Friday, October 23, 2009

Garden Spot 2009 Review: Individual Produce Evaluation

This is another review posting of the Garden Spot focusing on how some of the produce grew this season.

Previous reviews:
Garden Spot 2009 Review: Intro
Garden Spot 2009 Review: Challenges Faced
Garden Spot 2009 Review: Improvements Made

All the beans were planted in the traditional garden. Bush bean varieties planted were Tendergold, Blue Lake, and Royal Burgundy. They all produced very well. The Kentucky Wonder pole beans produced extremely well and kept me picking until our first killing frost. By the end of the season, I felt pretty beaned out, but we will see how far the preserved harvest lasts to determine if I will decrease the amount of plantings next year.

The Fast Break Melons did really well this year in the traditional garden considering the abnormal rain and colder temperatures we experienced. We harvested 12 fruit from three plants. There would have probably been more if our summer has been more normal. I would like to grow these again. I also have seeds for Charantais Melon that I would also like to try next year.

Only planted a few plants for snacking and salads. Sumter was the only variety we actually ate. The Straight Eight cucumbers produced mutant fruit that was bitter. Both developed powdery mildew mid-season. Not surprising with the weather we had. We need more cukes next year.

Very pleased with the eggplant, need to grow more next year. Two Ichiban eggplants were planted in the SFG and yielded enough fruit for a couple meals.

Although not resulting very large bulbs, the unknown variety seemed to grow well from the transplants replanted in early spring.

All lettuce was grown successfully in the SFG. Varieties grown were Paris Island Cos Romaine, Royal Oak Leaf, Salad Bowl, and Black Seeded Simpson. Spring lettuce lasted well into summer because of the cooler weather we experienced. Fall lettuce is still growing as I type this, but most have bolted and turned bitter. I should have succession planted another batch in September.

Onions were planted from transplants and never grew very large. I will try onion sets and Evergreen bunching onions from seed next year.

The varieties grown were Early Jalapeno, New Ace Sweet Bell, King Arthur Sweet Bell, Sweet Hybrid Bell, Big Chili Hybrid Hot Peppers, and what I think were Sweet Banana. There was a problem with the transplants. The Sweet Banana were supposed to be Early Jalapeno. Luckily I grew one Early Jalapeno plant from seed and was able to have some in the garden.

I planted few plants of each variety in both the SFG and traditional garden for comparison, but both locations seemed to do equally as well and seemed to average the same amount of fruit per plant.

The Sweet Hybrid Bell peppers that I purchased as backup when I thought the others were not going to succeed actually did pretty poorly overall. These were scattered in the traditional garden, SFG and SWC. By the end of the season, none of these grew very tall and there were only a few small peppers on these plants.

Five Early Prolific Straightneck Squash were grown in the traditional garden. It seemed like four too many. We don’t seem to like it very much and probably won’t be in the garden next year.

Varieties chosen were planned for making and preserving tomato sauce and salsa. Transplants were supposed to be Window Box Roma and Super Marzano. It wasn’t until the Window Box Roma tomatoes grew larger than expected then produced round fruit that I realized they were not the correct transplants.

Up until all the tomatoes were lost to Late Blight, they seemed to grow equally as well in the Square Foot Garden (SFG) and the traditional garden.

The 18-gallon self watering containers (SWCs) are perhaps best suited for one tomato plant instead of two, or maybe two determinant tomato plants that don’t tend to grow too large. I found that I had to fill the water reservoir twice a day early in the season and I am not sure if it would have been enough during the heat of our August. The Super Marzano in the SWC also developed Blossom End Rot (BER).

In all we harvested five Crimson Sweet watermelons from three plants. Only two were normal sized, the rest were mini-melons. Two Yellow Doll watermelon plants only yielded three fruit. I don’t think I will be growing these next year. Instead I will try a few Sugar Baby watermelon plants.

Three Burpee Hybrid zucchini plants produced enough fruit to feed an army. Some were eaten fresh, but most were used in baking and shredded up and frozen for adding to soups and baking breads and muffins in the future. We will see how long the preserved zucchini lasts, but I suspect that less will be planted next year. Some powdery mildew developed on the leaves mid-season, but it didn’t kill the plant or have an effect on producing.

Overall I am very pleased with the garden spot’s production this year. Even with the challenges faced, we ended up eating really well and preserving quite a bit from the garden. I am hoping to take what I learned this year and improve on the successes and increase the varieties of food grown. Soon I will preview some of the early plans for for the Garden Spot in 2010.


  1. I'm really impressed that you got cantaloupes, given the growing conditions this year. -Jean

  2. I think it's interesting that you feel only 1 tomato plant in an 18 gallon swc would do much better. I've often wondered about that.

  3. What a lovely presentation and great assessment of the season's produce.
    Hats off to anyone who grew melon this year. Well done ! Your beans were most impressive. (I want my bean plants to look that good next year !). All in all a very good year. Congratulations ! :)

  4. Jean: No one was more surprised than me when the melons produced. I think the black plastic mulch helped. Fast Break melons have a 67 day maturity, but it took all season before I was harvesting any. Transplants were planted in the garden Memorial Day weekend but most of the melons didn't ripen until September. There were four more that didn’t mature in time before frost.

    EG: Just a theory on the SWC. I wish I had a whole season's experience to make a better judgment. I had two Super Marzano in one SWC and they seemed to suck up the water as fast as I filled the reservoir. The potting mix was Miracle Grow which also seems to wick too much water. Then they had BER while the other Super Marzano in the SFGs were fine. I also used Epsom salt when I probably should have used lime. I don’t know, there are really too many variables. I will have to experiment again next year. I would appreciate any thoughts that you may have.

    Miss M: Thanks! It was my second year with the Fast Break melons. The first year the garden was taken over by weeds that I couldn’t keep up with. In spite of that, the melons yielded a few fruit that were delicious. So I knew they would do well if the conditions were improved. I really think the black plastic mulch was key…it kept the weeds a bay while warming the soil when the sun did shine.

    The beans…well nothing special was done, they just grew like weeds.

  5. I'm so glad you did this. How do you do the text over the pictures? It's lovely.

    Keeping good notes really helps with next year. Your straightneck squash description made me smile!

  6. great recap! i am super impressed with your cantaloupe crop too. that is awesome you got that many given this summer's weather. i may have to give Fast Break a whirl next year.

  7. You seems to be crazy about vegetable garden aren't you? Impressed with your impressed with your cantaloupe crop . enjoyed your blog.

  8. Stefaneener: I use photoshop to do my graphics with the text over the pics. It’s a professional graphic design software, but I am sure there is an open source software that would do the same. Try googling “open source photo editing”.

    As far as the straightneck squash, we really didn’t know what to do with it. We ate it in stir-fry, grilled, sliced into salads, etc. I just think the space can be better utilized with another type of squash.

    Allison: Thanks! Pine Tree Seeds sells seeds for Fast Break melons. I grew from transplants this year, but will try growing from seed next year.

  9. Nicely done recap. I am considering trying the purple burgundy bush beans this coming year if I can track down a seed source. I like the visual appeal of the green and purple beans.

  10. I love the royal burgundy beans mostly because they are so pretty. It's too bad they don't keep their color when cooked.