Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Update

The garden has performed amazingly well this year, considering how little time I have been able to dedicate to it. Over a dozen quarts of potatoes are safely put up in mason canning jars, as well as peas, butter beans, tomatoes, salsa  and pickled peppers. September has settled in and I have been harvesting and freezing fresh peas and okra for several weeks now. 

This year one of my main goals was to try several varieties of cow peas to see which one performed the best, and I am very pleased with the results. My fingers hurt from so much shelling, but I have put up many quarts and cooked several meals from the bounty already. Of the several heirloom varieties I tried, three came out the clear winners, and I have collected enough seeds to grow them as main crop rows next year. 

The winning varieties were: Red Zipper, Turkey Craw and the Colossus. 

While these three stood out for different reasons, the choice was based on the following criteria- yield, taste, insect resistance and lastly, ease of shelling and how well mannered the plants were in the garden. Some of the varieties were vine-like, sprawling all over the place making cultivation and garden maintenance difficult. The Holstein produced beautiful and good tasting peas, but precious few of them. The Red Zipper produced lots of long, easy to shell pods over an extended period. The Turkey Craw produced a smaller yield and smaller pea, but with exceptional taste. The Colossus was just a super fat pod that shelled with the greatest of ease and good flavor.

And then there is the okra... 
I have eaten so much fried okra this summer that I feel like I have been in heaven. And I have frozen more quart bags than I can count, all from about 20 plants, which are still producing madly now at over six feet tall.

The peanuts are doing very well and I am excited to see the total yield when I harvest them. Last weekend I planted Mustard Greens, Spinach, Kale, lettuce  and Collards for the fall crop and they are up and growing. Peppers are so abundant that I am giving away about a half bushel per week. 


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