Most gardeners I know are optimistic about what they are growing, and I am no exception. It takes faith to plant a seed or set out a plant, nurture it, and then watch it grow to fruition. The summer vegetable garden is in full swing right about now, and here are a few of the things I am watching with great expectations. I’ll start with the winter squash. Last year was not a good year for them, with a few exceptions, so I have great hopes that 2016 will be a better year. I have planted a mix of tried and true favorites plus some that I’ve never grown before. Early Butternut is one I’ve grown for many years, and this 1979 AAS Winner has never failed to deliver for me. It’s already set on four or five squash, so it is living up to the ‘early’ in its name.
I’m also growing two mini-butternuts that have smaller fruit than the Early Butternut. Butterscotch (bred by Johnny’s) is a 2015 AAS Winner with compact vines and six inch long fruit, while Honey Nut (bred by Cornell University) has four to five inch fruit on longer but still compact vines. Both are starting to set on fruit now, so they would appear to be not far behind the Early Butternut.
I’m growing quite a few Delicata type squash this year, since they are a favorite in the kitchen here. In addition to my old standby Cornell’s Bush Delicata, I’m growing Honey Boat again after it made a decent showing last year. Honey Boat has a copper colored skin and a sweet flesh, and I enjoyed all I got from it in 2015. This year I’m also trying three other Delicatas in the garden of various sizes and shapes, including the hybrid Sugar Dumpling, plus Hessel’s Sugar Loaf and Candystick Dessert Delicata. Sugar Dumpling is setting on squash already, so it would appear to have earliness going for it at the least.
Another squash that is back in my garden after a few years absence is called Tromba d’Albenga (aka Tromboncino). This is a prolific C. moschata winter squash that is usually eaten at the immature stage like a summer squash. I have two vines planted which may prove to be overkill if they both wind up producing well, but it is a problem I will gladly deal with if necessary! I do plan on experimenting (again) with dehydrating squash, and Tromboncino is definitely a candidate for that, as are the summer squash I’m growing.
It’s not all squash in the garden though. I have lots of tomatoes planted, and even though not many are ripe just yet the vines are getting loaded with green fruit. Speaking of green, Chef’s Choice Green is a ‘green when ripe’ tomato that is a 2016 AAS Winner. I grew Chef’s Choice Orange last year and it was a standout performer, so I have high hopes for its green companion.
Another green when ripe tomato I’ve grown the last couple of years is Green Tiger, and it is setting on lots of fruit too. It’s one of the Artisan Seeds line of small fruited tomatoes, of which I am growing quite a few this year.
It will be awhile longer before any are ripe, but my overwintered Aji Angelo pepper plant is already loaded with lots of green fruit. This mildly hot bacchatum pepper is so versatile in the kitchen that I can’t get enough of them, and I have certainly have great expectations for them again this year.
Last year was a great year here for sweet potatoes. I’m trying several new varieties this year, including an Indiana heirloom called Indiana Gold. All the vines are off to a good start, so now I just have to wait until they mature and are ready to dig, which is usually some time in early October here.
I’ll close with something that should be ready fairly soon. The Trionfo Violetto pole beans are about ready to start blooming. Once that happens, the purple podded beans won’t be far behind. It is the first pole bean to show signs of blooming, though the others shouldn’t be too far behind.
That’s a peek at some of what’s happening here at Happy Acres, and I hope you have enjoyed the update!