Garden Review, Looking Back at 2018


My Gardens in 2018

Some good, some bad, some just ok. Here’s my rundown.

2018 was a tough tomato growing year for me. I grew some in raised beds, and that worked out well, but my two largest in-ground beds turned up diseased, making my season disappointing and the future for those beds questionable. I'll talk more about that in a separate post, but for now, I've got a narrower group of varieties to report my loves and grumbles on for the growing year. Here goes.


Carbon Copy: I liked the size of these cherries and their color. The flavor was ok, but not like its parent; the larger and quite delicious Carbon. I was underwhelmed by the amount of fruit produced, especially for a cherry. I'm interested to hear how others did with this one, and I opted to bring it back for a second chance this year. Turns out, germination has been terrible this year, so this season is likely its swan song.

Bear Creek: I'm totally smitten. My absolute favorite again this year. This was one badass plant that was sturdy, healthy, and produced an enormous crop of big, beautiful, full flavored mahogany beefsteaks for a very long season. It started producing early and heavily, covering the base of the plant with a thick crop of fruit. I thought there was no way it could continue this pace, but it did. All season. And it was a monster plant; I had to prune to keep it from smothering my poor Opalka and taking over the walkway. It was the last plant to give up, and in late November I counted 40 tomatoes still on the vine! I'm hoping for a repeat performance this year.

Druzba (aka Friendship): I got great production out of this Bulgarian variety, and the fruit was smooth, crack-free and tasty. Flavor wise it was pretty middle-of-the-road; not too tart or sweet, not as full flavored as others, but a good overall red slicing tomato. It produced early and there was always plenty of ripe fruit on the vine that didn't rot or crack readily. I definitely want this one back.

Caro Rich: This one grew in one of my diseased beds, and it became a lovely surprise. It did suffer, but not to the degree that most other varieties did, and it produced quite well given the circumstances. Fruits were smooth as a baby's behind, totally crack-free, and a gorgeous glowing orange. These perfect globes had very good balanced flavor. Caro deserves a comeback.

Noir de Crimee: Maybe it didn't have its best year, or maybe I was so fawn-eyed over the Bear Creek nearby that I was distracted, but this one was just ok. Not bad, just average. Easy to walk past to get to my beloved. It was supposed to live up the Black Krim reputation AND be more productive. Huh. It was more of an average Joe. I'm giving it one more shot, as I really want more good black varieties in the lineup and hopefully others had a better experience. It's on probation.

Hillbilly: Yet another variety that landed in a diseased bed. Fortunately, Hillbilly did okay. Production was off and the fruit was smaller than normal, but it did produce tasty fruit fairly continuously. People really like this tomato, myself included, and it gets extra kudos for soldiering through the problems. It's coming back.

Kosovo: Planted on the hot, dry, exposed southern end of a diseased bed, this one really didn't get a fair shot. It didn't fare well and gave up early, but the fruit I did get was top notch. This was one of the red oxheart varieties I offered, and I wonder how it would have done in good conditions. The fruit was a beautiful red heart with full, balanced flavor, few seeds and very little gel. Too bad there wasn't more of it. I have a few to offer again this year, but I didn't restock my seed supply. It needs a banner year to be put back in the lineup for next year.


North Carolina Pickling Cucumber: Wow! I don't think I've ever grown a more voracious and productive cucumber. I could NOT keep up with this bad boy. When I looked away for a moment, I had cucumber mayhem on my hands. I gave away bags full and still had too many. They were good too! Crisp with no bitter taste, perfect dill pickle size, and the skin was a creamy yellow that you could see amongst the green leaves. It had a long, productive life and I had no powdery mildew problems. I'll be giving this one WAY more space this year.

Interestingly, my orange tomato varieties did better overall than the others in the diseased beds. I have no idea why. I'm thrilled to have found some new favorites and am looking forward to trying them again, as well as host of new ones this year. I hope we all have a great food growing year.

Happy pseudo spring!