We had such a mild winter last year that the Beedy’s Camden kale survived and thrived in the spring. I had all the kale I wanted, but I needed room to plant new seedlings. So when the existing plants started flowering, I would harvest most of the larger leaves and plan to come back and remove the plant. When I did, the plant had new growth and I couldn’t bring myself to pull it. This went on until late summer. Meanwhile I planted the seedlings in the bed where they were shaded by the existing plants. What I planted was Vates Dwarf Curled kale seedlings I started myself. The Vates is a curly, dark blue-green kale that is very cold hardy. The plants have survived the cold weather so far and I did cut some leaves last week. I like this type of kale but next year I plan to go back to the Beedy’s Camden, it really is a great kale.
I had good luck with the Green Wave mustard. It has light green, frilly leaves that are sweet and tasty. It is pretty bolt resistant and I was able to cut leaves for an extended period. When it did start to bolt, I cut off the flower stalks, which seemed to stop the bolting and eventually I got another cutting from it. What I probably should have done is just pull it out and replant it for the fall, since it is cold tolerant. I will definitely plant it again next year. And it wasn’t bothered by flea beetles, while just a few feet away my eggplants were being drilled!
I planted Sugar Ann snap peas and Oregon Sugar Pod II snow peas. I usually plant 4 squares of each and place a low fence around the bed for support. The problem with the snap peas is they tend to be too tall for this method to work and really need to be trellised. The Sugar Ann was supposed to be more compact, described as a dwarf plant 10-24 inches high, Well, mine got leggy and then slumped over on the snow peas. The whole mess then started leaning over the beets, shading them. I need to come up with a better support strategy. Production was good, particularly the snow peas. I was really happy with the choice of Oregon Sugar Pod and will plant it again.
Peppers were a failure again this year, the second year I have grown them in raised beds. You would think peppers would grow well in the loose, well-drained soil mix I use, but the last two years have been troublesome. Both years the pepper foliage seems pale, almost yellowish. Plants fail to put on enough size to produce a lot of fruit. Of course, we had an extended period of hot weather that inhibited flower set that didn’t help. The peppers that have done OK are the Thai and jalapeno peppers.
Radishes and turnips
Radishes were almost a total failure this year. I had stopped growing radishes because of cabbage root maggots, but the flies don’t seem to be a problem in the community garden. Most of the radishes this year just bolted and the few that got harvestable size were pithy. Varieties planted were French Breakfast, Cherry Belle, and Icicle. I got just a few of the French Breakfast. I assume heat was the problem and I will try planting earlier next year. The Tokyo Cross white turnips, planted in the same location and conditions as the radishes, did very well while the radishes did not. Next year I think I will plant more turnips and fewer radishes.
I had a very good year for summer squash. I kept them covered until they started blooming, then uncovered them to allow pollination. The squash bugs did not seem as bad this year, although I did remove a lot of eggs from the leaves. I set out trap boards and early on the boards worked pretty well. I was also happy with the varieties of squash planted. I planted Sunburst again this year, a yellow patty pan that was very prolific. The Dunja zucchini was a little slow in starting but produced fruit all season, up to cold weather. And it was fairly resistant to mildew, as promised. Finally, the Costata Romanesco squash, an Italian variety, produced early and very well until it succumbed to mildew and wilt. All are candidates to be planted next year, when I swear I will check the plants carefully every day so I don’t get anymore baseball bats.
Swiss Chard (Silverbeet)
Swiss chard was another winner this year after several years of failure. In years past something would eat the plants or seedlings and they never got started. This year my Orange Fantasia chard survived ( I set out four and two survived). This is a beautiful variety with orange stems and dark green foliage. I filled in the holes in the bed with some robust Bright Lights plants I found, and they also did well. I had cuttings up until hard freeze.