Eggplants and peppers galore (and other veggies)
This year I had a bumper crop of peppers and eggplants, probably due to a combination of reasons: the varieties, having added composted manure to the veggie beds last fall, and the weather this summer, including earlier than usual warmth.
I grew 2 tried and true peppers that always produce well in my short and often unpredictable season: New Ace bell peppers, and Hungarian Wax banana peppers which are mildly hot. Both produced bumper crops, to the point that the plants were starting to flop to the ground. I also grew a new-to-me not hot banana pepper, Sweet Banana, an ASS plant which produced as prolifically as the Hungarian Waxes though they are a tiny bit smaller,7"x1 1/2", compared to the HW's 8"x2". I'll plan to plant that again next summer to see if it's as consistently prolific, but if so I've found a sort of replacement for my long-ago favorite, Montego, which is no longer produced, but had large size, thick walls, and great flavor.
I grew 4 types of eggplants: Rosa Bianca (small round pink and white), Hansel (deep purple long and thin), Gretel (white long and thin), and Dancer (rosy purple regular size and shape.) Aside from the cutesy Hansel and Gretel names, I'd grow all but the Rosa Bianca again. My RB plant only produced 4 small eggplants, so not worth the garden space.
As I was preparing the eggplants to make garden stew I noticed that the white-skinned ones (RB and Gretel) had more surface scarring on the skin, most probably sun damage, so I decided to do a taste test to see if there were taste or texture differences between them. I didn't try the Dancer since there's only so much sauteed eggplant I can eat at one sitting, but did try the other three. Gretel won, hands down. Both H & G had very tender, nicely flavored flesh, even this late in the season, but H had much tougher skin. Not an issue if you peal your eggplants (I don't) or if you are stewing them, but Gretel's skin was tender enough to be not texturally different from the flesh. RB had really dense flesh that remained firm even after the other two were meltingly tender, another reason to not grow it IMO. It might produce better for folks with longer seasons or high tunnels.
I have in the past grown a different long skinny eggplant, Orient Express (Johnny's Seeds) which I think has somewhat more tender skin and was always prolific for me, but no one seems to do plant starts of it, and I haven't had time to start veggie plants for the last few years.
So I am wondering how others' veggie gardens were this summer. A couple of other notable (to me anyway) veggie garden happenings: I actually harvested broccoli for the first time in about 6 years due to an apparent scarcity of the dastardly woodchucks that eat my plants quite consistently. I also for the first time had a few fall peas. I think mid-July was when the seeds were planted, but I'm not sure since they planted themselves from a few final peas that ripened on their own while the original vines were dying. I think I'll try to remember to do it intentionally next year.
I planted a yellow pear cherry-sized tomato that was a monster in size (covered an area 10x15' after it got away from me while I was out of town for 3 weeks in August) but produced more than we could eat or give away from mid-July until a hard freeze a week ago. Mild flavor, and totally disease free, even while my other tomatoes were succumbing to a variety of foliage diseases by late summer. I will definitely grow that one again!
I would welcome any suggestions of eating or canning tomatoes that are indeterminate (non-bush) and have a high disease resistance. We prefer tomatoes with a strong sweet-acid flavor, and I haven't found a replacement for Early Cascade which stopped being produced about 6 or 8 years ago. We haven't had great luck with heirlooms since many need a longer season and they tend to have low disease resistance compared to hybrids.