So far it has been a mixed year in the garden, but not bad given the crazy weather. I had lots of germination problems, most with new seed stock seeded directly in the garden. One of 54 kohlrabi germinated, no mustard seeds despite planting them twice, 3 of 54 Jade bean seeds (and one was promptly eaten by something), half my Summer Dance cucumber, and all of the squash had spotty germination. One bright spot is the peppers and tomatoes, despite some disease problems. All of these were started indoors, of course.
A few weeks ago I was worried that I would lose all of my peppers to some disease that is still unidentified, but probably bacterial in origin according to the UMass extension. Whatever it was, copper spray fixed it and I have continued to spray weekly hoping to ward off the late blight that hit some of my tomatoes last year. I had to remove and destroy a lot of foliage but the peppers have bounced back nicely. Below I will show you how they are doing and I have a few questions for the varietal experts.
The picture below shows four Jimmy Nardello peppers in the lower left corner of the photo, with a row of Copra onions behind them and then a row of tomatoes trained up a trellis. Two of the Jimmy Nardellos are loaded with good sized peppers. and are still flowering. This is my first year with these peppers, so I assume I am going to let these turn red before harvesting them and doing that is not going to inhibit them from setting more fruit, right?
Look at the pepper in the back corner of the group, the one closest to the onions. Its foliage is a darker green than the other JN peppers, and here is what the fruit kooks like:
Even I know that is not a JN, maybe a sweet red cherry, which is another variety I started from seed. Hopefully it is not a Padron, because if I wait for it to turn red I will have an unpleasant surprise. My Padron have not yet set fruit so I have nothing to compare to, but I think the Padron pepper is slenderer and more yellow-green.
Here is another surprise. I started four Black Cherry tomatoes, selected the best two for myself and gave the rest away at the garden seed swap. One of the plants is much larger and setting cherries like crazy. The other, more petite, plant has now set some fruit and this is what they look like (and yes, I took care of that sucker in the foreground). I think this is Gilbertie, a paste tomato that produces 8-10 inch long fruit, which I am trying for the first time this year. You can also see some flea beetle damage on the lower leaves, something I have never encountered before with tomatoes.
I may have more surprises ahead. I labeled one of my four Padron peppers a mystery pepper because I wasn’t sure about its original location in the tray of soil blocks. I am now looking at one of my Lipstick peppers which seems to have foliage different from the other three. The problem goes back to my use of 3/4 inch soil blocks, made in rows of five blocks. Using that size block, I could pack a lot of blocks into a 1020 tray which was great because I only have a single heat mat. Labeling those tiny blocks is difficult, so I applied masking tape to the sides of the tray and wrote descriptions on the tape with a Sharpie. The trouble is the blocks, particularly the end blocks, tend to wander when the tray is handled, so I wound up with a few out of position. Next year I will have to try to be more careful. Hope the guy who got my Black Cherry tomato at the garden seed swap is enjoying my Black Cherry tomatoes.
One final item. My grafted tomatoes are healthy and doing fine, but they are dwarfed by their ungrafted control plants. Below is a photo of the grafted Juliet, which is about two feet tall and has set one truss of about five fruit. The next photo is the ungrafted Juliet, a monster plant that is suckering like crazy and has set multiple trusses of 8-9 fruit each. There is no comparison. Both are healthy right now so disease resistance is not a factor but may be later in the season. Right now I would have to say they were a waste of money.
There is a lot of gardening season still to come but so far my peppers and tomatoes are doing very well and making me happy, even dare I say, optimistic.