The Plants get graded~Mid term

So of course part of the reason I keep this blog in the first place is to simply keep track of what I have done wrong, what I have done right, successes, failures, and of course also my own opinion on each plant.  This way I know which varieties NOT to grow the next year, which pests I need to be aware of and how to deal with those pests. 

First, let me start with the plants themselves.  And also berate myself for NOT WRITING DOWN THE HEIRLOOM TOMATO PLANTS THAT I PURCHASED! Dummy!
So here I'm GUESSING about the plants I have. I could probably hunt down in a message board somewhere or another but that would most likely take me a week or two.  Forget it! TIP HERE! When canning tomatoes take any tomatoes that are your intended victims, uh I mean, tomatoes you intend to cook up, and throw them in the fridge till they're chilled.  Later start boiling your water to a full boil.  Now start putting a few tomatoes in at a time for about a minute.  No more or your tomatoes will start to cook fully. 
Since they were chilled and then submerged in boiling water the skins just pop right off.  I've tried the non chilling method and I find you have to keep them in the boiling water a whole lot longer.

  • Mortgage Lifter: This one has yet to produce a single ripe tomato.  Now in all fairness it could be due to the location of the tomato plant. Just now is it getting a full amount of sun.  It is really super tall but is barely producing. Grade received? C because we have yet to even see a tomato yet.  
  • Golden Girl: Very tall, good sunny spot in the garden. Has produced two very pretty tomatoes over the past two weeks.  Grade Received? B for being tasty and being a reasonable producer
  • Black Cherry: Massive production!  This is in a very large pot and it's now about 11 feet tall. It's overgrown its supports and is producing since about 3 weeks ago.  Now almost daily we get at least 3 to maybe 5 little dark tomatoes to snack on.  In fact I snack on these almost daily at work(along with a sliced cucumber) Of course, once again, it may be due to location.  We'll try to put this in a different location next year to see if we get the same results.  Grade Received? A+ for being a great producer with superb taste!
  • Rutger: This is in another large pot.  Super thick stems, production has been reasonable.  We have picked about 3 tomatoes that have been quite tasty.  Massive tomatoes that are very heavy.  The plant now keeps busting out of the tomato support so we keep having to tie each branch up to a support. We do have a lot of green tomatoes but each tomato tends to mature very slowly. Grade Received? A for production amount and taste.  
  • Brandywine: This one is rather small but it has produced about 4 ABSOLUTELY delicious tomatoes.  When I say delicious I mean really mouth watering.  These are, by far, the tastiest tomatoes I have every tried!  The size of the plant could possibly be in part due to the location in the garden.  The plant is flanked by larger tomato plants on almost all sides so it could be it just doesn't get enough sun.  Or it could be that its in a lower part of that bed and maybe it just gets too much water. Grade Received? A+ for TASTE alone!
  • Cherokee Purple: This plant is really small, and has produced maybe one tomato.  Once again. It could be location.  It's hard to say.  The one tomato it produced was good, but not anything that I can recall as being awesome.  It was definitely better than store bought but not the greatest.  Grade Received? C+ for not producing enough
  • Amish Paste: Very tall plant, maybe about 10 feet tall.  We've harvested about 6 tomatoes so far, we have about 15 completely green on there and about 6 that are very close to being ready.  Taste isn't bad but we haven't been using these for snacking or sandwiches.  I've only used them in spaghetti sauce or salsa thus far.  Maybe next one that is ready I'll taste with a bit of salt.  Grade Received A for a good producer.
  • Christmas Grapes: Medium height, average producer.  We've taken about 5 off so far.  They're tasty but their taste pales when compared to the Dark Cherry Tomatoes. Grade Received? B for a somewhat tasty tomato and reasonable production.  
  • Black Krim: I know we planted this one but we have yet to see one tomato from it.  As a matter of fact I'm not exactly certain which plant is the one.  I do know we have a few unknown tomato plants that we have yet to get something from.  Unfortunately we used to have labels on the plants but they fell off.  Last year we grew black krims and we had awesome results so this will change the grade somewhat.  Grade Received?  B only because last year we had great success with a Black Krim while this year we have yet to see one tomato.
Next, the cucumbers.  
  • White Wonder: Good sized vines, average producer.  The cucumbers are a bit hardier, the skin rather tough.  We only had about 2 vines and both of them are fizzling out, I think due to the high heat we've been experiencing.  I think we've gotten about a total of 6 cucumbers total.  This could be all due to the fact that the area that they're growing in is rather cramped.  I might try sowing a few more seeds to see if I can't get some late season cukes if I can spare the time.  We'll see.  Grade Received? B due to the average producing, lost a bit since they're kind of tough and the flavor is mediocre.  Only reason I grew these were they were free from Burpee.
  • National Pickling Cucumber.: Not bad producer but NOTHING like last year!  I think we've managed to get about 10 total off the vines.  It could be for the same reason of the white wonder.  It is cramped back there behind the tomatoes and all. Maybe also it doesn't like the soil this year.  We did change the acidity from high down to average this year.  Grade Received? B+ due to the high amounts harvested last year, taste when fresh and even better taste when pickled.  
  • Lemon Cucumber: Believe it or not I found the first two today!!!! Have yet to taste these but I have tasted them before.  This vine is HUGE and all I have to show for it are two cucumbers?  I'm wondering if this has to do with soil conditions.  Not enough fertilizer? Grade Received? B due to me giving them a chance to see if they can possibly redeem themselves and start to produce more.  
  • Ichiban: HEAVY PRODUCER! TASTY!  Superior Eggplant!!  We harvest at least 2 almost a week.  Grade Received?  A+ due to being a heavy producer and the taste.
  • Black Beauty: Slow as of yet but we are about to drown in eggplants!  We have about 10 that are all within the same fist size.  Within a week or so we'll be making eggplant Parmesan, ratatouille, and drying eggplant non stop.  Black Beauty eggplants are really delicious in all sorts of dishes. Grade Received? A+ for being such a great producer with a great flavor!
  • Brazilian Orange Eggplant: Have yet to see one produce or even any new vegetables growing.  We've seen flowers but those have been short lived.  I'm of the feeling that within about 3 weeks we'll see more.  They're supposedly very pretty.  We'll see. Grade Received? C due to lack of productivity and unknown taste.

Bell Pepper
  • Red Bell Pepper: Only have harvested one bell pepper thus far.  It was tasty, thick flesh, pretty color.  Now I'm waiting to see if more start coming in as is sometimes the case with bell peppers or hot peppers after harvesting the first one.  Grade Received? C+ due to lack of productivity thus far
  • Green Bell Pepper: No peppers harvested; small bell peppers on plant.  I'm wondering with these if again the problem stems from overcrowding and lack of sunlight, poor soil conditions, etc.  Grade Received? C due to lack of productivity thus far.  
Hot Peppers
Here is where it gets a bit murky.  I know we have a sweet banana pepper plant, I know we have a Mammoth Jalapeno plant, I know we have a mild Jalapeno plant but the last one is a mystery to me.

  • Sweet Banana Pepper Plant: Good producer.  We've only harvested one pepper but that one pepper opened the floodgates to the plant to produce more.  It now has approximately 7 peppers in varying sizes.  Within about a week they will all be ready to be picked.  Now the question is to dry them or to can them!  Peppers are mildly spicy but slightly sweet like a bell pepper.  Grade Received? A due to sudden productivity, and taste.
  • Mammoth Jalapeno: Slow producer thus far but this is entirely NOT it's fault.  Hubby WAY over fertilized this poor baby.  Almost killed the thing.  It's now making a comeback and produced it's first pepper.  It is also starting to regrow leaves to replace all those that were shed due to the massive over fertilization that it suffered.  The taste of these jalapeno are sweet, pungent pepper smell, but spicy underneath that completely takes you by surprise.  The heat sneaks up on you!  Especially in salsa! (which we just used the one on the plant in our Peach Tomato Salsa)  Grade Received? B+ due to the flavor of the one pepper we have picked thus far and also our plants gallant and courageous battle uphill to recover from our mistake.  
  • Mild Jalapeno: This one is a super small plant.  Looks like a little dwarf plant.  Now in all fairness, it could be that we have it in a really small planter and we started that one from seed.  We have yet to harvest from it but it does have a small pepper almost ready to harvest.  I'll be anxiously waiting to see if this pepper plant does what many of the others do.  Harvest one and suddenly the pepper plant gets the green light to produce tons more. Grade Received? C+ due to lack of productivity. Don't know if the size is what I should expect or not.
  • Mystery Pepper Plant: This one is a mystery simply because last year we collected a whole lot of almost dead hot peppers after they were affected by a frost.  We sliced them open and then threw them in a bowl and let them dry out.  Honestly we completely forgot we had them until my husband came across them and threw them into a dixie cup filled with starter soil, gave them some water and labeled them "UNKNOWN PEPPER"  This plant has now developed into a pretty impressive plant! Super tall, producing now massive amounts of curley cue peppers that are rather mild but surprisingly tasty.  In fact I just noticed I have one such pepper in my bowl of homemade kimchi that I ate today at work.  Obviously they get hotter as they get older because my kimchi was super spicy today! Grade Received A+ for superb taste and great productivity!
Red Russian Kale: This one is a bit hard to grade as I haven't even had any yet!  It's just now starting to get larger and it's just now recovering from the cabbage worm attack that destroyed a good portion of the leaves.  Thankfully it looks like it's fully recovering with a lot of pretty foliage!  Can't wait to try it out! Grade Received B+ due to the hardiness of this plant and it's ability to recover from a pretty damaging attack! It would have received a higher grade but I have yet to taste this!

Swiss Chard:  This one is doing quite well but just as of lately it has started developing black spots or rusty looking spots. We've eaten this once so far and it was really tasty.  Now the only negative is NONE of our seedlings that we started from seed ever amounted to much.  I don't know if it's due to lack of sunlight, they don't like the soil or what but they're barely doing anything.  TIP HERE! Just recently learned that part of the problem is since the hot, humid weather our plants have developed Cercospora.  Here is the info from Wiki regarding this fungal type of disease.  Looks like I'll be pulling quite a bit of our plants up.  Keeping my fingers crossed that the remaining swiss chard lives. Grade Received? B simply due to the fact that I have a feeling the lack of productivity is due to soil conditions, not the plants fault. 

Burgundy Okra: We unfortunately ONLY planted 8. Originally we thought this would be more than enough however we have learned this produces just enough to harvest two or three every two days.  That amounts to a very meager meal so instead I've been drying the okra after blanching it.  Great news is I'll have loads of okra to use come January/February and March.  Mix that with a bit of diced canned tomatoes or maybe some re hydrated onions in a casserole and you have a wonderful dish to remind you of the dog days of summer.  Now the plants that are growing ARE producing very well, no complaints there.  It was a bit of a lesson learned that these plants grow to a massive height!  Each one is about 4 1/2 feet tall!  SURPRISE! The stems at the bottom are almost thicker than my thumb!  Grade Received? A+ due to productivity and easiness to grow. 

Blue Hubbard Winter Squash
Let me just say, this plant has amazed me at how well it has done!  We have this growing vertically in the yard and the vine is humongous! Plus we have already harvested two squashes that were not exactly the most mature but they were still tasty and now we have yet another two on the vine.  I'm of the opinion that the soil conditions will not permit the plant to produce more than two squash at a time as each time two are on the vine we do not have as many female flowers.  As a matter of fact, currently our Blue Hubbard BARELY produces any flowers.  Must be putting a lot into the two squash hanging on our fence.  TIP HERE!  If you're producing heavy squash, pumpkin, melons VERTICALLY then save your orange/onion/apple mesh bags.  You can use these to hold the heavy melons up.  Just simply put the melon in the bag while still on the vine. Then close up the top using your zip ties and attach to something secure to hold them up.  This way the heavy squash will not pull the entire vine down. Works like a charm!
Grade Received? A for producing tasty squash, and so far producing four total.  I'm willing to bet we'll get at least one more out of these plant after the other two are removed from the vine.

Marina di Chioggia
I had such high hopes for this plant.  Seriously.  I had heard the flavor was sublime.  Awesome in gnocchi and pies or just baked. So unfortunately I have to report that it's not doing so hot. Now this I think is completely NOT the plants fault.  We never prepared the soil out front sufficiently for this.  The vines have been puny. No fruit set at all.  I am trying one last experiment.  I've planted two seeds in our other okra bed with hopes that I'll see SOMETHING other than small, insignificant vines.  Grade Received? C simply because I do not feel this lack of production is the plants fault.  This I think is more our fault.

I might write about a few of our other experiments this year but I have a lot more to cover so I want to end this blog for right now at least. Who knows, maybe I'll come back to this later if I have more to say.

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