Kicking Into High Gear

So far, I’ve got tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, creeping thyme, lettuce, New Zealand spinach, malabar spinach, and butterfly weed started, in addition to the plants that I started in the late fall that have been growing all winter (beets, carrots, cardoon, and some peppers and tomatoes).

I planted 12 tomato varieties this year. I’m still experimenting with different varieties to see which ones we like the best and which ones will do well here. The tomato varieties this year are:

Cherokee Purple, Manitoba, Black Tomato, Neptune, Dad’s Barber Paste, Elfin, Sprite, Black Sea Man, Napa Grape, Japanese Black Trifelle, Black Crim, and Black Cherry.

The Napa grapes are a hybrid, but I’m growing them anyway because we just really like that variety and I haven’t so far been able to find an heirloom or open pollination variety of grape tomato that we like as much. All of the rest are heirloom or open pollination varieties. I have read that Cherokee purple is particularly suited to the climate here, and people have said that it does well in extreme heat. I hope so, because it would be nice to have tomatoes that would continue to bear in the hottest part of the summer. We find that we like the black and brown tomato varieties a lot and that’s why I’m growing so many of them. I grew black cherry tomatoes last year, and they were great.

Pepper varieties this year are:

Carmen, Tams Jalapeno, and Douce D’Espagne Pimiento.

Carmen is a hybrid, but as with the Napa grape tomatoes, I’m growing it anyway because I haven’t found another long pepper that we like as much as this one. It’s sweeter, has a better flavor, and has a thicker flesh than any of the other long peppers we’ve tried so far. I decided to only grow the jalapenos for the hot peppers this year because they seem to be the most hardy and least prone to being damaged by leaf footed bugs, and also because the recipe I use for home made sriracha hot sauce calls for them. I also still have two salsa delight pepper plants that have been growing and bearing since last summer (they lived in the greenhouse over the winter), and we don’t need an awful lot of hot peppers, so I’ve decided not to grow too many varieties this year. We had good luck with some variety of pimiento pepper last year also. I bought the plants at a store, and I don’t remember the name of the variety, but I decided it would probably be worth planting some kind of pimiento pepper this year, so I settled on the douce d’Espagne. I’m not growing any variety of bell pepper this year. They don’t seem to be as hardy or bear as much fruit as the carmens and last year’s pimiento peppers, and they don’t have as much sweetness or flavor either.

Eggplant varieties this year are:

Listada de Gandia and Pingtung Long.

I grew the listada de gandia last year and liked it a lot, and I’ve grown the pingtung long every year for the last few years. I like them both a lot, so that’s all the eggplants I’m growing this year. I’ve had difficulty growing the dark purple eggplants here. They tend to want to be green inside, and I need them to not be green inside. The ones with green inside seem to irritate my throat.

The sugar snap peas and snow peas are already planted. I need to dig out the Jerusalem artichokes from last year and replant them where they can grow wild.

I still need to start sunflowers, okra, passionflowers, and nasturtiums in cups, and soon it will be time to plant beans, cucumbers, onions, and melons.

I have already made one potato harvest from the potatoes I was growing in bags. I have replanted them, but so far no plants are showing yet.

I have two black sea man tomato plants and two sprite tomato plants that I started late last fall that are blossoming now. So we might be able to start getting tomatoes pretty early this year. My intention was to have them bearing fruit all winter, but I think I started them too late for that. The salsa delight peppers did bear fruit all winter, so I think if I plant tomatoes for the greenhouse earlier this year, I might be able to get tomatoes all winter long.

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