August 6th, 2010

Test Garden Update: Bill Nunes, Gustine, CA

billnunes I just read Nan’s report in the previous post, so I’m inspired to share some of my results. We’re still staying fairly cool here, though not as cool as San Diego. Very few days over 100 so far this summer and we probably should have had 15-20 so far. No complaints, mind you.

I think the only cool-weather crop I tried in spring was the ‘Magnolia Blossom’ snap peas. They didn’t get a very fair test, having much competition from volunteer sunflowers, which they climbed on nicely. I didn’t get much production, which I’ll credit to the competition. But they are a delicious edible-pod pea. I give them thumbs up!

‘Aton’ basil went in early and started fairly quickly. I didn’t get my usual open-pollinated ‘Genovese’ basil in, so I don’t have a side-by-side comparison. ‘Aton’ makes an excellent pesto, which is par for a ‘Genovese’-type. I will also vouch for long shelf life. It can stay in the kitchen in a vase for 10 days or more. It re-grows to cutting stage pretty quickly, possibly because it is smaller. All in all: an excellent basil. But I see no reason to switch. For a small garden or for container growing there might be an advantage.

On cucumbers I’m very much in agreement with Nan. ‘Little Potato’ looks strangely cool. They’re viciously productive so far. But I (and two of my customers who’ve responded) find them to be too soft and seedy in the middle. Flesh is too thin. Taste like any cucumber. I’ve let some go to about baseball size hoping the flesh would thicken. It didn’t.

I’ve peeled them and scooped out the seeds to form a bowl. Once stuffed them with tuna salad. Tonight filled them with a kind of Caprese salad: chopped onions, crushed garlic, yellow pear and ‘Black Prince’ tomatoes, chopped pieces of ‘Lime Crisp’ cucumbers, fresh mozzarella, seasoned salt. So, the only benefit I see is the novelty of the shape for presentation. Otherwise, if I want a round cuke, I’ll stick with old-fashioned lemon cucumbers.

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