It’s that time of year again when seeds are being ordered, and I look back on previous years. What has done well, and what should I try differently? Here were the big winners of 2016…
LEMON SQUASH (summer squash). These were AMAZING. Firstly, they grow upright which is a huge space saver. (I grew 6 plants in a 8′ x 6′ area). I used conduit pipe 5ft out of the ground but by the end of the season the plants were growing far above that and toppling over a little. From my six plants I got 204 squash!! They are supposed to be the most disease resistant of the summer squash plants but that doesn’t mean you won’t get squash bugs and vine borers. You just have to check the plant every day or two. Funnily enough, I discovered I don’t really like summer squash but it does make a fantastic soup with onions and tarragon which I’ve been enjoying all winter, so I’ll be growing it again.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH (winter squash). These are fantastic keepers over the winter months. I harvested mine early September and they are still holding up well. From three plants I got about a dozen squash and really had to keep on top of the squash bugs, but it was totally worth it. I’ll be planting more this year, simply because they keep so well.
VERT GRIMPANT MELON. My first year growing melon and I chose this variety because the fruits are small (I live alone so perfect for one), and because I’m a sucker for anything old and European. They were grown on the ground but are really perfect for trellising so I might try that this year. From 6 plants I got about a dozen melons.
RHUBARB. After failing spectacularly with the rhubarb last year, I bought two more plants and placed them in morning sun, afternoon shade. They loved it! I had enough for jam all year and the plants should get bigger in year two.
GINGER. I use a lot of ginger, especially in the winter and had success growing it on a rooftop in Brooklyn, so I wanted to try it here in TN. I bought two plants (not the roots) from Baker Creek, planted it in April and harvested on Dec 1st. I’ll have to wait until the Spring to see if the roots I left in the ground have survived. If not, I still have some I bought inside in pots which I’ll plant out when the weather gets warmer. The rest of the ginger was peeled, cut up and stored in Brandy. The plan is to keep more and more back each year as the harvest gets bigger and bigger.
BUSH BEANS. – So easy to grow!! Got two great harvests but still have to figure out how to freeze them well. Mine went very tough when cooked from the freezer.
SUGAR SNAP & SNOW PEAS. – I built an A-Frame trellis and pea hedge trellises for the peas this year and had huge crops! While the regular garden peas freeze very well, like the beans, the sugar snaps and snow peas didn’t. They just got too sickly sweet once defrosted. Amazing straight from the garden though!
ELDERFLOWERS. While I planted the elderberry bushes last year, this was the first year to get elderflowers, and that meant finally having a go at elderflower sparkling wine. Another great addition to the garden.