Liriope - also looking awesome and I've only planted half of it...the other half is still doing fine sitting in a bucket. weird.
Shrimp Plant - looks wonderful and is flowering prolifically.
Prickly Pear Cactus - seems to be doing well
Sedum - the bright green stuff is doing wonderfully, the blue green is still there, but doesn't seem to expand
Hens and Chicks (?) - both have been planted and seem to be doing fine.


Garden Mad said...

I am so impressed by your notes about what went well and what you may need to improve this year. A valuable tip to pass on, thanks. I find I am at my most enthusiastic at this time of the year and I am not sure I could bear to remember all the failures but in my memory all was fantastic anyway and I can't wait to try again... and again...

Jane Ellis said...

How do you support your tomato plants? I've tried everything... found this one last year, its really the best product out there.

John said...

I am just thinking about starting a garden- mainly for herbs maybe some veggies if I get daring. How much sun do these gardens really need? IT does get pretty hot around here, won't there be some baking of the plant? My neighbor has a garden in her front yard- unfortunately a real eye sore. Can you give me any advice? I thought I would keep a bit of a journal on the sunlight for a couple of days? Thanks for any advice- Jody

katina said...

Hi Jody! I'll post a more in-depth answer on my main blog because you bring up a good question. I'll probably get around to it tomorrow. But in short, the answer is "Yes, you do need to plant them in full sun (at the very least 6 hours of full sun). Expect to water every day. And nothing will look good in July/August as Austin has 3 growing seasons--Fall, Winter and Spring."