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Kitchen Garden

2021 Garden Experiments

Rouge vif D’Etampes pumpkin from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Radicchio

I successfully grew radicchio this season, yet haven’t figured out how it fits into the kitchen garden. I pickled some of the leaves, added it to soup and stir fries, and besides saying I have it, there’s not much value in the crop. I have seeds leftover and may plant half a dozen head next season. Unless something happens in the kitchen to encourage the use, I won’t be buying more.

Rouge vif D’Etampes

These seeds produced four decent and visually appealing pumpkins. I haven’t roasted one of them yet although if the flavor is good, I’ll grow the remaining seeds next year. The trouble is pumpkins want to take over the space in which they are planted. They need their own plot. Regular Jack-O-Lantern and cooking pumpkins are ubiquitous in this area, so buying one is an easy solution to our pumpkin needs if the garden runs out of space. I still have two cups of frozen pumpkin flesh left from last season.

Cantaloupe

The seeds started but the vines didn’t do anything. Not sure of the reason but they were next to pumpkins, which may have dominated the smaller plant. Organic cantaloupe are available inexpensively at the grocery store, so this is another one that may be better to buy and use the garden space for something else.

Mustard Greens

Mustard grew well but it doesn’t fit in our kitchen. Because I want to have a variety of greens available, I’ll likely plant it for the third time next year. The main use has been to make pesto from the spicy greens. I also give it away.

Onions

The onion crop was what I wanted: plenty of onions in six varieties. I successfully started onions indoors, although next season the seeds should be started in December for a longer growing period before transplant. The starts I bought from the seed company performed well and I’ll get more in 2022.

Beets

Once again the beet crop mostly failed. I started them indoors and transferred them outside where a late frost killed most of them. I tried starting a second batch but it didn’t take. My goal is to produce enough to pickle a couple of quarts for the pantry. They taste so good, I’ll try again next year after reading up on cultivation practices.

Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and the rest

The 2021 garden was my most successful yet. The variety of produce was good, as was the quality. I made planned improvements, including a patch of kitchen greens with kale, chard, mustard, turnips and kohlrabi. The container potatoes produced well. Garlic is still curing and the heads are large and appear to be disease free. I’ll use my own to plant next year’s crop. There were plenty of cucumbers, eggplant, and other crops to make the effort worth while.

Moving lettuce under row cover made all the difference. We had plenty of lettuce until a week or so ago. There is a fall crop growing now. I grew four or five crops of lettuce in succession.

I grew the most tomato plants ever both in quantity and variety. The quality was excellent. I figured out how to vine cherry tomatoes so they produce a lot and are accessible and separate from the main tomato crop. The trick is planting them in a straight row. I used cages but one could use stakes and welded wire fence with the indeterminate vines. If I were buying new, I’d get six-foot fencing. There will be enough Roma-type tomatoes to can whole and plenty of slicers to give away. One thing I know is how to grow tomatoes.

The second year of the new pepper process produced good results. Ace is the main producer. I tried seeds sent free from a supplier for the rest, but it didn’t produce as expected. Watering peppers adequately is important. If I ever use drip tape for a crop, it would be for peppers first.

A gardener’s life is one of constant learning and experimentation. To be effective one has to spend time in the garden observing. We planted our first tomatoes at home in 1983 and grew a garden every year since then, except one. As I approach 40 years in the garden, I hope to continue for many more.

2 replies on “2021 Garden Experiments”

I must have a fondness for bitter, as I’m always for more radicchio in a mixed green salad. I love it mixed with other flavors when used instead of milder lettuce on a sandwich perhaps mixed with mild onions or radishes as the vegetable layer in a cheese sandwich. But how much of it could even I consume from a garden row of it when it’s ready? Ah, there’s the rub.

Liked by 1 person

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