We’re having a remarkably warm October here in Maryland, and some of the summer crops are still producing, but really, the season is over and it’s just a matter of time before it all goes in the compost heap. This post is about some of the varieties of tomatoes, peppers, beans and squash that did particularly well for me this summer. Please chime in with your own experiences and recommendations in the comments!
Tomatoes. Okay, so big does not necessarily equal good, but here’s a photo of some monsters that also tasted great, with a quarter for size comparison.
The top one is an unknown variety, I’m afraid, but really good (seed saved by MG Joslyn Read in France and grown locally for 15 years). To the right is Brandywine Sudduth’s Strain, always a winner, and to the left is Golden King of Siberia, which produced lots of delicious yellow fruits – not all as big as that one, but good-sized. Other varieties that did well for me were Chef’s Choice Orange, Old Ivory Egg (small, pale yellow, solid-fleshed), Aunt Ruby’s German Green (my own grafted plant), Rose de Berne, Momotaro, and Pink Bumblebee (a cherry).
In the African keyhole bed at the Derwood demo garden, our team grew several tomato varieties meant to remain shorter in height, of which two emerged as the winners: Waratah (out of the Dwarf Tomato Project) and Bush Goliath. Here’s Waratah, loaded with fruit:
They’ve remained relatively disease-resistant, too, and are still growing.
Peppers. The highest-producing pepper at Derwood is Jalafuego, a terrific variety of jalapeño that’s just covered with large fruit every week. In my own garden, I’ve continued to enjoy Pippin’s Golden Honey, a small sweet type that’s excellent in salads or sautéed to bring out its natural sugars. It’s a lovely plant in the garden, too, since all its variants in color from unripe purple through shades of yellow to ripest dark orange are present at the same time.
I also had a bumper crop of Corno di Toro (Italian frying pepper) this year.
Beans. We had so many beans at Derwood this year. My favorite has been the reliable, tasty, and long-producing Marengo Romano pole bean.
If you like Romano beans, this is a good choice – stays tender even when large, and is easy to find for harvesting.
Squash. The standout zucchini at Derwood this year was a yellow one called Butta. (As in “butter.”)
Week after week, even when covered with powdery mildew, the plants keep churning out these pretty squash. I haven’t tasted any, so I can’t report on the flavor, but they look great. The green squash in the photo is our favorite, Tromboncino, aggressively long-vining but resistant to squash vine borer as well as other pests and diseases, and tender even when harvested pretty big. Here’s a “twin” squash that we harvested last week – two fruits that grew together.
All in all, it was a pretty good year for the summer crops, despite the usual diseases and pests. I had some disappointments in trying to grow container varieties of okra (Jambalaya) and eggplant (Patio Star), both of which became overripe at such small sizes they didn’t seem worth persevering with, and not all of my tomatoes were terrific. But every year has pluses and minuses.
Tell me what grew well for you this summer! I’ll need something new to try next year, after all…
By Erica Smith, University of Maryland Extension Master Gardener, Montgomery County