he North Garden continues to thrive with a crew of three to five gardeners on Mondays and help with hardscaping from the regular workday group on Tuesdays.
We were especially grateful for the substantial progress made on Intern Day in the new Donation Garden where we will be demonstrating ridge and furrow gardening and donating the produce to area food banks.
This week we harvested peppers, okra and pole beans and put together 10 family packs of the vegetables for donation. There were plenty of peppers left for the jam and jelly team to make their popular jalapeño jelly. We also harvested the calyces of Roselle Hibiscus for jam.
The pepper varieties we have growing are North Star, Gypsy, Jimmy Nardello, Tajin, Emerald Fire, Poblano, and Sweet Roaster. North Star and Gypsy peppers are heavy producers and 0 on the Scoville Scale. North Star is known for production under a wide range of conditions. Both it and the Gypsy variety are very easy to grow. The Jimmy Nardello peppers are not quite as productive but they have an excellent sweet taste and nice crispy texture.
The Tajin and Emerald Fire are very productive jalapeño hybrids with low to moderate degrees of spiciness. We didn’t see many Poblanos in the Spring and Summer but now that temperatures have dropped, the plants are heavily laden with mild green peppers. The Sweet Roasters were productive and flavorful but unexpectedly hot.
We also grew Clemson Spineless and Hill Country Red okra. The Clemson Spineless is very productive but must be harvested daily to keep the pods from getting tough and stringy. The Hill Country Red is not as productive but it tastes great and the pods are very tender despite their ridged barrel shape.
The Northeaster pole beans are surprisingly delicious. Several gardeners and visitors have tasted them in the garden and all were in agreement that they were very enjoyable even uncooked.
Raincatchers volunteers are always welcome to sample any produce growing in the North Garden. It’s a great way to tell if you would like to grow the same variety in your home garden.
Beverly Allen, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2018