Top 5: Things to grow more of next summer

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.

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41 Responses to Top 5: Things to grow more of next summer

  1. Lrong says:

    Ebisu is a lovely pumpkin to eat… we are growing quite a bit of that… your beans have a very color and pattern… good luck with your gardening…

  2. Great post Liz. My current problem is too many veg on my wish list and just not enough space. For me next summer it will be more potatoes, beans, Armish Paste tomatoes (or at least more in optimum positions), pumpkins and strawberries. Like you I grew plenty of plants and got very few berries. My pumpkin vines have spread over the whole garden on one side of the house and grew only two actual pumpkins, one of which I accidently harvested way too soon when I was trying to get rid of the non-productive parts of the vines.

    • Liz says:

      Tell me about it – I have already run out of space for winter and have yet to plant the majority of my brassicas, let alone onions or broad beans….sigh…

  3. Jules says:

    Those borlotti pods look beautiful. I’ve some of those in my seed tin so I really want to try to find room for them having seen yours. Your remark on the peppers made me chuckle. I’m soooo guilty at not reading seed packets properly – I get caught up in the excitement of new seeds and the detail goes out of the window!

    • Liz says:

      Ah me too. Oh well one day I’ll learn. I did enjoy growing the borlotti – I just wish they were a little more productive.

  4. Daphne says:

    Last year I grew a ton of climbing dried beans. I think one of them was Borlotto Linguia di Fuoco. It wasn’t a great yeilder for me so I don’t think I saved any of the seed. I hope you find the seed you want.

    This year I’ll be growing some of the climbing beans, but I also want to grow a lot of bush beans too. I’m trying to figure out how to grow what I need in the space allotted.

    • Liz says:

      I have endless problems trying to slot things in and every year my collection of pots grows much to the disappointed of my partner who is just not that happy with black plastic. I’ve told him he needs to get over it but thus far to no avail…

  5. What a great post Liz! I don’t have enough room in my micro-garden, but I would take your advice to grow more capsicum variety. Last year it did well in my garden.

    • Liz says:

      I seem to have a great mico climate for chillies but the sweet peppers seem a bit ambivalent, hopefully that will change with some new varieties.

  6. It’s always good to try to plan next year whilst rge current season is fresh in the mind.

    • Liz says:

      Of course by winter I will have forgotten all about it and merrily go along planting about 10 different tomato varieties etc.

  7. Hi Liz,

    I love my Borlotti beans and grow about half a dozen different varieties which are climbers. The most productive for me has been ‘Lamon’. What I have learnt is not to pick the pod until it looks very dry and withered as the beans inside put on a lot in size in those last couple of weeks when the plant looks as if it is on its last legs. For storage those that don’t get eaten fresh I put in bags in the freezer and can easily take out a loose handful when needed. They don’t need soaking or long cooking. Good luck with yours next time!

    • Liz says:

      Thanks for the variety recommendation, we do have a few Italian seed suppliers here so hopefully I will be able to find them. The freezer idea is great, I would like some pretty jars full too though, if only for asthetic reasons.

  8. Frogdancer says:

    I so agree with you about growing more beans to dry. I’ve grown a heap of the purple king beans and saved a lot of seed and next year I too will be growing borlotti beans.

    • Liz says:

      I use beans quite often and I love the idea of having home grown ones, I think if anything we would eat more of them which can only be good.

  9. Thanks for the pumpkin type tip. I’ll be looking out for it. Not that I’ve ever had any success growing pumpkins. But I have a thought about where I could put them this year. Like you, I’ve had mixed success with capsicums this year. Mine never ripened to red. I did ghose lots of those long yellow ones very successfully though. They seem to be quicker and easier than others. Unfortunately I didn’t realise I was getting the long yellow sort. And I don’t much like them. 🙁

    • Liz says:

      Shame about the capsicums, mine still haven’t turned red yet either, I’ve left them there in the hope that they will still comes to their senses. They are behind some eggplants which have decided to grow huge and I don’t think they’re getting enough sun. Next season I will plan better….

  10. We had chili beans for dinner last night, using Purple King beans. (My Tuesday Night Vego Challenge actually happens on a Monday night so I can post on Tuesday). I love growing enough beans to have jars of dried beans on the shelf. It means I can magic a meal out of nowhere – quesadillas, ful medames, minestrone, tacos, polenta and bean casserole – endless options. I’m going to try mini mamas next year – they look wonderful.

    • Liz says:

      Oh your making me hungry and I’ve only just had dinner. I don’t cook much Mexican but I would love to experiment with a few more dishes so it sounds great.

  11. I really want to grow cayenne peppers this year…don’t know if I’m up for the task but I will definitely give it a go!

  12. Louise says:

    Love, love, love your borlotti – they are so pretty – it reminds me to grown some again next year. This is the first year in many I havent grown drying beans, mostly casue I have some still in the cupboard from previous gluts. I think I have two jars still lingering – a jar of borlotti and a jar of some lovely brown ones, bring on winter stews and soups.

    I am definatley going to try your mini mamas next time and I can vouch for the long yellow ones (not grown this year) and the not so long but lovely yellow green ones I grew this year. Again, I have not paid enough attention to the variety name but that is on my ‘must do’ list.

    While we can grow strawberries in Sydney I have come to the conclusion that I dont think it is worth it. I think strawberries ned a little coller weather than we can offer, but Melbourne might have that little extra bit of coolness to make them taste best?

    Think I will have to try growing pumpkin for gnocci….I love gnocci and the darling husband has some Italian pasta making genes so its a goer.

    I love your Top 5s.

    • Liz says:

      Thanks Louise, I suspect I may come to much the same conclusion as you regarding growing strawberries but given how much the kids love them I feel I ought to at least try a bit harder. They get so excited when they find a ripe one in the garden – its very cute. I can only dream of a glut of drying beans – roll on next Spring.

  13. Louise says:

    I forgot to say… my borlotti were climbing ones, so they are out there. My seeds were handed to me over the fence from our Italian neighbours so not sure where to buy them… I could send you a few from my jar of dried ones if that will help?

  14. Phoebe says:

    Don’t get me started about being wooed by millions of tomato varieties!!! Must try and stick to only a couple of types too…
    That pumpkin variety sounds interesting!

    • Liz says:

      I really recommend it, Mum and Dads climate is a bit cooler than Melbourne and it did really well for them – it is a relatively big vine so it does need a bit of space but if you have that I would really recommend it.

  15. Nina says:

    Hmm. You’ve inspired me to grow some beans for drying though my green beans were subjected to a vicious whitefly attack this year and weren’t very successful. Maybe Borlotti will be more resiliant? I might give them a go.

    I’m hopeless with growing pumpkin! They have been a dismal failure for me, with my first attempt this year. I doubt I’ll try again, as they take up so much room and the space is better used for something that may be halfway successful. I don’t use it too often so it will be no great loss.

    I had a raised bed of strawberries but I ripped them all out recently and replaced them with garlic. What I managed to harvest was delicious but I had problems with birds getting under the netting (determined little buggers, they are) and mould. The runners that have taken off in the surrounding wood chips are going great guns, though. Go figure.

    I was thrilled to have a great harvest of capsicum this year. Even red ones! That has been particularly exciting. My chillis have been prolific, too. And you were right, some of the jalepenos are starting to redden now, I just needed a little patience. Thanks. 🙂

    I’ve grown Rouge de Marmande from seed the last couple of years and they have been great, the original plant was from a friend’s patch. I’ll certainly grow Romas again next season as they produced really well and the best tasting cherry I grew was ‘Tomatoberry’. The flavour, especially when oven dried, was amazing. Here we are, just over tomato season and I’m longing to grow them again!

    • Liz says:

      I do think that tomato growing is addictive, particularly when you know you could get better crops – like me. Each year I find I learn new things and I’m always impatient to test whether or not they work. There has been a loads of whitefly around this year – they went for my cucumbers rather than the beans though.

  16. Hi Liz!

    You know, I have huge troubel growing Tomatoes too.
    Luckily its not the pests, actualy I dont realy know what the problem is.
    We watered them sufficiantly, it grew on manure and they were growing in the shade. The plants produced 3-4 fruits and died. Maybe I need different variations like your Tomato Marmande…

    Your other veggies look great too, I like the capsicums, they looked like something totaly else what I am used too. I need diversity!!

    thanks for sharing your top 5!

    • Liz says:

      Thanks Helene, I’m wondering which time of the year you tried the tomatoes? If it was summer I think they would probably struggle a bit with Goa’s heat and humidity. At other times of the year I would have thought they would do fine but then tomatoes are hard i think, if there’s a disease around they will catch it.

  17. Mark Willis says:

    Your comment about the toms is very true. I try to grow some varieties year after year (I like Ferline and Maskotka best, and have had Tigerella several times), to build up some experience of how they perform in different conditions, but I also like to try a few new ones.

  18. Tracey says:

    I tried hanging bags for strawberries in the past and found them a PITA to keep moist. Of course, that was during continuous drought and with 40+ temps in summer. Another issue was the bag getting hot during heat waves. Plants generally don’t like their roots getting hot, so it was hard to balance available sun with the risk of overheating. Once the plants get big they’ll tend to cascade down the side and shade themselves, but I found the young plants vulnerable.

    If I lived in a predictably humid/high rainfall/not too hot climate I would certainly give it a go again, but who knows that the next summer in Melbourne will be like?

    • Liz says:

      Really good points. Never having used bags I hadn’t thought of the heat part, I’m wondering if I could somehow position them so the leaves got the sun but not the bag….hmmm not easy.

  19. Robin says:

    Great post Liz! I grow dried bush beans as a second crop after garlic or spring crops like broccoli and cabbage. They are fast growers and don’t require any attention. This seems to work out well for me.

  20. Dave says:

    Saying you’re not a good tomato grower is sort of like me saying I’m not Happy all the time! 😉

    Seriously, tomatoes aren’t all that easy to grow, despite being so popular. It’s sometimes boom or bust here with ours. Even then, some of the varieties failed miserably, like red pear and yellow pear.

    I have great luck with the Gold Nugget squashes here (I think that’s the same as the Golden Nugget). I hope you will too!

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