1. Drying beans – After the success of this years Borlotti crop I have definitely become a drying bean convert. I’m calling them drying beans but the truth is I don’t have any left to dry having eaten them all while fresh. I grew bush varieties this year but didn’t really leave enough space to plant the volume I would need to have enough for drying. Next year that will change. I plan to both devote more space to them and switch to climbers. I believe you can get a climbing Borlotti bean (not sure where from but I will seek it out if it exists) and The Witches Kitchen rates Purple King (which I already have seed of) as a good substitute for kidney beans so that is what I will try.
2. Different capsicum varieties – I had very varied success with capsicums this year. My overwintered plants were good early on but then stopped producing. My main crop though still hasn’t turned red. There is a reason for that – Sometimes it actually really pays to properly read a seed packet, that way you can avoid growing the capsicum variety that says: The OUTSTANDING large green fruit is sought after by both the home gardener and commercial grower, when you want red peppers. So next season I will grow red peppers. I will also grow more small peppers for stuffing like the Mini Mamas I posted about last week. I’m also thinking I could possibly find room for a long yellow variety as I think they look great.
3. Strawberries- I have loads of strawberry plants in the garden. The problem is that all are badly sited, don’t get enough sun and are very vulnerable to slug attack. As a result I hardly get any edible fruit. Now I don’t have the space to grow as many strawberries as we get through each summer, but I would still like rather more than I got this year. My plan is to try and grow them in hanging grow bags. This will save on space and also keep them out of reach of the slugs. The only downside is the kids wont be able to harvest their own as they will be too high up…..actually this is probably an upside isn’t it? If anyone has recommendations about varieties then please let me know.
4. Pumpkins- My pumpkins failed completely this year. Actually I think that should probably read I failed my pumpkins this year. Not only did I not give them enough sun I pulled them out just as they were thinking about setting some fruit. So really they shoudn’t be on this list as something to grow more of as I didn’t actually grow anything other than a few miserable looking vines this year. Next season though I will put them in as much sun as I can and also switch varieties. I was hugely jealous of all L’s posts about Golden Nuggets so I will grow them and if I have space I will try Ebisu. Ebisu is a Japanese variety that my father grew this year and it tastes great. Nutty, sweet (but not too sweet) perfect for roasting, even better for soup and it makes a great pasta sauce. I think it is dry enough to make superb gnocchi as well but I’ve yet to try as the kids are not keen on either pumpkin or gnocchi so a combination of the two might really be pushing it.
5. Rouge de Marmande tomatoes – Now I have to admit that despite the name of this blog I’m not actually a particularly good tomato grower. I seem to have endless issues with pests, growth rates, watering, fruit set etc etc. Through all that though there is one tomato variety that seems to produce regardless. It resists the pests, sets a good volume of fruit and tastes good, and for me that variety is Rouge de Marmande. I think that part of my issues with growing tomatoes is that I keep getting seducing by the idea of different varieties. Rather than growing a decent number of plants of varieties that I know will perform I’ll grow one plant and experiment with a whole heap of others. All the changing varieties means that I never get to really build much knowledge around the perfect growing conditions for an individual variety. Next summer things will be different. I will grow mainly Rouge de Marmande and just a couple of other varieties to see how they do. That way I should get a good crop while; enabling me to build my knowledge of growing Rouge de Marmande, and at that same time indulging my need to try other things.
Need another top 5, The New Goodlife is in the kitchen this week.