As summer comes to a close, it's a good idea to reflect on what has flourished in your organic vegetable garden and what has flopped. Here's a rundown on what has worked for us this season.
Edamame--Beer Friend. Edamame are a type of soybean that is eaten green, like a lima bean. They have a rich, nutty flavor and Beer Friend, with it's abundant and plump bean-filled pods, beat out Shirofumi for our top edamame spot.
Eggplant--Pingtung Long beat out Swallow and Dusky for the eggplant gold medal in this year's garden. It bears long, slender, beautiful lavender fruits up to 12" long. They are a joy to behold, especially as they appear almost magically, one after the other, on their sturdy, prolific parent plants. These eggplants are delicate, tender and easy to cook--no peeling or salting required!
Tomatoes--Sun Gold all the way. These little orange gems are sweet and bite-sized and each Sun Gold plant is a tomato all-you-can-eat buffet. Coming in a close second was Juliet, a grape tomato that is great for salads, tomato sauce or eating out of hand. Fresh Salsa was prone to disease, so had loads and loads of blemished fruit from which we salvaged enough good ones to put up a few gallons of spectacular salsa. Fireball was a relatively tasteless ball of tomato and Pruden's Purple was a fairly early, misshapen heirloom variety with good flavor (if you still have your appetite after looking at it!).
Peppers--Carmen sweet pepper is an AAS selection from Johnny's that performed well in our garden. It is loaded with sweet, deep red peppers that are great for roasting, frying or eating raw. Red Ace, Purple Beauty (a dependable producer of many small purple bell peppers), Big Bertha and Italia were Carmen's competition this year.
Basil--Year after year, sweet basil is our number one cooking and pesto-making pick! This year, it triumphed over Genovese basil, Thai basil, spicy bush basil and holy basil (which, by the way, is wonderful in bouquets).
Potatoes--Banana fingerling potatoes were our favorites, their abundant yields, excellent flavor and waxy, dense texture helping them satisfy our cravings for potato-y goodness better than Caribe or Onoway.
Garlic--Chinese Pink--These giant, flavorful bulbs flourished despite the trials of torrential rain, onion maggots and North Carolina soils and humidity. This variety did better than many other hardneck and softneck garlics in our garden. Other varieties that we trialed included German Extra Hardy, Sonoran, Oregon Blue, Susanville and California Early.
Sweet Corn--Fleet, an early bicolor sweet corn gave Spring Treat (a bland yellow corn) a sound beating. There was no comparison!
Melons--Yellow Doll Watermelon, a small, yellow-fleshed watermelon earned an easy victory over Sweetie #6 (the 10% of them that didn't crack and were harvested at exactly the right time--there seems to be about a 12 hour window between rock hard and starting to ferment--were outstanding) and Athena cantaloupes (just OK).