One of the most important chores we perform every year in the garden actually has little to do with physical labor – but everything to do with making it more successful next year.

Each season, in mid-September, we take a little time to perform a garden review – walking through and jotting down the facts and thoughts of what worked well – what didn’t – and what we want to do next year.

Fall is a great time for a garden review because it’s all still fresh in your mind. You can see and make notes of what pests attacked what and when – what you planted too much or too little of – and which varieties performed well – and which didn’t quite live up to your expectations.

Taking notes now from your garden makes it much easier to plan next Spring!
Taking notes now from your garden makes it much easier to plan next Spring!

It’s important to get the info down on paper now so you can avoid making the same mistakes when you plan and plant next season’s garden. Trust me when I say waiting until Spring and attempting to remember what you did or did not do in last year’s garden is a big mistake – Old Man Winter and Father Time can fog even the best memory quickly!

It’s amazing to look back at our notes over the years and see how much they have helped to make our garden more and more productive with each successive gardening season.  So as we walked through the garden this year to make our notes – we thought we would share our top 4 performing plants from our 2015 garden – we hope you enjoy – and feel free to comment below and let us know what worked best in your garden this year!

Our Top 4 Plants From 2015:

Italian Roaster:

Roaster Pepper
It is easy to pick out the Italian Roaster from this week’s picking of peppers

This plant has now rocketed to the top of our list for peppers! It is one of the first peppers we have picked now for the last two years – and only seems to get better as the year goes on. In fact – our Italian Roaster plants are still loaded with huge peppers – some of which measure  over 12″ long!

The peppers start out firm and green and turn to a beautiful red as they mature. Their thick walls make them great for stuffing or for holding up well on the grill – and their mild but sweet green bell-like taste is simply delicious.

Amish Paste Heirloom Tomato

The thick meaty texture of the Amish Paste tomato
The thick meaty texture of the Amish Paste tomato

The Amish Paste heirloom tomato has really become a star in our garden as well – becoming our go-to tomato for making and canning our pasta sauce, picante and salsa.

The beauty of the Amish Paste is that it keeps on producing well into the late fall – in fact, we picked nearly 3/4 of a bushel yesterday – not bad for a late September picking! The fruits are meaty, firm and high in acidity – making them the perfect choice for canning.

Chocolate Cherry Tomato

The Chocolate Cherry Tomato
The Chocolate Cherry Tomato

As far as cherry tomatoes go – the Chocolate Cherry was the clear-cut winner. This heirloom variety produced well both in the garden, and in our patio planter at the house.  It produced hundreds upon hundreds of perfectly round dark reddish-brown fruits that burst with flavor.

They are perfect in salads, salsa – and were very easy to juice as well. One note – one or two plants may be more than enough – the sheer volume can be overwhelming! We harvested over 80 from one mature plant on a single day this past summer.

Atomic Red Carrots

The atomic carrots are great for home made slaw too!
The atomic carrots are great for home-made slaw too!

These carrots were not only easy to grow – but their deep red color make them a conversation piece! They are also high in lycopene, making them a very healthy choice to grow as well. The Atomic Red performed really well in our raised beds, even through an extremely wet early Spring and Summer. We love to add them to salads for their great taste and color – but they are also the perfect choice for cooked carrots with their thick and meaty texture.

Happy Gardening! – Jim and Mary

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