Would I admit that my enthusiasm for my nightly tomato platter is waning? To say that sounds like heresy to a gardener. But I can’t say that I contrition that my wonderfully productive plants, which have been bearing their generosity since June, for the most part poop (maybe a dozen green plants that have yet to ripen, and solargold keeps pumping). My taste buds are still shaking during the first two bites, but then I realize that the acidity is more pronounced than the balance for which I chose these varieties – Celebrity, Green Zebra, Stupice – and for the always beautifully flavored and productive Sungold.
I’ve grown other varieties this year, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with their growth or taste – though mandarin is plentiful enough to still add pieces of bright orange to my red palette. But the taste was mild and little cutting edge; good for the color, but that was it.
It’s nice to have the additional flavorful harvests of figs and beans, pumpkin and sweet pepper that are my harvest from forever. And I collected 6 jujube – “Chinese dates” – which I loved when we lived in Davis. Crispy and very sweet as an apple now, when still marbled in green and brown. If I let them ripen more, they would shrink and turn completely brown and have an even richer flavor reminiscent of dates.
I feel so virtuous about my crops when I see prices in grocery stores or even at farmers markets and acknowledge how much more I eat of all the vegetables and fruits because the plants continue to produce – that I certainly wouldn’t if I had to buy them!
Recommendations for each garden
My recommendations for new gardeners are threefold: 1) try at least once to grow everything that interests you, just for the experience, but 2) in general, grow what your family will eat, and 3) grow what will produce a lot of food for a long time in the room and in the conditions that you have.
For example, 1) grow corn once out of curiosity, but its long season to maturity and the need for a lot of space prevent the value of one or two corn cobs that you will get, 2) grow something new every season in the hope that your family will enjoy adding your diet and novelty to your regular list of ingredients, but do not continue to grow if you do not like it, and 3) grow indeterminate tomatoes, since they will continue to produce until frost., but do not wrestle to keep them alive in the winter, because they taste no better than those bought in the store and are therefore a waste of garden space and effort; instead, they grow what thrives in the cold!
Switch to the autumn garden
September is a transitional period. We never know what the weather will be like in the next two months, so we take advantage of the preparation for more summer and the switch to cooler weather. In this way, no matter what happens, something will grow successfully in our gardens.
In matter the weather stays warm, I plant all the summer crops that I can get in about 60 days.
For the most part, I rely on an early start with sowing and transplanting crops of the cold season. I buy in my favorite kindergartens all the seedlings that I can find from baby bok choy, broccoli, broccoli raab, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, coriander, kale, leek, lettuce, persil and spinach. The goal is to grow as much as possible as quickly as possible so that you can start eating them as soon as possible.
At the same time, I also sow seeds of all these varieties, since they are available in much more varieties than commercially in the form of seedlings. I also sow seeds of beets, carrots and kohlrabi right where they ripen, because they need to immediately lay their roots so that they grow directly and for a long time deep in the ground.
Sweet peas are also fine sown right where they grow. I put them on the other side of the cage of my edible peas, which is on a hill and therefore hardly accessible. Even though both species fix pods at the same time, poisonous sweet pea pods are so easy to distinguish from edible pods that are smooth fuzzy.