Eggplants and peppers galore (and other veggies)

NHBabs(4b-5aNH)October 22, 2012

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.

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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

We stuck to peas, tomatoes,peppers and basil this year, because we were planning on working around the house more. We also bought a 1/2 share of an Organic CSA for the season and just picked up our last box of vegetables this week.

We had a good harvest this year. LOTs of all of the above. We ate so much basil we were almost getting sick of it. Still have a bowl of peppers in the refrigerator and have been sauteing onions, peppers, and mushrooms every night and putting it on top of everything.

We had cages around all the pepper plants to keep them upright with the weight of mature peppers. I wish I could say which peppers we had this year, but I just went looking and I guess I didn't write it down and have no idea where I put the tags. I usually grow Marconi Peppers which I've found to be early and prolific, but they were out at Russell's when I went in the spring and I asked them for a substitute.

Thanks for the review on the eggplant. I usually grow that and will try one of those varieties next year.

I have been fairly unimaginative in our Tomato selection due to the fact that we have encroaching shade that is making it difficult to produce a standard size tomato. We continue to love Sungold cherry tomato, as our favorite. We grew that again this year and we kept picking them and they kept coming. I've been experimenting adding a tomato to the front perennial bed that has full sun and have planted 'Bush Champion' for two years now. They only get about 3 ft tall and I had success staking them and caging them and keeping them hidden from the street. They have been surprisingly good tasting, disease free, medium to large size and abundant. The only complaint I have, is that they grow very densely and there are a LOT of tomatoes in the middle of the plant with a lot of foliage and I think they need more air circulation. Russell's said they had a better one for me to try next year, so Sungold Cherry continues to be our best tomato.

Have you tried asking over on the Organic Vegetable Garden forum?

OH....and Cornell has a website for reviewing Vegetable Varieties that I always check when I want to try something new.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cornell Vegetable Varieties

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 5:34PM
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I had a decent season with my veggies this year, despite me not giving them as much attention as I gave my flowers. I am still harvesting peppers and zucchinis (though not for long, I know!); the beans finally finished two weeks ago, and the cucumbers were going crazy all summer. We had much more than we could eat. My tomatoes were only so-so. I grew everything from seed but I can't remember what varieties I grew. My raised beds were new this year and everything was planted in 100% municipal compost, which I know is very controversial. It was free, and the veggies did fine in it.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 7:39PM
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franeli(z4 NH)

I had a very good vegetable season and my freezer is packed!

I grow eggplant in large pots:From Park's, 'Prosperosa': a round lavender colored one that has white,sweet flesh and Park's
'Whopper hybrid' (a smaller version of 'Black Beauty')
Both around 65 days,yield for me about 7 fruits and both good for eggplant parmesan or simple broiled slices.

The pepper I have grown for many years is called'Turino'
It is a large,early red(August),Italian type, sweet pepper.
Freezes well. Seed has been from Fedco.

Johnny's 'Bon-Bon' was exceptional this year. 11 buttercup squash from each of 2 plants.

I had a mix of broccoli types, 24 spring plants + 36 for fall.

Tomatoes: well,every year is a challenge. 'Pruden's Purple','Juliet' and new this year 'Honey bunch red grape'(wow, this was a real treat) all from(Fedco).

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 11:06AM
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Prairiemoon, thanks for the link to the Cornell site.

It was a GREAT year for peppers and I learned last year to start putting cages around them. One plant was a pepperoncini but not the typical kind. One reference said it was very disappointing. It doesn't have the same taste. It was a very prolific plant, however. I just don't know what to do with all those peppers. (Cigar shaped, not hot.)

As usual, I lost plant markers or they faded away. I meant to write new ones because the grower's marker always fades. I love being able to get one each of things but I don't know what I grew! One bell pepper type was enormous but really, I think too big.

Tomatoes got some kind of disease but I think it was bacterial speck. I did not think they did as well as last year when I remember getting a large harvest of Amish paste. I've got to cut down on the number of peppers and tomatoes I grow. I buy too many plants.

I was thrilled to have green beans until that frost hit. I grew a Romano variety for the first time since the seed was free and I liked the flavor. Usually we get touched by a light frost in mid-Sept so I use a fabric covered low tunnel to protect a late planting of beans. Didn't keep them warm enough, however, when the temp got down to 21.

Sungold is definitely our favorite yellow cherry, too. I've grown a dark red one "black" but I don't care for the flavor. I'm looking for a reliable large yellow tomato. This year the one I grew was so large it was like a beef steak. One slice covered a deli roll.

Tried ground cherries for the first time but the resident brazen chipmunk got all the early ones. Not sure if the rest had time to ripen before the frost.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 3:07PM
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