How Does Your Garden Grow - 2017

So what vegetables, herbs, etc. have you planted this year? Where do you live?

I am in the NYC Metro area just north of the city, Lower Westchester County. It’s been a crazy Spring with a day or two of 80-90F temps, then a p-lunge down to the 50-60’sF, and into the 40’s at night. With rain every few days, usually on the coldest ones. A horrible Spring to plant veggies outside. Especially chile peppers which don’t like temps under 55F, and hate wet roots. I do a container garden, using medium/large plastic pots. I used to do much more, but have cut back. The past few years I have done mostly hot peppers, a few tomatoes, beans, and Asian eggplants. I get some huge, incredibly productive plants using organic liquid fish emulsion for growth, and then a liquid kelp/fish emulsion for flowering and fruiting.

Each year I overwinter a few chile pepper plants by cutting them back in late Oct/early Nov, to just over the first fork, and repotting into 4" pots and keeping in an unheated bedroom over the winter, watering every two weeks. Their second year (and I have overwintered chile plants up to four years) they produce fruit much, much sooner, and the plants grown huge. This is really great with some of the superhot peppers who have an extremely late season and sometimes grow until late summer/early fall before producing fruit.

Plants 2017
Chile Peppers - A mix of mild, medium, and very hot; for fermented sauces and drying for powder.
(2) ALEPPO - mild; 3.5 to 4 inches long by 1 to 1.5 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from green to red; pendant pods; green leaves; 24 to 30 inches tall; Mid Season (70-80 days); Uses: Drying, Powder; from Syria; aka Halaby pepper; C.annuum. Aleppo has a moderate heat level with a mild, cumin-like undertone, a bit of fruitiness, and a hint of a salt and vinegar. Aleppo chili offers a pleasant variation from your usual crushed red peppers. It has a very robust flavor that hits you in the back of your mouth, tickles your throat and dissipates quickly.
(1) FATALII - extremely hot; Habanero Elongated Type; 2.5 to 3.5 inches long by 1.25 to 1.5 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from green to bright yellow; pendant pods; green leaves; 30 to 36 inches tall; Very Late Season (90+ days); Uses: Prolific; from Central African Republic; deadly hot!; C.chinense. With the heat level of a habanero, it has a more fruity, citrus flavor, lemon and sometimes peach, and packs an instant, intense burn.
(2) HAWAIIAN SWEET HOT - hot; 1.5 to 2 inches long by 0.5 to 0.625 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from green to red; pendant pods; green leaves; 18 to 24 inches tall; Mid Season (70-80 days); Uses: Chutneys, Fresh Salsas; from USA, Hawaii; C.annuum. Sweet, hot flavor.
(2) LEMON DROP - hot; Andean Aji Type; 2 to 3 inches long by 0.5 to 0.75 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from green to bright yellow; upright pods become pendant; green leaves; 24 to 30 inches tall; Very Late Season (90+ days); C.baccatum. The lemon drop pepper, ají limon, is a hot, citrus-like, lemon-flavored pepper which is a popular seasoning pepper in Peru, where it is known as qillu uchu.
(1) SANTA FE GRANDE - medium; Short Wax Type; 3 to 4 inches long by 0.75 to 1.25 inches wide; thick flesh; matures from greenish yellow to orange to red; pendant pods; green leaves; 18 to 24 inches tall; Early Season (60-70 days); Uses: Prolific, Canning/Processing; C.annuum. . Santa Fe Grande’s fruit have a slightly sweet taste and are fairly mild in pungency.
(2) URFA BIBER - mild; Blocky Type; 4 to 6 inches long by 1.5 to 2 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from green to red; pendant pods; green leaves; 24 to 30 inches tall; Mid Season (70-80 days); Uses: Drying, Large Stuffing, Powder; from Turkey; C.annuum.
(2) ZAVORY - medium; Habanero Elongated; 2 to 2.5 inches long by 1 to 1.5 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from green to red; pendant pods; green leaves; 18 to 24 inches tall; Late Season (80-90 days); Uses: Seasoning Pepper; these can be quite mild, or have some kick, a bit variable; C.chinense. Habanero with all the fruity flavor and aroma, without high heat.

Overwintered from 2016 - All Cayenne types for making fermented hot sauce and drying for powder.
(1) CAYENNE LARGE THICK - hot; Cayenne Type; 5 to 6 inches long by 0.75 to 1 inches wide; medium thin flesh; matures from green to red; pendant pods; green leaves; 18 to 24 inches tall; Mid Season (70-80 days); Uses: Drying, Fresh Salsas, Pickling, Powder; C.annuum.
(1) IBERIA HYBRID - medium; Cayenne Type; 7 to 10 inches long by 1 to 1.5 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from green to red; pendant pods; green leaves; 24 to 30 inches tall; Early Season (60-70 days); Uses: Drying, Fresh Salsas, Roasting, Fried/Stir-Fried, Crafts; a NJ Long Hot/Mesilla type; C.annuum
(1) MESILLA HYBRID - medium; Cayenne Type; 7 to 10 inches long by 1 to 1.5 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from green to red; pendant pods; green leaves; 24 to 30 inches tall; Mid Season (70-80 days); Uses: Drying, Roasting, Fried/Stir-Fried, Crafts; C.annuum
(1) SUGARCHILE HYBRID - mild; Cayenne Type; 5 to 6 inches long by 1 to 1.5 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from green to red; pendant pods; green leaves; 24 to 30 inches tall; Mid Season (70-80 days); Uses: Prolific, Roasting; C.annuum
(1) GARDEN SALSA HYBRID - medium; Cayenne Type; 8 to 9 inches long by 0.75 to 1 inches wide; medium thin flesh; matures from green to red; pendant pods; green leaves; 18 to 24 inches tall; Mid Season (70-80 days); Uses: Fresh Salsas, Prolific; resistant to Tobacco Mosaic Virus; C.annuum.
(1) Mexibelle Pepper - 5 inches by 4 inches, 75 days, Scoville heat units: 100 to 500 (mild) This unique hybrid pepper combines the characteristics of bell and hot peppers to produce a bell with a kick. Mexibelle bears large, flat, wide, bell-shaped peppers that mature from green to red.

Sweet Peppers - No full size ones this year.
(1) Lunchbox Orange Pepper - sweet; 2 to 2.5 inches long by 1 to 1.25 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from green to orange; pendant pods; green leaves; 18 to 24 inches tall; Mid Season (70-80 days); a new super sweet, practically seedless snacker; C.annuum.

Tomatoes - Nothing heirloom or fancy this year.
(1) Husky Cherry Red Tomato – super sweet cherry tomato , short 65 days, 3 to 4 feet tall, Dwarf Indeterminate

(1) Super Sweet 100 Tomato- Very Small Round Cherry; matures red; Cherry Leaf; Mid Season (70-80 days); very sweet favorite cherry; low acid; Uses: Prolific, Tall Variety; Indeterminate; S.lycopersicum.

This is when they were just planted four weeks ago on April 26th, they look pretty forlorn. This is the unused South facing side of the house, with a wall that reflects light and radiates heat. I’ll post a current photo in a few days, but due to the cold snap they haven’t grown as much normally. The overwintered plants didn’t go into full hibernation this year and tripled in size over the winter. Unusual. The Fatali and Aji peppers have been hit really hard by the cold weather, and almost died, no growth at all and the leaves turned yellow and looked like they were about to drop, but the past few days of 90F temps may have saved them since they are greening up again.

I only have a small garden - 16 x 10M - almost all of it over to ornamentals. I have a small patch of it (about 1 x 1.5) in which I grown perennial herbs - marjoram, rosemary, mint, thyme, chives, sage, fennel. In such a small garden, even these need to be decorative as well as useful in the kitchen. The only addition to this are some nasturtium seeds that I’ve sown in a pot that will be decorative with the flowers and the young leaves will go in salads.

4 Earth boxes which will support 8 indeterminate tomato plants on our patio, three large pots will contain small patio tomato plants. A wooden raised bed on our patio containing yellow bell, Serrano and, I hope, hatch chilis, garlic, sugar snaps, white and black eggplants and large planter pots with zucchini, spaghetti squash and straight yellow summer squash. Lots of herbs in smaller pots, mints, rosemary, three kinds of basil, sage, and a wide variety of lettuces that have produced much more than two of us can eat for weeks now.

We grew green zebra tomatoes successfully in an Earth Box under a grow light in our basement this winter.

Wow. That seems super early to plant for your location.

Interesting list of peppers! We’re trying Husky Red tomatoes this year for the first time–what’s your thought about growing it in a very large pot?

A local greenhouse had a sale this weekend–all 3" vegetable pots were 99 cents each so I stocked up on 14 tomato (half heirloom varieties) plants and 20 pepper plants–a mix of hot and sweet. Campeon was last year’s big producer of hot peppers so we’ve got 6 of those plants. Plants are being hardened off now, will go in the ground this weekend.

Yes, too early, but my plants were shipped two weeks earlier than planned, and we were having 80-90 degree weather at the time. So instead of repotting in 4" pots and keeping indoors, and then in a few weeks repotting outside, I took a chance. It probably slowed their growth by a month.

I have had great luck with all types of tomato plants in large pots. 1-2 per pot with a tomato cage, or even two mounted vertically, or lately, a 6-8’ trellis made from 1/2" electrical conduit (metallic emt) stuck all the way down into three or four edges of the pot, and cable tied at the top to form a tall teepee. Then loosely cable tied to the trellis as it grows. I have had plants get too tall to harvest and had to crop them to 7-8’ tall.

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I like your trellis idea. Perhaps we can fashion something similar. We’ll put the husky red into a pot at the community garden and we’re going to put two (sweet 100 and sungella [new to us this year]) at home and hope for the best.

Happy gardening!

What I really like about the metallic emt conduit is that you can bend it by hand easily, but it’s still strong. So you can make it bell out to the sides, and then arch back in, so there’s as much room as you need for the plants.

I planted my usual variety of tomatoes, basil, and herbs, but this year I had the gardeners dig up some patches in the side front yard. The plants are thriving so much better than they ever did in pots and containers. It’s really amazing.

I didn’t do any real soil prep either, other than loosening the soil and adding some potting soil and fertilizer spikes. The neighbors keep stopping by to chat, they seem to like it.

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I inherited a few weedy beds and very little other suitable space for planting vegetables when we bought our house (in JMF’s neighborhood!) last August, so I have been spending most of my time this spring trying to reclaim space from weeds and other unwanted plants. Last weekend we cut down a privet hedge that was taking up the sunniest, flattest part of the yard - once the privet is dead and gone, I plan to build a large raised bed (35’x4’) in its place, but that will have to wait until late fall or even early next spring. I also dug out a nice bed for herbs just outside the kitchen door, so I will soon be transplanting my starts (four types of basil, oregano, nepitella, thyme, sage, chives, etc.). I started a few varieties of hot peppers and some leeks as well - I’ve never grown these before, so we’ll see how they do.

In what space I already had, I planted 45 garlic last fall, which is going like gangbusters now! Three hardneck varieties: Music, German Giant and Russian Red. It looks like all but two or three of the cloves I planted are growing well. Scapes should be starting in a couple of weeks! I reclaimed an existing bed for raspberries and blackberries and planted a sweet and a sour cherry, two elderberries and a red gooseberry in the yard, all of which seem to be doing well. I also planted two types of rhubarb, one of which is doing great (Victoria) but the other (Crimson Red) just doesn’t seem to be happy.

Once we have the larger bed, I am hoping to grow a much larger variety of peppers, heirloom tomatoes and watermelons, and whatever else strikes my fancy. Also, DH wants a pumpkin patch, so we’ll see if there’s room for that. I’ll be reading about everyone else’s adventures this year for ideas and inspiration!

That sounds wonderful! I can’t wait to expand next year. I will probably plant some garlic and shallots in the fall, and legumes in the tomato beds, to try and and revitalize the soil.

Question: Were the areas in which you’re planting previous flower beds, or was it grass? One section we dug up was covered in crab grass, and many little rocks of concrete and plaster from when the garage was redone. Any ideas on how to fix the soil?

wow! you have your work cut out for you but it will be fabulous once it’s in. I already had to take a scape off of one garlic plant which is about 3 weeks early.

I’m not the one to whom you posed the question but since our community garden was planted on top of broken up tennis courts I have a little experience with rocks and not great/deep soil. First thing is you have to make sure you have good drainage-- if not, the finest soil in the work won’t help if your roots are drowning. (A team put in French drains at the CG and it’s worked wonderfully.) Then loads and loads and yet more loads of leaf humus will be of great help. If you’ve got a compost pile at home use it–wonderful stuff.


The raised beds in which I was able to plant this season were definitely used for vegetables and/or flowers at one time (I found a zillion of those little plant ID tags from the previous owner’s tomatoes, cucumbers and all sorts of flowers), but they had been left to the weeds for at least one full year and maybe more before we moved in. The soil was different in each one, too! Some had clearly been amended with sand while others were much more clayish/compacted. Anyway, once I got the weeds out I ended up needing quite a bit of soil to fill them completely. Some of it came from the area I dug out for my herb bed (which was native soil and had a mixture of grass and weeds growing in it), and then I amended with a mixture of bagged compost, garden soil, some peat moss and a bit of manure. I’m worried that the sandier boxes are still too sandy, but we’ll see.

Your concrete rocks sound like a nightmare! If I were you I would check out the GardenWeb forums for advice specific to your situation - I’m definitely not an expert when it comes to soil amendments. You can send samples of your soil to labs for testing as well, to see exactly what kind of amendments are best for whatever it is you want to grow.

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This year I grew fava beans over the winter months. It was a wet winter so it would have been ideal conditions for the fava bean plants, but either the seeds were old or the critters ate most of them, but I got only maybe 20 plants out of the hundreds of seeds sown over 6 beds. So that’s a bit disappointing. We are about to harvest the beans so we’ll see how they taste.

P.S. We’re on our ninth year and still have to pick rocks out of our plots :wink:

I had that situation once and after trying many things to improve the soil, I ended up having to do a full out cleanse. I bought some heavy duty metal mesh screen with 1/2" holes and made a 4’x4’ frame out of 2"x2" wood with the mesh nailed down, and then another layer of wood on top so that the mesh was sandwiched between the wood, to make a very sturdy sifting device. I then I set up two saw horses and put the frame on top. I rented a rototiller and tilled the yard (20’x30’) twice, down to 8-10". That was a heck of a great arm and shoulder workout, and stomach muscles too. I then had a friend help and we literally shoveled the whole yard onto the sifter and used trowels to force the dirt through, leaving behind any rock, cements, etc. larger than 1/2". We did it 4’x4’ section of the yard at a time. It took 2-3 days. Then I had a load of manure delivered and rototilled it into the soil. We did this in late summer/early fall, and I planted the following spring. Super Garden! A lot of work, but the size and flavor of the veggies and herbs was amazing. I actually ended up selling a lot of the produce at a local farmers market and made some decent cash for the next two years. Sold that place more than a decade ago, but still remember the Super Garden fondly. (And won’t ever rototill myself ever, ever, again!)

If I could do it again I would have hired day laborers to do the actual roto tilling, shoveling, and sifting and such. $200-300 would have been well worth it.

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I assume you are in North East Yonkers or Tuckahoe? Which neighborhood in this area are you in? Crestwood? Amour Villa? Colonial Heights? Cedar Knolls? Bryn Mawr? Beech Hill? CenTuck? Homefield?

I’m in Armour Villa.

We’re actually in Northwest Yonkers, just south of Hastings and right on the river. We do a lot of shopping in Northeast Yonkers, though. Love the area. We actually looked at several homes in Colonial Heights and Crestwood and made an offer on one, but we were outbid. It all worked out, though, because we love the river towns and being on this side of the county works well for us.

That’s intense! And impressive. I was thinking of hiring some guys to take away the top layer (about 3 or 4 inches), then the roto-tilling,and mixing in manure and/or compost. It’s not a very large plot.

I think I may simply prep for next year, like you did. I could technically have it ready to plant fall crops, but it’s tricky because our summers are so hot, and I don’t want to burn the soil amendments. Maybe I will wait and manure in the fall, and let it lie fallow until next year?

If the amount of rocks and cement isn’t too bad you can get by just fine manuring as soon as possible, and rototilling. I’d do it soon so that the manure has as long as possible to lie fallow and cure in the ground, and any larger rocks come to the surface after it rains. If you prep now, you can plant any fall and long term items in the fall, like garlic, asparagus, etc.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2