Thursday, 22 September 2011

Autumn harvest Aide Memoir


This year, following the ethos of the gorgeous (in a quirky sort of way but not quite as ravishing as Cleve West) Mark Diacono, the Socks decided to restrict their small veg planting area to unusual crops unavailable at the supermarket.  And tomatoes of course - but more about them later.  

The picture above is of our greenhouse grown purple tomatillos.  These were a real success, their flavour less sharp and fruitier than the bog standard tomatillo. These could actually be eaten raw as fruit as well as cooked into some interesting Mexican style stews.  The only drawback was they developed a leaf problem starting as small green spots, turning into big holes with the leaf eventually dying off.  This was oedema - a disorder due to overwatering and a humid atmosphere.  It didn't affect the fruits but looked rather unsightly which was a shame.  Apparently the purple tomatillos are more prone to it than the usual ones.

Lemondrop chilli

The lemon drop chilli (a rarer one from Real Seeds) was another success - grown in pots in the greenhouse a good cropper, hot fruits with a definite lemony taste.

Purple Venuzuelan

Another Real Seeds rarity was the Purple Venuzuelan chilli, a very attractive plant to grow but for us more ornamental than use.

Tomatowise we grew several varieties in grow bags in the greenhouse, 

Sungold -  (best ever cherry tomato) couldn't do without it

Black Krim - somehow ended up with only one of these and one too many Red Zebras (potting mix up). This plant was never healthy having both fasciation on one truss which died, and then some infection in the stem.  However the few large fruits we saved were extremely tasty and we will try this again.

Red Zebra - Sod's law that we ended up with one extra of these which were the least exciting. They were good croppers (still going) but not quite as well flavoured as the rest with a slightly floury texture.  Good for cooking or drying.

Green Zebra - by contrast these were gorgeous, fruitier than the reds with none of the flouriness.  A slightly lemony zing to them.  Late croppers and still going.

Outdoors and pot grown I used up some Black Cherry heritage variety seeds that had been kicking around .  These were quite delicious although as the weather got worse have been moved to the greenhouse - still bearing fruit.

Also outdoors Gardeners' Delight - a tad boring compared to the rest.


The Achocha 'Fat baby' (also Real Seeds) were a disappointment.  Grown outdoors in a bag they quickly spread out and climbed rapidly up the fence.  Sadly although they had a good crop the taste was negligible and they looked a mess.  Might have been more fun if I got the exploding variety.

Amongst the usual herbs and the Bedsock's mint collection we also grew 'quillquina' an unusual and rather attractive purple-stemmed see-thru plant with bluey green leaves, a little like coriander but more lemony.  Very good in salsas and unlike coriander, not prone to bolting.

We are still awaiting the outcome of the oca later in the season. We dedicated an entire (small) raised bed to this and although the foliage did look quite pretty it is now something of a mess.  We need to have a balance in our small garden as to what looks attractive and fits in with the general planting schemes and what we really want to grow to eat.  Veg and herbs really need to be 'doers' to earn a place.  Sadly, whilst we love courgettes, our bag grown ones were poor croppers and as usual got various leaf diseases which made them look unsightly particularly as they take up a lot of room.   

We are experimenting with growing various veg in re-usable 'bags'.  The Bedsock is less than happy with his newly bag planted purple sprouting broccoli  - it all collapsed overnight.  Don't tell him but yesterday I saw Spook rolling around on top of the bag!!!

As gardeners relatively new to growing a great deal from seed can anyone tell me which of the chillies and tomatoes will come true from seed if I collect them from this years harvest?


patientgardener said...

My Apricot Chillis were a disaster got dampened off. Are the lemon Drop Chillis hot - I only like mild chillis but they do look very pretty.

Arabella Sock said...

We still have apricot chillis but they haven't ripened yet. The lemondrops are quite hot but with an interesting aftertaste so not just heat. They are very pretty and both those and the purple chillies were classed as 'rare' but we had good rate of germination and survival from both.

Anonymous said...

We tried Red Zebra for the first time this year - just one plant, thank goodness - and were similarly disappointed. The skins seemed tough (despite being greenhouse grown) and the fruit not particularly flavoursome.
I rather like the look and sound of the lemon drop chillies though.

Victoria said...

Completely agree about 'Sungold'. I grew it outside this year, alongside 'Gardener's Delight' and they're both still going.

VP said...

My Sungold have been fab, but chillis not because I don't have a greenhouse :(

I've met the breeder of the Green Zebra tomato!

S.S. said...

I've found this year, not for the first time, that tomatoes from different plants (same variety, same growing medium & same location) can perform very differently in terms of both taste & yield. This can be very frustrating but is, I guess, half the fun of growing stuff.

MarkD said...

I think youll find you got it the wrong way round there...with me and Cleve I mean *huffs*.

I grew ochocha once..similarly under impressed

Arabella Sock said...

Hi Hillwards

It is very strange how red zebras are so different from the green. If you haven't tried the latter then give it a go - although as S.S. all toms seems to vary from year to year. I had sungold with really thick skins one year.

VP - it is interesting how long some of these toms have been around. I'm assuming Green Zebra must be a fairly recent variety as you have met the breeder. I've been trying to read up on all the 'indeterminate', 'F1 hybrid', 'heritage' stuff as I suddenly realised I didn't have a clue what half of it actually meant.

Arabella Sock said...

MarkD - there is just no pleasing some people! Quirky is good.