Winter is arriving and very little is happening now in the vegetable garden apart from harvesting. After a long season, I am usually pretty keen to not do much outside until July when I kick start a new season of vegetable seedling germinating in the hothouse (I do add some compost to each garden bed in June). A new season brings a fresh start and much hope for the coming season ahead and trialing new varieties plus those we know work.
After a few bleak days, below shows some snapshots of what is currently growing in my vegetable beds. Garlic is just showing itself also and broad beans went in a week ago.
Vegetable growing Season 2020/21 wrap
The past season has been another up and down one following on from the previous cool summer. Based on the data from my weather station shown below, it was actually a bit cooler than 2020. What was strange was in Spring, September was warmer than October based on avg max, and then November was also warmer than December. This pushed tomato harvests back again with March being the main window for picking the bulk. December proved cool, wet and humid. The first tomato I picked was by Super Arctic Cherry and closely followed by Golden Nugget. Golden Nugget produced more so not sure I will add Super Arctic Cherry to my yearly varieties as it was a smaller plant yielding less (suitable for pots), but still given it is early worth growing now and then. I have seed for growing seedlings this year but not enough to sell as seed yet. Kotlas, Moskovich, Stupice, early Annie (did get blossom end rot sadly and tried to keep water up), early cascade, Oregon Springs, Legend, Mary Italian and even Cherokee Purple plus others provided some January fruits. Of the varieties I grew this year, I was very happy with Mary Italian as a medium to large red beefsteak as it ripened early plus Isis Candy cherry (lovely flavours), Black Truffle (seed for seedlings only at the moment), Moskovich, Lutschist Zurich, Cherokee Purple (Still one of my favourite tasting tomatoes), Oregon Springs (nice large red tomatoes on a bush and early) and dwarf blazing beauty (still alive in the hothouse and producing a few fruits). Brandywine needs a bit more warmth but is an outstanding tasting tomato and the majority of harvests came in March. The biggest disappointment was Cherokee Red (no relation to Cherokee Purple I believe). It suffered from Septoria leaf spot in December so will have to give it a go again but it may need it a bit warmer in December. I have been impressed with the dwarf tomatoes from the Dwarf Tomato Project. Strong plants, easy to manage with a nice variety of tomato types. I have many varieties I am growing out this year for seed (ie: Tasmanian Chocolate – available now and blazing beauty will be up soon). see Tomatoes here.
The usual suspects still performed such as Moneymaker, Rouge de Marmande, Gross Lisse (not my favourite for taste but yields well in the Feb – March slot), black cherry/Russian, Tommy Toe. Legend was later than usual and I got most of my yields in February. I planted a few late ones after accidentally selling all my Roma and Green zebra seedlings and they produced well in March – Green Zebra (fantastic flavours), Juanne Flamme, Roma plus a new one for me, Red Colossus (Roma type but a bit earlier to ripen, and it did – seed being saved). Golden Sunrise came up on its own from the homemade compost and it again produced heavily. Not my favourite flavours but yields very well. Important to note that we all judge taste differently. The highest yielding cherry of the ones I planted this season was Salad Special. It went in late November, and produced bucket-loads in March through to the end of April. It is actually still outside in the garden barely hanging on along with a self germinated Riesenstraube. I should have pulled all the fruit off but some are still on the plants ripening. I will get them off today given the frost forecasts (got lucky as it was forecast last night but I didn’t get a frost).
Spring was quite erratic and I believe the extended cold snaps forced early plantings of Brassicas in particular into bolting if they where not covered with fleece. The previous year we had a cool start to summer, but spring temps where conducive to solid Brassica performances. We are at the mercy of mother nature without the fleece. Most Asian Greens did not like the spring weather for me. Warm one month then colder the next.
Zucchini does was it does, produces bucket-loads and I particularly enjoyed the Cocozelle and Costata Romanesco (seed available soon). Pumpkins where acceptable for those sown or planted in December. I ended up with enough Qld Blue, Sweet Grey F1, Golden Nuggets and Sweet Dumplings to be covered for most of the year. I forgot to plant jarrahdale.
Winter is the easiest time for Gardening. Soil moisture is consistent and the winter lovers do well such as the Brassicas and Silverbeets and Asian Greens. If you struggle with Broccoli and Cauliflower, it is a good chance you are not doing too much wrong, it is the variety failing you. If you are a family of 2, Di Cicco Broccoli with its small main head may be fine, but for the space they take I want decent yields so in future have a look at what I have for sale. I will only sell what has worked for me or will at least make a comment in the seed description if it is a small head producer (I know people who largely want side shoots and that is completely fine). I have some very high quality varieties coming from the US at the moment. Below shows an accidental trial. I forgot to thin to one plant of Broccoli marathon F1 and they are now producing twin broccoli from the same spot. Will be interesting to see what size they can get to.
I would love to hear about your wins and losses and favourite varieties so please leave a comment. It really does help gardeners to know from each others experiences.
Enough of my rambling.