Friday, August 31, 2012

2012 Garden Faves

I think I can safely pass judgement on my plantings this year at this point.  Nothing is going to go above and beyond from here on out.

To see a list of what was growing in the garden this year check here.

Most things did just fine considering the wonky growing season we've had but a few really stood out from germination to harvest.

Pacific Pearl onions
Pacific Pearl Onions were one of the standouts.  Germination was great, no pests bothered them, and they kept me in green onions and then pearl onions until late July.  Small, tasty, fast growing, and the small size meant bulbing was not an issue.  Small size also meant that potentially they could be productive shoved into any nooks and crannies of the garden without needing to have extensive spacing for bulb production.

Royal Burgundy Bush beans were another standout, while they aren't particularly suited to canning, these beans far outproduced Fortex and Speedy.  They are still cranking out beans, and despite the slug damage to them they have survived and produced remarkably.

Royal burgundy beans w/ zucchini, peas, and other beans
Sugarsnax 54 carrots.  These carrots had better germination than the other two varieties I planted, they grew faster, larger (though they are a long slender carrot), with fewer growth abnormalities, and were absolutely delicious.  I will definitely be planting them again.

Parel cabbage, Sugarsnax 54 carrots, lettuce
Parel cabbage, makes a softball sized head and has once again outdone the competition.  It's competition was supposed to make larger heads but instead sat in the garden for another month without growing any larger.  I think I'll stick to Parel, though I will likely continue to test other varieties as well.

2011 Cinderella pumpkins
Cinderella pumpkin (not actually planted this year), this year's pumpkins have been bleh.  Fairytale didn't even put on a single female flower, Small Sugar pumpkin put on a few but they are still very small and green.  This year's weather i'm sure had something to do with it, but I have to say i was so impressed by Cinderella last summer that I will call it a two year standout.

Amazing cauliflower.  While I liked the color of Graffiti, Amazing really was amazing.  As a Spring crop it actually maintained a tight head, and while the heads I picked seemed small I was very happy with the overall growth, production, and flavor of this self-blanching variety.

Center: Amazing cauliflower
Marketmore 97 cucumber was my best producing cuke this year.  I don't know that i'd specifically recommend it other than the fact that it coped much better with the cooler summer than any of the others did.  Flavor was ok, but it was most definitely not burpless, and after one massive burst of harvest it slowed down to nearly nothing.  Still it produced better than the Lemon or either of pickling cukes.

My kale and lettuce were both mixed seeds, but lettuce was fantastic and i'd definitely recommend either the mix I bought or the individual varieties.  Slo-Bolt, Red Sails, Valmaine, Salad Bowl, and Buttercrunch.  The kale was a good grower as well, and delicious!  But the lettuce mix outdid it by a long shot.

Kale, chard and onion
I also have no misgivings at all about recommending both varieties of peas that I planted: Cascadia Sugar Snap peas and Oregon Sugar Pod II Snow peas.  They were outstanding this year due to the cooler weather and handled the few days of blazing hot weather with aplomb, returning to bloom as soon as it cooled again.  They were also both delicious, fresh or cooked.

Bright Lights Swiss Chard did well in the garden also, as did Black Beauty zucchini, though I don't recall the slugs eating up my zucchini as much last year. 

Oregon Spring tomato
Oregon Spring tomato, this tomato has stood out previously in the garden as the very first to produce, but this year it stands out as the ONLY slicing tomato to produce ripe fruit.  Very tasty ripe fruit I might add.  While Beaverlodge plum has produced a few ripe fruits their flavor is not as good, nor are they as large.

Bowl of Chocolate Cherry tomatoes.
Chocolate Cherry also deserves some respect for being volunteers this year that outdid every other cherry tomato in the garden and most of the non-cherries, and being bigger and healthier as volunteers than most of the plants from direct seed.  They are tasty fruits and should get a high five for doing so well with no assistance on my part.
Nearly everything else has not been particularly impressive this year.  

So my faves from the 2012 season?  Pacific Pearl Onions, Royal Burgundy bush beans, Sugarsnax 54 carrots, the lettuces, Cascadia and Oregon Sugar Pod II peas, Oregon Spring tomato, and Chocolate Cherry tomato.

Anyone else have some recommendations of winners from their 2012 gardens?


  1. I'd have to give a shout out to Pixie and Gonzales cabbages. Both are the small varieties, Pixie being slightly larger. My favorite cherry tomato is Una Heartsock, a large plum shaped one that is good in salads and prolific enough to toss in the pot for sauce. A toss up for two more salad sized (small) tomatoes is between Victor and Bloody Butcher, both very early and fruitful. I fell in love with Velour, a purple bush bean, this year. They gave me double the harvest of my previous favorite. I always love Red Sails and Buttercrunch for lettuce, and Little Gem is a great small romaine. I regretted not growing Sugar Lace snap peas this year, they will be in my 2013 garden. Happy Yummy Sweet peppers, an accidental cross from Dave will be a sure thing for next year's garden, hoping they grow true to this year's. Fortex beans were underwhelming this year, due to insect attacks, but have always been a favorite in the past.

    1. Is Bloody Butcher an heirloom variety? Because they look great and I obviously need to be planting more early producers. lol. I'm hoping to get more heirlooms in the garden too. Oregon Spring is open-pollinated but too young a variety to be considered heirloom.

    2. It is an OP heirloom variety. At least Baker Creek Seeds has it listed as such. It's very early.

  2. Love these end of the season reviews on what people like and don't like. It helps ALL of us do better planning. I've planted Mokum carrots for years, but the LOUSY germination of it has me looking for an alternative. Your SugarSnax sounds like the ticket. Thanks!

    1. Sugarsnax did have better germination this year than Atomic Red or Little Finger. They are a long slender carrot though, super sweet flavored and obviously best for fresh eating. I don't think they'd store well, because they have nearly no peel to them. just to warn you in case you were looking for a good one for storing and cooking with.

      (I'm glad this is the kind of post you like to see, it's the kind I like to see too, thanks!)