In my previous post, I wrote about the seven varieties of tomatoes currently growing in my garden. Like many other gardeners, I give tomatoes top priority when deciding what to plant each year. There are several reasons for that decision, and flavor is certainly among them. There is simply no comparison between a ripe, juicy fresh-from the vine tomato and its store-bought counterpart. If I was forced to choose only one fruit or vegetable to grow, I would choose tomatoes, without giving the matter a second thought.
Fortunately, however, I do not have to make any such choice, so there are several other veggies that end up in my garden year after year. Among them are:
Jalapeno Peppers – In late winter, I started 10 plants using seeds from a packet bought the previous year at a locally owned farm supply store. They were strong, healthy plants and were growing quickly. Then it happened. Despite the many and varied precautions that I have learned to take over the past nine years, despite housing my baby veggie plants on tall wire shelving units, despite shielding them under plastic domes, it happened. Kepler, a.k.a. Plant Killer, the Feline Destroyer of All Green Things, managed to get his furry little paws on them. By the time I intervened, five of the plants were beyond hope, and the rest were tattered and bruised. It took time, but the five survivors did recover and are now in the garden. I bought a pack of six more plants from a local nursery, to replace the ones that were destroyed. The label on the pack just said that they were jalapeno; it didn’t specify a variety.
Cucumbers – There are currently four plants of a dual-use variety called Early Morden, which is good for both pickling and for slicing, growing in a raised bed. The plants were started from seeds purchased through an organic seed company. The vines are short and bushy, making them great for growing where space is limited. Two more seedlings will join the four bigger plants in a week or so.
Zucchini – For the past several years I have grown a summer squash called Tromboncino. I have found the seeds for this unique squash in only one company’s catalog. I have raised it every year for several reasons. The flesh of the long, trumpet-shaped fruit is firmer and richer tasting than a typical zucchini. The plants are consistently prolific, each yielding many pounds of food, in part because the squashes can grow quite large without losing their flavor or becoming tough. Also, the vines are almost completely resistant to squash borers, which is a big advantage if, like me, you are squeamish about digging those grubby little things out of your squash vines and stabbing them to death. But there is a drawback to this otherwise wonderful summer squash; the vines are huge and sprawling, usually growing a good 10-12 feet long, and sometimes more. So, in the interest of saving space, I am trying a more common, compact variety of zucchini called Grey Griller. I bought the seeds through a catalog, which described the fruit of this variety as having a firmer texture than most others. There are four plants growing rapidly in the garden. Time will tell whether the advantage of their smaller size outweighs the Tromboncino.
Butternut squash – Another variety that is new to the garden this year, JWS is a hybrid variety. Again, I chose to try it out because, as described in the seed catalog, it offers the benefit of compact pace saving vines. There are six plants, all growing well. I love the flavor of a good butternut squash, so I am looking forward to finding out how these will taste.
Blue Hubbard squash – This is definitely not a space saver, and over the years I have had more failure than success with this huge variety, so I have only one plant. I like the dry nutty flavor of roasted and mashed hubbard, but mostly I grow them just because it’s fun and interesting to raise such a giant squash.
Do you grow squash?