Sunday, November 25, 2018

December 2018 Edible Garden Planner

Early December garden; chard in the foreground, herbs in the background
Sunday, November 25, 2018

December is a time of digging in and staying warm.  It may appear that everything is dead outside, but there is still life in the garden.  In the beds, kale, cabbage, salad burnet, sorrel, rosemary, oregano, garlic, onions, lettuce, leeks, chard, dill, celery, sage, carrots, spinach are all still green in December.

Fresh herbs are just steps away from the back door.  Most Mediterranean herbs are perennials so you get to enjoy them almost year round.  You can also grow many herbs indoors as well like chives, oregano, rosemary, parsley, chervil, and basil.  Rosemary and bay are two to dig up and bring indoors to guarantee survival through the winter.  Just place your potted herbs in a sunny window.  I keep my bay in pots and bring into the garage for the winter.  
If you are using a greenhouse, your kale, celery, mustard, lettuce, chard, spinach, cabbage, sprouting broccoli are still happy under cover.  They will not grow much until sunlight gets back to 10 hours per day in late January.  Be sure on sunny, warm days to pop the top on your greenhouse or you will scorch your greens.  It can get 50 degrees warmer inside a greenhouse on a sunny day than the actual temperature outside.  
Cultivated dandelion in a pot
All cold crops are at their sweetest during the cold weather.  Frost brings out the sugars in cold crops.  Hardy greens like chard, kale, spinach, mustard greens, cultivated dandelion greens, and collard greens make great salads and are tasty steamed or braised.

Make sure if you have any potted veggies to put them on the ground if they are on coasters and move them to a sheltered area on the south side of the house to extend their growing time.  Placing straw bales around them or mounding mulch provides extra protection.  I also move them up against the wall.  This does double duty-southern exposure gets the most sun and warmth.  Pots left exposed creates a micro climate that is a zone lower than the ones planted in the ground.  If you are in Zone 6, be sure that plants left in pots are hardy to at least Zone 5 if you want them to come back in the spring.  If they are not, put under cover or bring into the garage for the winter.

Veggies like your favorite tomato, pepper, eggplant, or celery that you potted and moved indoors will continue to produce indoors if provided warmth and enough sunlight.  My Chiptelin pepper is one I bring in every year.  I also bring in lemon verbena, lemon grass, citrus, bay and goji berry plants for overwintering in our attached, unheated garage.  We place them in the sunniest spot in the garage and supplement with 4 foot fluorescent grow lights.
Chives in front, sage and rosemary in back
The Fresh Produce Buying Local Option
You can check on line to see if you have a farmers market in your area.  Many have farmers markets year round where you can get fresh produce, canned, baked goods, eggs and meats locally grown.  Many that aren't open regularly will have hours before Christmas so you can get fresh, local ingredients for your holiday meal.  A great place for finding what is near you is the on-line resource www.localharvest.org

CSA
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  It is where you invest in a local farmer in January when they have to purchase their seeds and supplies for the upcoming gardening season.  You then get a weekly share of the farmers harvest typically from May through October.  There are even some winter CSA's now!

Before I started our own edible garden, we joined a CSA.  It was great.  We got lots of super fresh produce, our weekly grocery bill was significantly reduced as our meals were planned around the vegetables, and it was an adventure getting to try new recipes with veggies we had never ate before.   
Eat well, be healthy

A CSA shows you what grows well in your area.  You can find out the varieties you like and when they come into season.  You can even save the seeds from the varieties that you want to grow in your future garden if you partner with an organic CSA that grows open pollinated and heirloom vegetables and fruits.
What do the terms GMO, natural, heirloom, organic, hybrid really mean?

To advertise as “organic” you have to be certified.  Many farmers cannot afford to do this.  Some farmers participate in the "Certified Naturally Grown" program.  This is less expensive than USDA organic, but also relies on inspections by other CNG farmers, non-CNG farmers, extension agents, master gardeners and customers instead of USDA certified agents.  If you are interested in produce grown without pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals, ask if the farmer uses organic practices.  Go visit them to see the garden for yourself before you commit.  You can also check out reviews on line. 

Where to find a CSA?  Again, a great resource is the web site at www.localharvest,org 

Many sell out by January so don’t delay if you want to join!

Preserving the harvest
It is easy to store winter squash in your pantry to pull out anytime.  We have eaten butternut squash from the garden all the way into June of the following year.  21 no tech storage crops

If you put garlic in your pantry and some have dried out, make garlic powder.  Just process the dried garlic in a coffee or spice grinder.  Now you have great flavor to add to burgers, sauces, or steaks. Quick tip-make dried garlic into garlic powder 

I take the herbs I had drying in paper bags and remove all leafs.  I store my herbs in quart canning jars.  I mix them all together for a homemade “Herbes de Provence”.  Make your own "Herbes de Provence"  I use it on everything!  It is great in sauces, on meats, in dressings.  

Tarragon, thyme, sage, rosemary and chives
If you threw your extra tomatoes into the freezer and are now thinking it would be nice to have tomato sauce, canning tomato sauce is simple and easy to do.  I use Weck’s canning jars.  They are all glass so no worries about what is lining the lid.  And they are a really pretty shape.  Easy, low tox canning of summer's bounty

All you need to can tomato sauce is a large pot, canning jars, a funnel, and canning tongs.  A pressure canner is not needed for acidic foods like tomatoes.  Always follow the recipe as written to insure food safety.  If the food is not acidic enough, it can allow botulism to grow.

I throw the entire tomato (de-stemmed) into the food processor.  Most recipes say to remove the peel and seeds so you don’t have a bitter taste, but I have not noticed any issue with bitterness.

Here is the recipe from Ball’s “Complete Book of Home Preserving” for tomato paste:
9 cups of pureed tomatoes, 1½ cups of chopped sweet bell peppers, 2 bay leaves, 1 teas salt, 1 clove of garlic.

I put it all into a large pot and let simmer until it is the consistency and taste I like, about 2.5 hours.  Remove the bay leaves and garlic.  Boil the jars, lids, and seals as the sauce is close to done.

Add 3 teas of lemon juice to each hot pint jar, fill with the hot tomato sauce to within ½ inch of the top, and seal the lid, following the instructions for the type of jar you are using.  Place all the filled jars in a large pot, insuring they are fully covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 45 minutes.  Be sure that the pot is at a steady boil for the entire 45 minutes.  Remove from canner.  Let cool for 24 hours.  Remove the ring and test the seal after the jar is completely cool by gently lifting the jar by the lid.  It should not lift off.  That’s it!  

Other high acid foods you can using a water bath are jams, jellies, condiments, salsas, pickles, and relishes.  Consult with a canning book for more tips and always follow the recipe exactly as written to insure the right acidity for safe canning.

Winter is time to savor the fresh herbs from the garden along with what you have preserved, browsing for canning ideas, and planning next year's garden.  A potential Christmas meal using what is growing in the garden in December, Jazz up the Christmas feast with herbs from the garden

I use Christmas break as the time to finalize my garden plan for the spring.  I look back on my notes from last year's edible garden and this year's seed catalogs to decide what new varieties to add to my standbys.

For tips on choosing seed catalogs:  New seed catalogs are here! 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Edible garden bed winter prep


Sunday, November 24, 2018

There are good things to do for your garden when winter is on the horizon to keep your garden bed healthy and ready for spring.  Winter prep includes soil sampling, fertilizing, cleaning the plants from the garden and give your cold crops a coat to protect them all winter!

Tidy Beds & Compost
It is time to clean up your edible garden to prepare it for the long cold season.  You can compost any that were disease free, but dispose af any diseased plants in the garbage.  Only high sustained temperatures will destroy the spores and it is not worth the risk of spreading disease into next year’s garden.  We had issues with some pests this season, so all the plant material is going to be cleaned out and disposed of.

Garden Beds & Soil Sampling
Now is the time to lay out any expansion you want to do in your garden beds.  Using a hose to outline the new beds is a great way to envision how they will look.  You can simply cover with card board to kill the grass over the winter.  I like to cover with cardboard, add a layer of compost and fertilizer, then top with mulch.  Letting the bed lay over the winter will allow the fertilizer to seep into the soil so it is ready to plant come spring.  Take a soil sample from your new bed(s) and existing beds to take it in to your conservation office or mail in to a soil analysis service.  The results will tell you exactly what your soil needs for amendments.
Late fall is a great time to go ahead and do soil sampling for your existing beds.  With the results in hand, you can do the amendments of minerals your garden bed needs so they will be completely into the soil by spring so your plants have all the food they need to have a strong start.  Be sure to work into the soil.  Adding mulch gives the garden bed extra cover to keep herbs and cold crops like lettuce, chard, cabbage, spinach warmer so they produce longer.
Protective Cover of Winter Crops
This is the time of year to put a coat over your potted plants left outdoors planted with cold crops.  The best place to locate your plants and greenhouse is close to protection and on the south side of the house in full sun.  Putting the greenhouse against the house will help keep the temperatures warmer for your plants.
Larger portable greenhouse

I have two mini portable greenhouses that I cover my pots and Earthoxes that contain kale, celery, French dandelion, spinach, lettuce, blood veined sorrel, garden purslane, carrots, and corn salad.  To add more protection, you can put inside the greenhouse along the outside edge, gallon jugs filled with water and spray painted black.  These will help moderate the temperature inside the greenhouse.

The biggest risk with a greenhouse?  Overheating!  The sun’s rays are quite hot on a cloudless day.  I open the vent on my greenhouse when it is sunny and in the 30’s.  I will unzip the front door flap when it gets into the 40’s.   In the 50’s, the cold crops really don’t need any protection.

Save Seeds
I am going to do a tour of the garden and save seeds from any flowers or veggies that I want to grow next season.  On my hit list is the green beans I left on the vine to keep for seed, flower seeds from the marigolds, hummingbird vine, moon flower vine, and zinnias, and any of the really nice summer vegetable specimens.  It is good to save the best of the best for seed as these parents will give you the characteristics you want in your veggies for next year's garden.

Tool Care
Now is the time to take care of your tools to get them ready and stored for next season.  Sharpen your garden knives, scissors, shovels, and hoes.  Lightly oil all needed to protect from rust and keep working smoothly.  Make a list of any additions you want for your tool collection so you can research and purchase over the winter.

Winter Cover Crops
If you have an un-mulched garden bed, winter cover crops are a great way to protect the soil, keep it from washing and add nutrients your garden needs.

Summarize & Plan for Next Year's Garden
Now is the time to write down all you liked about the garden to you can repeat it for next season as well as what didn't go so well.  You can use the winter season to research solutions to the improvements you want to make on your garden for next year.

I like to look back through all my garden notes for the season and capture the varieties I want to be sure to have in the garden for next year as well as any new ones I want to try. 

For instance, I have been trying different varieties of paste tomatoes so that I keep paste tomatoes in sync with the other tomatoes.  I like to put paste tomatoes in every freezer bag I store for next year's salsa and sauces.  I continue to experiment with black tomatoes to see which are the most prolific in our garden.

I experimented for years to find the most prolific sweet peppers for our garden.  I now save the seed from the best producers of the plants to start next season. 

For eggplant, I found two varieties that did great in our heat and humidity without getting bitter.  I'll definitely plant these again next year.

The cucumber varieties I tried this summer did really well.  The Jaune Dickfleishige did too well.  They were huge and prolific.  I think I will stick with a small white, yellow and green type for next year's garden.  

Our zucchini got ate by the ground hog this year.  The plants themselves were healthy so will stick with Early Prolific Straight Neck and the Cocozelle Zucchini for next season.

All the green bean varieties did great this year.  I will stick with them for next year's garden, a purple and green Romano vine type.  Maybe I'll try a yellow one next season for fun color..  Legumes-peas for spring, beans for summer

Spring lettuce-I really liked the Red Romaine and Red Sails lettuce.  They stayed a long time before bolting.  I also like the oak leaf lettuces and Grand Rapids varieties.  I'll have all of these in the garden next year.  I saved seeds from the varieties that did well so I can sprinkle and go come spring!  I think the easiest way to get them going is to thickly sprinkle the seeds in a pot, then transplant to other pots or the garden bed to grow to maturity.

I'll absolutely do the Cardinal Basil and traditional sweet basil.  I like the Cardinal Basil because it's flowers is just so pretty.  The sweet basil for making pesto.

My husband loves zinnias and marigolds.  I'll start these from seed I save now to grow again next year.  Flowers add not only beauty but attract pollinators.  These little hard working gardener assistants significantly boost your garden fruit production like tomatoes, peppers, beans and eggplants.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Use your own herbs for your Thanksgiving dinner



Thursday, November 22, 2018

Add a fresh edge to your Thanksgiving dinner by using herbs straight from your own garden.  Herbs can be harvested all the way through the entire winter in most years.  Traditional vegetables used for flavoring the Thanksgiving feast are also harvestable at this time of year, like carrots, onions and celery.

Herbs are easy and care free to grow and almost all of them are perennials.  That means you plant once and they come back year after year.  For more details on growing your own herbs, see my blog here  Start a kitchen herb garden!

Jazzing up the turkey flavor
You can easily make poultry seasoning for your turkey from herbs in your own garden.  Poultry seasoning adds great flavor to, of course, chicken or turkey, but also veggies, fish, casseroles, pasta.

The first commercial poultry seasoning was invented by William G. Bell, a Boston cook, in 1867.  His included sage, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, pepper and ginger.

I like to make my poultry seasoning with dried sage, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram.  Some add nutmeg, pepper, ginger , onion powder and/or cloves.

Here is my poultry seasoning recipe:
3 Tbl sage
1 Tbl parsley
1 Tbl thyme
1 Tbl marjoram or oregano
1 Tbl rosemary

Insure all spices are crumbled into tiny pieces so they will disperse evenly in your favorite prepared dish.  Combine in a pint jar, shake to mix well.  

You can transfer the amount needed to a kitchen spice jar.  Keep the rest in a cool, dark location.

For any spices, you want to keep them as fresh as possible.  They lose their flavor over time and quicker if exposed to heat/light.

Herbal-powered stuffing
For stuffing, you can gather fresh sage, onions, carrots and celery from the garden even in late November. 

In a bowl, put 8 cups of dried bread cubes and soften with 1 cup of chicken broth (I love using organic “Better than Bouillon” for my stock).  In a skillet, sauté 1 cup of chopped carrots, 1 cup chopped celery, 1/2 cup chopped onions with 1/2 cup of butter.  After browned, add 2 teas fresh sage or poultry seasoning, 1/2 teas salt, 1/8 teas of pepper.  Mix all together and stuff the turkey.

Potager turkey gravy
To make 2 cups of gravy, cook in a sauce pan, 1/2 cup of fresh chopped carrots, 1/2 cup of fresh chopped celery, 1 cup of chopped onions, 3 cloves of peeled and mashed garlic until browned.  Add 1 bay leaf, 3 cups of chicken stock, and giblets and neck from turkey.  Simmer on low uncovered for an hour or so until reduced in about half.  Strain out all solids and combine 1 cup of stock with 1/4 cup of cream and 1/4 cup of flour, whisk until smooth.  Bring remaining stock to boil, add cream mixture, defatted turkey pan drippings if desired, simmer until thickened.

Herbed potato options
There are a few options for snazzing up your mashed potatoes.  For 5 pounds of potatoes, you can add 5 cloves of roasted garlic, 1 cup of buttermilk and 8 ounces of cream cheese.  

Or how about 5 pounds of small potatoes that are cooked until tender, then tossed with 1 cup of butter, 3/4 cup freshly, finely chopped parsley, marjoram, chives and/or thyme.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Herbal salad dressing
You can keep it simple and flavor a good white wine vinegar with your favorite herb like tarragon for the salad.  Use a mild olive oil so that the flavor of the herb shines through.  Herbal vinegars are easy to make, but you need to make ahead.  Place the herbs in the vinegar and leave in a cool dark place for at least a week.  You can strain out the herbs before using after infused.

Homemade version of Hidden Valley Ranch is easy to make.  Just mix equal amounts of buttermilk, mayonnaise, and sour cream (half cup each).  Then add parsley, dill, garlic, onion (half teas), salt (quarter teas), and pepper (eighth teas) to taste.  If the mayonnaise is too overpowering, I substitute yogurt.   Other home made dressings:  Homemade salad dressing recipes with garden herbs

This is the perfect time for fresh spinach salads.  Spinach and other greens are in season and loving this cool weather.  

Artisanal butter
If you are making an herbal butter to serve, you would want more like 2 tablespoons of herbs to 1/2 cop of butter.  Add the herb that complements the dish you are serving.

You can either serve in a dish, roll it into a log using plastic wrap or form into a shape.  How fun is that!  If you use a form, simply press the softened butter firmly into the form, then place the form into a shallow dish of hot water.  The butter should slide out easily after a little warming.

I make an herb mixture from the herbs I dry from the garden.  It is great on anything!  Make your own "Herbes de Provence"



Sunday, November 18, 2018

Crop rotation made easy for small gardens



Sunday, November 19, 2018

Smart rotating of your vegetables can break the pest and disease cycle while at the same time utilizing the nutrients that the previous season’s vegetables left behind.  Studies have shown that your harvest increases by 10-25% with smart crop rotation.

Most have heard that crop rotation is important for your vegetables.  This is for a variety of reasons.  Many pests are specific to a vegetable type so when they overwinter and come up hungry, their favorite meal is nowhere to be found.  Different vegetables take different nutrients out of the ground while others give back nutrients.  Diseases are also many times specific to certain vegetables.

The traditional crop rotations I have seen had your crops divided into 8 groups.  For small gardens, this is unmanageable; just too complicated for the space.  Recently, I have read about crop rotations on a simpler scale that make a lot of sense.  

Divide your garden, or pots, into these 4 groups:
Group 1-Legumes (beans and peas).  The soil builders are beans and peas because of the nitrogen they add to the soil. 
 Legumes-peas for spring, beans for summer
Group 2-Leaf Plants-the ones you eat the leaves of like lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.  These need high amounts of nitrogen. 
 Growing fabulous lettuce and greens
How to grow broccoli and cauliflower
Cabbage is nutritious and easy to grow
Group 3-Fruiting plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, squash, potatoes (part of the tomato family) and cucumbers.  These need high amounts of phosphorous for fruiting.
Group 4-Root plants like garlic, onions, carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, sweet potatoes.  They are great for loosening the soil. These need high amounts of potassium.
Perennial onions and other alliums
All about beautiful beets 
All you need to know about growing carrots 
All about turnips
Easy to grow crispy, peppery radishes

By keeping the groups together, you can boost nutrient addition to the soil that each group needs without negatively affecting the production of the others.  For instance, the leafy group needs lots of nitrogen, but if you give large amounts of nitrogen to the fruiting plants, they will produce lots of greenery and no fruit.

Mark down on a piece of paper where you planted each group.  Next year, just rotate them around with Group 2 going into Group 1’s spot, Group 3 going into Group 2’s spot, etc.  Just keep moving them in that order each year and write it down each year so you don’t forget!

This applies to your pots as well.  Make sure you rotate the vegetable you put in each of your pots.  I keep my vegetable marker in my pots from the previous year so in the spring, I know exactly what I grew in the pot the previous year.

Don’t worry if you can’t keep them all exactly in these 4 groups.  Just make sure you don’t have the same type of plant going into the same spot or pot every year.  Interplant with companion plants to keep each strong if you don’t have the space to do full blown crop rotation.  If using pots, be sure to to revitalize your potting soil each season to keep your veggies going strong year after year.
Re-energize your potting soil!

Just add your other veggies in with one of the other groups to balance out the area each uses in the garden so you can just move the whole group from one section of the garden to the next easily.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Make your own hot sauce!

Homemade hot sauce
Saturday, November 17, 2018

If you had a bumper crop of spicy peppers and want to make your own hot sauce, it is super easy and inexpensive!  All you need to buy is apple cider vinegar.  Or you can make your own.......
Make your own apple cider vinegar
Make your own flavored vinegars 

I take a pint or quart jar and either use fresh or frozen Jalapeño or cayenne peppers from our garden.  I slice them in half and fill the jar, add 5-10 cloves of garlic and cover with raw organic apple cider vinegar and let sit for a few weeks in the pantry.  I then put all contents in the jar into a food processor and put back into the jar.  Wah-la!  Homemade hot sauce.  If you like it hotter, add habaneros or other super hot peppers.

Don't be concerned when a rubbery substance appears on the top of the liquid.  This is just the "mother" that does the fermenting of your peppers.  You'll get a similar mother on kombucha and homemade apple cider vinegar.
The "mother"
We use hot sauce to make wings for football game day watching.  We grill the chicken wings, then put into the sauce and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

For the sauce, I use about a half jar of the pickled garlic and peppers with 3 tablespoons of butter, 1/8 cup of Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons of bacon grease.  If you would like a thicker sauce, use 1 tablespoon of bean or almond dissolved in cold water and then add to hot sauce.  Let simmer for 5 minutes and it is ready for the wings.

You can use any hot peppers you have.  Have fun and experiment until you find a taste that is perfect for you.  Peppers are one of the easiest veggies to grow and do great in a pot or in the ground.  Peppers are for every taste and garden  They will even grow indoors if placed in a bright spot.

For other ways to preserve your bountiful pepper harvest, see Preserving peppers

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Reflecting back on 2018, planning for 2019


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Now is the time to reflect back on the last edible garden season to capture what went well and what did not.  What you planted too much of and what you didn't plant enough of.  Make sure to include the names of varieties that did well and those that didn't so you have them for future reference.   

Here are my reflections on this year's garden............

Overall
In general, the garden did pretty good.  There were high points and not so great turn outs for the season.  Just your typical edible garden season!  

The good
The cultivated dandelions, cilantro, sage, rosemary, lettuce, corn salad, sorrel, tarragon, garlic, onions, basil, rosemary, sage, tarragon, spaghetti squash did fabulous!

The okay
The eggplants did pretty well.  I planted 2 varieties this year "White Star" and one that is advertised to stay sweet, even in the heat "AO Daimaru".  They both did stay sweet even during the sauna summer and early fall.  The white eggplant was super attractive to the flea beetles.  Insecticidal soap or diatomaceous earth will get them under control.  The green beans got ate by the groundhog so we didn't get many for ourselves this year.

The peppers and tomatoes did well.  I got a bumper crop of tomatoes this year.  The tomatoes and peppers did get fruitworms and stinkbugs in the middle of the summer that I had to use BT on (bacillus thuringiensis) to get rid of them.  I will definitely throw away all these plants and not compost to be sure the eggs don't survive through the winter compost pile.  Will also clear out the garden and not leave until spring.

The garlic did pretty well.  There were some cloves that did not make it; most did.  The ones that did gave nice bulbs.  I pickled 4 or 5 quarts of garlic.  This will be plenty for what we will use.  This is my favorite way to preserve garlic as it keeps for years.  Quick tip-”peeling” garlic

The chard had something eating on it until the temps chilled down.  They have recovered and doing great again.  For year round steamed greens, grow chard!

For some reason my chives did not expand much.  They are perennials so will come back every year.  Add chives to your garden

The bad
So my kale, sprouting broccoli and cabbage all get attacked by pests this year.  They are all in the same family.  I said I wasn't going to grow any this year to break the cycle, but had some volunteers that I didn't have the heart to yank out.  I started spraying with insecticidal soap to get them healthy again.  The key to these veggies is to harvest them early in the season before the pests set in.  Next year, I will be strong and wait until fall to get them going after the pests have moved on.

The stevia plant I purchased from a local greenhouse got infected with mealybugs.  These are common on indoor plants or greenhouse grown plants.  They can be treated with alcohol or neem oil.  This is one of the risks when purchasing bedding plants that they will have some type of pest that you bring into your own garden.  Late in the season, these spread to my potted peppers.

I didn't have the best luck in getting my fall spinach sprouted this fall for winter harvesting.  Hopeful the spinach still has time to get going in the portable greenhouse.  Otherwise, I'll have a jump start on spring!

The groundhog also feasted on the summer squash so we got very few for ourselves.  That was okay as we had a bumper crop last year and still have plenty in the freezer.  The vines looked healthy and put on lots of babies for the hungry critter.

I also did not plant okra this year as I have tons left in the freezer. 

Tomatoes
I tried some new tomato varieties and also planted my standbys.  Most of the new varieties did not pan out the best, but a couple I will add to next year's garden.  
-Tried Indigo Pear Drops this year.  It has fun colored fruits.  The vine grows very tall on its own.  I planted late in the season to keep the harvest going through fall.  I did get quite a few fruits.  If I plant again, I would plant earlier and pinch back the vine to keep it more compact.
-Cherokee Purple did well as usual.  Nice slicers.  This is one that always does well in our garden.  Will keep in the garden next year.
-Italian Red Pear an heirloom paste had a health vine, but ripened late and took a long time.  I planted it in full sun this year, but late in the season because the first plant got cut off at the ground by something.  This was too late to get many fruits.  Next year, I'll plant in full sun again, early in the season and 2 plants instead of just 1.  Adding these to sauce makes a smooth, creamy sauce.  
-I had Amish Paste in the garden this year.  I have tried it before and did not get many from the plant.  This time it did well, giving paste tomatoes much sooner than the Italian Red Pear.  The Amish Paste fruits are smaller so don't take as long to form.  I'll keep it in the garden next year.  I try to put at least some paste tomatoes in each bag of sliced tomatoes that I freeze.
-Tried 2 Brandywines this year, the traditional pink and True Black.  The True Black did the best of the two.
-Tried Black Krim a second time.  It did decent in our garden.  The fruits were huge.  
-Other new varieties did okay, but will not try them again because they didn't thrive in the garden-Box Car Willie, Costoluto Genovese, and San Marzano.
-I planted a couple of black tomatoes that I had seed for, but was too late in the season to really get going.
-Lastly, I grew Boronia in a pot as it is an heirloom compact type.  It did decent until late in the season.  Its fruits are more like paste tomatoes.
Next season what I'd like to add to the garden is more meaty medium size chocolate tomato.  Typically, smaller tomatoes get started sooner than the large tomatoes.  
Tomatoes 101, everything you need to know to grow great tomatoes

Spaghetti squash harvest on hummingbird vine
Summer and Winter Squash
The summer squash plants did well but the groundhog got all the fruits.  I will do these again next year-Early Prolific Straightneck and Cocozelle Zucchini.   It is recommended you either wait until the second week of June to plant your squash or do a second round of planting in July to have healthy plants for the entire summer.  Will definitely plant both varieties next year and do a second crop mid summer to keep the harvest going.

I planted winter squash this year, spaghetti squash and it did well.  The groundhog only got 1 or 2 fruits.  I'll add this to the garden for next year. 
Everything you need to know to grow squash

Eggplant
I had 2 potted eggplants going this year.-White Star and AO Daimaru.  The white and green both did well.  The white varieties typically have the least bitterness, but are very hard to grow from seed.  This green one also did not become bitter in the heat.  I'll do both again next year.  I do also like the taste of Turkish Orange.  The flea beetles went to town on it last year and it did not do very well.  I may try it again and just be more vigilant on the flea beetles.  
Eggplant-add this native from India to your garden

Peppers
I have been able to freeze about a pint of sliced peppers every week.  I had 6 sweet pepper plants.  I had planted a few seeds from sweet banana peppers I bought at the store that I grew out 2 years ago.  They didn't look anything at all like a banana pepper and were smaller than the ones from last year, but they tasted great and did extremely well.  

The Pablano pepper plants did well.  I grow those to make chili powder.I have a small hot pepper plant that is ages old, Chiltepin.  It took 3 tries, but I was finally able to get it to grow.  I have them in a pot that I bring in to overwinter each year.  I like putting small hot peppers in my seasoned salt and pickled garlic and wanted to grow my own.  They are covered with the tiny hot tots!  

The spicy ones I will grow again next year are the Pablanos and Chiltepin.  And definitely the sweet peppers from last year's seeds.  They did great and were very tasty and prolific.
Peppers are for every taste and garden

Cucumbers
I planted 3 different varieties of cucumber vines.  I got only a few fruits from both the Miniature White and Hmong Red.  I got lots from the Jaune Dickfleischige vine.  These are huge yellow fruits, if you let them grow, with tough outer skins.  The fruits keep for months on the counter.  I'll plant a white one and a green variety again next year.
Cucumber info and tips for growing
View between the pole beans in the edible garden
Beans and peas
The pole green beans did great this year, but the groundhog ate them all.  I planted purple and green Romano types.  The beans and flowers were very pretty.  The green Romano are stringless and the purple Romano type had a small string that was easy to remove before freezing.  I will definitely keep these (Romano and the purple Blauhilde) in my garden next year..

I planted peas in the pots in the spring.  The groundhog ate the vines.  Pea vine tips and flowers are tasty.  I will grow them again next year.  I like snow peas; more veggie for your space since you can eat the entire pod!    

I had tried three pole storage beans this year-Portal Jade, Good Mother Stollard and King of the Garden lima beans.  The Portal Jade and the Lima beans did not produce much.  Good Mother Stollard went to town!  I got quite a lot from these vines and they are still producing.  I think it is fun to have different color and sized beans in the chili I make.  I did not do the storage beans again.  They don't produce nearly as much for the space as green beans.
Okra
I planted okra for the first time last year and these guys did fabulous.  I planted two varieties-Red Burgundy Okra and a green variety.  Both did very well.  I think I will stick with the Red Burgundy for future gardens or try a dwarf variety for the future.  I didn't realize how tall okra gets!  Some of these plants grew to 8+ feet tall.  They produced all summer long and are still producing and growing in height.  They did well enough that I did not need any in this year's garden.  I just sliced and froze them.  I am planning on using them in soups and roasts.  They were pretty tasty just boiled in a pan of chicken broth.
Growing and harvesting okra
Our very tall okra last year
Garlic and onions
The garlic and onions did well this year.  The Egyptian walking onions did great!  I hardened the garlic on our covered deck.  I'll replant the best producing garlic which always includes Elephant garlic.  I like to grow the ones with large cloves that are easy to peel.  I pickle my garlic so I can use it year round.  It has been warm this fall.  I'll be planting the cloves soon for next year's harvest.
Everything to know about growing onions
Time to plant garlic! With growing tips......
Herbs
I had a bumper crop of basil this year; most were Holy Basil volunteers from last year's garden.  The other herbs did well, too.  We have rosemary, tarragon, bay, sage, parsley, chives, and mint.  I keep peppermint in a pot so it doesn't take over the garden. The dill went to seed early.  I use tarragon in the summer after the cilantro has bolted.  It adds a different taste, but is still good.  Most of my herbs are perennials.  If the rosemary doesn't make it through the winter, I'll replant it again next year.  Right now, both rosemary plants-Tuscan Blue and Arp look great.  I will always start basil and dill in the spring, along with cilantro if it doesn't come back from seed.  Can't have a garden without them.  The bay plants I bring in for the winter.  They are not hardy in this zone but do fine overwintering in the garage.
Start a kitchen herb garden!

Greens
I'll keep the same recipe for greens.  I have many perennial greens and self-sowers that give greens pretty well year round.  Perennial greens-sorrel, cultivated dandelions, arugula, chard.  Perennial veggies in the Midwest garden  Self-sowers-corn salad, purslane, cilantro, mustard greens, salad burnet.  Try self-seeding veggies and flowers  I'll continue to have several types of lettuce and spinach.  The standbys are red and green romaine, Red Sails, and some type of buttercrunch.  Red and Green Oakleaf used to be a standby as you can harvest individual leaves for salad. They always do well.  I hadn't had those recently but sowed them for the winter garden in the mini greenhouse.  They have done well through the winter under cover.

Zinnias and morning glory in edible fall garden
Flowers
I always have flowers in the garden.  I started gardening with flowers.  They are pretty and bring pollinators to your edibles, increasing the harvest.  I had a ton of self-seeding zinnias that returned from last year.  Most were a fuchsia color.  I pulled most of them to space them out in the garden and plant other colors.  Will definitely include marigolds.   The Hollyhocks I planted this season should return on their own.  I love the giant ruby red cock's comb that my dad sent me seeds for.  I'll keep them in the garden every year.  I had many volunteers in the garden this year.  I grew alyssum from seed as I couldn't find any bedding plants.  Most came as white.  Found the best way to get them going is to just sow in a pot, let them get to a decent size, then transplant into the garden.  I'll do red Hummingbird vine, a blue Morning Glory vine, and a white tropical vine like Moonflower.  If you want all edibles in your garden, there are many flowers that fit the bill!  Flowers that are edible  

The garden season is not over yet.  There will be much to enjoy through most of the winter. We will have arugula, mustard greens, lettuce, chard, blood veined sorrel, garden sorrel, French and Italian dandelion, spinach, lettuce, purslane, corn salad, chives, parsley, cilantro, celery and sprouting broccoli for salads.  The Egyptian onions will produce all through winter.  The herbs will be available for harvesting until the snow covers them up.