It’s time to bring in the bounty we’ve grown outdoors and take stock of the season. In that spirit, I’m looking at the most successful new varieties I tried this season—the majority featuring compact, space-saving qualifications. One of the limiting factors in my gardening space is that I’m compelled to locate plants that deer eat in hard-to-reach locations—either within our 8-foot high deer fence, or elsewhere deer find intimidating—such as close to buildings, and in tight corners.
I knew that with all the other vegetables we wanted inside the fence, there wouldn’t be space this year for peppers–so I made other plans. I chose 8” high ‘Mohawk’ for window boxes across the sunny south-facing front of the house–interspersed with some Calibracoa for color. ‘Mohawk’ set impressive numbers of small, thin-walled peppers that ripened sweet and yellow, and were ideal for frying. I tried red Hungarian sweet pepper ‘Piros’ in a planter near the house. This also small-fruited variety had surprisingly thick walls, perfect for dips and stuffing due to its curved shape. Both varieties came from Totally Tomatoes. The third sweet pepper I grew was Renee’s Garden’s ‘Pizza My Heart,’ which I planted three plants to a large pot right next to the garage. Although this pepper resembles a Jalapeno, it’s quite sweet, and exceptionally thick-walled. The only complaint I have about these smaller plants with smaller fruit is that they require proportionately greater labor to prepare—all those seeds! But none of these situations would have supported large California style peppers, so it was worthwhile.
An impressive tomato I’ve grown in containers two seasons is ‘Red Alert’ from Totally Tomatoes. Ping-pong-size tomatoes ripened with our earliest in-ground varieties, and then in both years, the plants produced an equally heavy second set. Their performance was particularly impressive given the two seasons—last year was hot and dry at that juncture, and this one, very wet. ‘Red Alert’ was consistently tasty and disease-free too.
An excellent bush filet bean, ‘Masai,’ came from Pinetree Garden Seeds. These delicious beans held well, requiring considerably less space than most. I planted some in containers, but those in the ground were happier.
Currently, my favorite discovery is Savoy Cabbage ‘Melissa,’ a Territorial Seeds variety I planted in a short row. Perfectly sized for small families, it’s also ideal for small gardens since plants can be spaced 8” apart. All of these would be excellent selections to grow in winter greenhouses too.