Year-End Evaluation

The Last Tomato

The Last Tomato

Despite the Groundhog and the late start, it wasn’t all that terrible of a gardening year. We had a continuous flow of veggies for our needs, but there were none to freeze and not a lot to give away.

Getting rid of the pear tree and maples provided more sunlight that meant earlier and better yields.

Next spring I will need to have the groundhog professionally relocated and may have to erect some additional fencing to protect against the rabbits. (Where are the coyotes when you need them?)

The other thing will be to get the tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and eggplant in as early as possible in May, to get earlier yields.

Here is a bunch of ideas for next year:

  1. Spring greens. Setting out lettuce and spinach plants worked much better than seed. the Red Romaine did really well. Arugula from seed would be good as well as the Lolla Rossa lettuce. Maybe radishes again and broccoli and broccoli rabe.
  2. I really don’t use kale or collards until fall so there is no use wasting space on them in the spring garden. There should be room for the Swiss Chard by the herbs.
  3. Tomato plants that are already bearing may get stunted, those planted early with very small tomatoes might be OK.
  4. Early Girl never performs well, and there are probably better hybrids to plant. Brandywine did good. As far as heirlooms, German Johnson, Oxheart, and Mortgage lifter were outstanding performers. I’ll probably get most of the tomatoes from Countryside.
  5. The white eggplant from Countryside did very well, as did the full-sized ones from Home Depot. Ichiban was a total flop.
  6. The regular Tomatillos from Countryside yielded very well, but the pineapple variety did not.
  7. The banana peppers yielded better than the bell peppers this year.
  8. The zucchini did poorly in their location west of the horseradish, not helped by the voracious groundhog. Should try a different location next year.
  9. The basil did well by keeping it severely trimmed. I never let seedheads even start to form. It would probably good to set additional plants out in July or early August. The clump basil was attractive but the yield was small. I probably had almost 15 plants.
  10. The cherry and grape tomatoes did well, it might be worth putting in a couple more plants.

Omelet and Baba Ganoush

Last Harvest

Last Harvest

Made omelets this morning from garden tomatoes, banana peppers, and fresh chives. Last night I made baba ganoush from the last eggplant from the garden.

I just checked back and the first omelet from the garden was on July 2, so we had 4 1/2 months of summer vegetables. Not too bad. The tomatoes for the last month certainly were not up to summer quality, but they were probably still better than supermarket tomatoes.

I still have 3 nice green peppers on the counter and the last lemon boy tomato. there is lots of kale and collards in the garden which should have improved after last nights 23-degree temps. That was really our first killing frost.


I planted three tomatillo plants this year, two of the normal variety and one of the pineapple variety. The two normal ones produced very well, but the pineapple one had a low yield with very small fruits. I probably won’t plant that variety next year.

Since I am now growing them, I am always looking for some new recipes and came up with this one as an alternative to guacamole, which I make very often. Here’s a link to it on my website.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa with Avocados

Roma Tomatoes – Decimated


Groundhog Damage

Groundhog Damage

I was just about to pick the next batch of Roma tomatoes, but the groundhog got to them first. He ate a bunch and randomly took bites out of the rest, basically trashing the whole crop.

He has also been attacking the heirlooms.

Grilled Veggies

Grilled Garden Veggies

Grilled Garden Veggies

The cherry tomatoes continue to yield extremely well and haven’t been touched by any critters. We made a nice grilled vegetable medley with garden zucchini, cherry tomatoes, basil and some store-bought mushrooms. (I’m afraid to eat any of those that I find in the yard.) Also some Costco vegetable burgers.


It’s been a very hot dry July, but the tomatoes are loving the heat! I need to water heavily every couple of days. The upside is that there are almost no mosquitoes, unlike the past two years when it was almost impossible to venture into the garden, even in bright sunlight.

First Zucchini

First Zucchini

First Zucchini

Despite the munching of the Woodchuck, I picked my first Zucchini today. Either Mr. Woodchuck or some other critter has been munching on the leaves and eating the fruits. The first clump of zucchini is pretty well trashed.

The Culprit — Identified!

I had suspected an Italian rabbit, since most of my eggplant was eaten along with zucchini, Lacinato Kale, and Italian frying peppers, but Katy’s mom spotted a large well-fed Woodchuck sneaking through the garden. A few minutes later we saw him on his hind legs feeding on gooseberries. This confirms Greg’s suspicion about the new burrow under my barn. He also did a number on two out of three clumps of Black-Eyed Susans. No wonder I can’t grow perennials.


Bruscetta Fixin's

Bruschetta Fixin’s

The Roma tomatoes were small, as expected, but I picked enough tomatoes and basil to make a nice batch of bruschetta. The fresh tomatoes make all the difference in the world.

Last Herb Planting

Kevin and Katy will be having their “gender reveal” party here next weekend, so there has been a flurry of activity for the past couple of weeks trying to finish up the yardwork and get the place looking respectable.

I finished cleaning out the bed where the herbs are along the fence and planted basil, globe basil and Thai basil, oregano and dill. They had gallon containers on sale at the Crystal Lake Home Depot — 3 for $12,

I had enough mulch to cover the area after planting. There was some volunteer dill that had grown up plus French tarragon and oregano which I was able to save.