My Favorites From This Year's Garden

It seems that as soon as I finish mulching the perennials in the fall, the new seed catalogs start arriving. Today Thompson & Morgan arrived in full color. While I am tempted to start dreaming about next year’s gardens, I think it’s important to steal a few minutes and jot down some notes about the plants that really performed past expectations in the garden this year. Here at home I look first to the vegetable garden. Actually I should look first to the freezer as a reliable indication of how the harvest went.

I have always had good luck with peppers, both hot and sweet, but this year I was truly blessed. Outstanding among the hot peppers was a small, round, red variety labeled cherry red hot. I picked the plants up as seedlings at a local nursery and I have yet to find seeds by the same name. Although I saved some seeds from this year’s harvest, if anyone knows of a source for more seeds, I would be very appreciative. This is a delightful plant to grow. Beautiful color, unplagued by pests and disease and extremely fruitful. It was not uncommon to see a dozen ripe peppers on a relatively compact 18″ plant at any given time from July through frost. The flesh was quite thick for such a small fruit and holds up well with cooking. I’d say temperature-wise they are a step below jalapenos, but with a good bite while retaining a “pepper” flavor. And being round, they are the ideal shape for removing the seeds easily. One turn of a spoon scoops out everything, leaving the perfect bowl for stuffing and using as an hors d’oeuvre. I will definitely be growing these again next season.

Another vegetable I’d like to recommend is spaghetti squash. If you haven’t yet tried it, spaghetti squash got it’s common name because the cooked pulp comes out in strands like spaghetti, when you scrap it out with a fork. Prolific doesn’t do justice to this squashes’ growth habit. We had to add supports to our squash trellis, since they are a winter squash and take a while to mature on the vine. Luckily it’s an excellent keeper. If you don’t know what you would do with so much squash, I can attest that it is an excellent substitute for rice or noodles in curry, stir fry or primavera dishes. I noticed that the Burpee catalog had seeds for a spaghetti squash called “Hasta La Pasta” that matures in just 73 days and is billed as a compact plant. Maybe I’ll try this variety also and see if I can forgo the additional supports.

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