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Time is ripe to give final grades on garden

Sun., Oct. 7, 2012

It will soon be time to harvest winter squash and pumpkins and store them for use during the fall and winter. (Susan Mulvihill)
It will soon be time to harvest winter squash and pumpkins and store them for use during the fall and winter. (Susan Mulvihill)

The chill in the air and changing leaf colors are signaling that another gardening season is coming to an end. We all feel a sense of urgency as we try to get those last tomatoes and other veggies to ripen before putting the garden to bed.

It’s also time for my final column of the season. Here is a wrap-up of how our vegetable garden performed this year:

Artichokes – This was our second year of growing Green Globes and they grew beautifully. Each plant produced several delicious artichokes.

Beans, Pole – I’ve been growing Italian Pole for years but also grew Spanish Musica and Smeraldo varieties this season as a comparison. The Italian beans outperformed both of the other varieties.

Cabbage – We had a problem with slugs in the cabbage bed, despite covering them with floating row cover, and using diatomaceous earth and organic slug bait. The harvest of good heads was below our expectations.

Carrots – The Bolero Nantes and Chantenay seeds had excellent germination due to being covered with boards for the first week to prevent the soil from forming a crust, which I learned about earlier this year. They produced an abundant crop of large, sweet carrots.

Corn – The ears on the Stowell’s Sweet and Luscious plants had spotty pollination. The kernels also went from sweet to starchy in just a few days so we missed out on a good harvest. I’ll try a different variety next time.

Eggplants – I got the plants off to a good start by protecting them with floating row cover. The result was much better growth and production than last year. Violetta Lunga was a productive new variety.

Onions – The long-day varieties of onion starts we purchased from Dixondale Farms developed huge bulbs. We’ll use the Walla Walla Sweets first since they don’t keep well and store Copra and Big Daddy in our basement once they’ve dried out.

Peppers – The Corno di Toro and Corno Giallo plants grew 24 to 36 inches tall and provided us with a lot of long, sweet peppers. We had poor germination of the Jewel-Toned Bells.

Pumpkins – The New England Pie, Spookie Deep Sugar and Rouge Vif d’Etampes all grew well, producing about a dozen pumpkins per variety. We’ll be indulging in tasty pies all winter long.

Salad greens – I really like the taste and texture of Garden Babies Butterhead lettuce. The green and burgundy Stardom mix makes a colorful addition to salads and is more heat-tolerant than most greens.

Squash, Summer – I grew more than I should but this was a great year for Romanesco and Astia Container zucchini. I believe they did well because I kept them under row covers for the first part of the season.

Squash, Winter – The Compact Early Butternut, Compact Delicata, Sweet Dumpling, Red Kuri and Sweet Meat plants produced about 10 squash each. I thought the season wouldn’t be long enough for the Sweet Meats but they are ready to harvest.

Tomatoes – We really like the Italian Pompeii for saucing but were a little disappointed in how small the Stupice salad tomatoes were. Sungold cherry remains my all-time favorite; Amsterdam and Solid Gold grape tomatoes were fair.

We also grew two Black Pear tomatoes, one of which had been grafted onto hardier rootstock. That one grew taller and has more branches and larger leaves. It is definitely more productive than the conventional plant, having more than 60 ripening tomatoes on it compared to 30 on the non-grafted, and the grafted tomatoes are larger as well.

I will continue posting gardening tips and information – including a final report on the grafted tomato experiment – on my blog through the fall and winter months. You can follow it at susansinthegarden.

Susan Mulvihill can be reached via email at

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