Great Expectations in the Garden

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.

young Early Butternut squash

young Early Butternut squash

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.

young Honey Nut squash

young Honey Nut squash

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.

young Sugar Dumpling squash

young Sugar Dumpling squash

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.

Tromba d'Albenga squash

Tromba d’Albenga squash

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.

Chef's Choice Green tomatoes setting on

Chef’s Choice Green tomatoes setting on

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.

Green Tiger tomatoes

Green Tiger tomatoes

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.

Aji Angelo pepper

Aji Angelo pepper

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.

Indiana Gold sweet potato plant

Indiana Gold sweet potato plant

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.

blooms on Trionfo Violetto bean

blooms on Trionfo Violetto bean

That’s a peek at some of what’s happening here at Happy Acres, and I hope you have enjoyed the update!

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18 Responses to Great Expectations in the Garden

  1. Phuong says:

    Your winter squash are doing so well and those green variety of tomatoes look so good. It’s shaping up to be a great squashy year for you. My winter squash haven’t even started running yet, but they were planted a bit late.

    How have those rainstorms been to you? We’ve had heavy rain everyday this week, as well as a couple little tornadoes. With all the rain the only badly splitting tomatoes were actually Aunt Ruby’s German Green, the only green variety I’m growing this year.
    Phuong recently posted…Harvest Monday, 7/4/16My Profile

    • Dave says:

      More rain here today, about 5 inches this week total. We had high winds a couple of times, but no tornadoes thankfully.

  2. Lis says:

    When did you plant your winter squash. I am I the same zone and I am curious because I just have blossoms.

    • Dave says:

      I started all the squash seed indoors on 5/1, and set out the plants on 5/23. That definitely gave them a head start on the season.

  3. K says:

    The squash look really good. I’ve got a container-type butternut I’m growing for the second year. I had fruit last year but moved before they were ready. I might have to try the Early Butternut you have, once I get a garden area suitable for viney things.
    K recently posted…The promise of things to comeMy Profile

  4. Margaret says:

    Well, you are way further ahead than me – all that squash is looking great! I’m growing 3 tromboncino, but I’ll not likely be inundated by as much squash as your two if the past is any indicator.

    I’ve not grown green tomatoes yet, but am curious – how would you be able to tell when they are ripe?
    Margaret recently posted…Garden Update – Area #1My Profile

    • Dave says:

      It can be tough to tell when the green ones are ripe, but usually they turn yellow/green and also soften a bit.

  5. Mark Willis says:

    Some great potential there, Dave! I wish I had enough space and sunlight in my garden to grow squashes. I love them and there are so many nice varieties available. The only green-when-ripe tomato I have grown was “Green Zebra” which was billed as super-tasty, but in my opinion was rather bland. I hope yours are better.

  6. Kaman Lai says:

    Hi Dave, I am just as hopeful as you are. My green cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen . Snap beans are doing well. Winter squash honey bear got one fertilized fruit. Butterscotch and Sunshine are beginning to flower…too bad only male flowers. Zucchini also getting flower buds. And finally got the Gold Nugget squash sprouted ..hope it is not too late to get started.
    And getting the daily inspirations from your blogging friends…
    I am using your seeding schedule s a reference. You recommend starting broccoli in late June. I am again late and trying to seed inside my house this week. Why Kolarabi in July and not June?

    • Dave says:

      Kohlrabi is generally quicker than broccoli, cabbage etc so it can be started a bit later. But June or July is really ok for kohlrabi. I started mine on 6/27.

  7. Kaman Lai says:

    Thanks for the info. Another question…like Mark I am having caterpillar trouble and had to harvest all my first and only four Kolarabis yesterday even they are on the smallish size but really enjoy eating them thinly sliced into my salad. Will definitely try the Kolarabi Kraut inspired by your receipe if I got another batch in next round’s planting. I tried covering them with wedding fabric but I guess did not seal the fabric well since the caterpillars almost devour 50% of the leaves. Also tried BT spray and had tried hand squashing them too. The feeding stopped for 1 week then the white butterfly came again yesterday. I am wondering what is the best method of dealing with caterpillars. I have a hard time setting up insect row covers.

  8. Michelle says:

    You do have a lot of good stuff on the way already. My squash is far behind yours, but with my long growing season it’s actually right on target. And look at that amazing Aji Angelo! I meant to get another plant going this year and forgot. I love purple snap beans, they are so pretty, but it seems like they aren’t very productive. I’m trying a third variety this year, another bush type and the production is disappointing. I opted to not grow a purple pole bean this year, so I’m interested to know how productive the Trionfo Violetto bean is for you.
    Michelle recently posted…Bed #4 UpdateMy Profile

    • Dave says:

      Last year the Trionfo Violetto did quite well for me, and stood up to the summer heat better than most of the other pole beans.

  9. Phila Gardener says:

    Everything looks great, Dave!

    I’ve also found Tromboncino to be a pretty good winter squash too, so you might let a few go and see what you think.

  10. Susie says:

    Ooh, your squash plants look so great! I have two tromboncino plants and will happily be overwhelmed if that happens. But no sign of any squash yet for me.

    Thanks for the clue on timing for the beans – I also have flowers now so I’ll look forward to the beans very soon!

  11. Julie says:

    I agree that gardeners are hopeless optimists! It seems that something always goes wrong, but that never stops us from trying again and again and again! I’m growing Dickinson pumpkin for the first time this year and it is doing extremely well. I have one plant with three pumpkins already- two are already turning orange and the third one is huge! I keep trying tromboncino and have yet to have much luck with it.
    Julie recently posted…Harvest Monday 7/11/16My Profile

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