4 Tastiest Crops Of 2017

It’s been a busy year of writing, studying, volunteering and looking after a young family, but the hard work is all worth it when projects and crops come to fruition. Not all our growing endeavours have been successful – we failed to get even one pear, most of our greengage fruitlets were blasted by a late frost and the outdoor tomatoes quickly succumbed to blight and needed swift processing into green tomato pasta sauce. Last year, around this time, I wrote about our least successful crops, so this year I thought I’d focus on those fruits and vegetables which have grown well and given us plentiful and delicious harvests…

1. Quince ‘Meeches Prolific’

Two years ago we added a quince tree to the newly planted side garden which we share with our neighbours. We’d always wanted our own quinces (and medlars – still a wistful dream) and finally had a place to add another fruit tree. Last spring the quince tree was covered in delicate goblets of pink blossom, which I brought inside to work on in watercolour and which, eventually, resulted in ten pale downy fruits. I couldn’t bring myself to thin or remove these precious quinces and wondered if the young root system might suffer as a result.

Quinces are worth growing just for the soft pink open blossoms

But this spring brought another flush of blossom and a whole basketful of delicious fruit. Some of these had started to split, as had the quinces in my parents’ garden – possibly because wet weather in mid-summer meant the fruits swelled faster than the tight skins could cope with. But we picked the split quinces and stewed them with apple and still had plenty of undamaged fruit which is currently filling the kitchen with its aromatic, spicy scent. We’ll also be making quince jelly (great with crackers and cheese) and cinnamon poached quinces (a special dessert for dark winter evenings).

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Quinces and apples from the garden

2. Potato ‘Nicola’

We grew a lot of potatoes this year – too many! But they are keeping well in the ground and still feeding us each week. We preferred the taste of ‘Nicola’ to the other varieties (‘Jazzy’ and ‘Swift’) and not only because of its superior name (!), but also its delicious taste. ‘Nicola’ is a smooth-skinned second early which has cropped well and produced delicious salad potatoes. The yellow flesh retains its colour throughout cooking and so it looks great on the plate. My ‘Nicola’ potatoes were kindly supplied by Kings Seeds and their seed potatoes are on sale from January 2018.

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Half of our potato crop…

3. Chilli ‘Ubatuba’

All the chillies have done well this year and are still cropping enthusiastically in the greenhouse. Of particular note was the perennially successful ‘Hungarian Hot Wax’ – always good for stuffing and the chilli I’d grow if there was only room for one plant (unbearable thought!) Also a heavy cropper, ‘Joe’s Super Long’ is a spicier proposition for chilli jam and curries, but ‘Ubatuba’ has been my favourite new chilli. It produces delightfully squat fruits which are large and mild, with a slightly sharp tang. Another good stuffer, this is one variety I will be attempting to overwinter and definitely including in the reduced (honest!) chilli collection next year.

A selection of our chillies and the ‘Ubatuba’

4. Garlic ‘Persian Star’

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White bulbs with streaked purple cloves inside

Earlier in the year, Julieanne Porter (a lovely gardener and blogger with a self-confessed garlic obsession) kindly sent me some bulbs to plant in containers (and I sent her some of our quinces). She grows many different varieties and was interested in how they would crop elsewhere in the country. ‘Susan Delacour’ wasn’t too successful as some of the bulbs rotted off in late summer, but ‘Persian Star’ created large bulbs, as did my own ‘Red Czech’ and Elephant garlic. The beautiful purple striped cloves of ‘Persian Star’ have a rich taste, but not as strong as some other purple striped varieties. Overall this was a fabulous garlic to grow and cook with – I’ve already got a large bulb stored in the cupboard to plant again in the next few weeks – and the rest of the bulbs will last me through the winter months.

What would you rate as your tastiest crops of the year? Do you have any recommendations for delicious potato, chilli or garlic varieties I can add to my 2018 list? Thank you and Happy Gardening 🙂

My first attempt at depicting the striking goblets of quince blossom

If you’d like to follow my blog, I’ll be writing about my seed choices for next year over the next couple of weeks…

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11 thoughts on “4 Tastiest Crops Of 2017

  1. quietwordsite says:

    Nice watercolour! Those quince blossoms are striking. We enjoyed the ‘kestrel’ variety of potato this year, quite flavourful. Also ‘tee pee’ (dwarf) purple beans were fairly prolific.

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  2. tonytomeo says:

    Suddenly, there are a few articles about quince. I never write about it because I did not know anyone was interested. It is good to see that someone is still growing them. My two trees are copies of a tree I grew up with.

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    • dogwooddays says:

      Hi Tony, they are such a tasty fruit. Unlike you, I discovered quinces as an adult (having mostly apple trees in my childhood garden), but having tasted them and seen the beautiful blossom, I was hooked 😊

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  3. My Dream Garden says:

    Hello there, about 5 months from now I’ll be harvesting fruit from the quince trees which grow wild in the countryside around my home town, in eastern Australia. I make quince jelly too- it’s spectacular on scones.

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    • dogwooddays says:

      Hi Jane, thanks for your comment – I’d love to be able to harvest quince from the wild! Thanks for the scones plan – might ask my husband (the scone-maker) to rustle up a batch at the weekend. 🙂

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  4. Caro says:

    Lucky you having quinces! I thought I’d got FIVE this year (woohoo) but as they ripened, two disappeared and the rest suddenly started to rot on the tree. 😦 Still, as they say, there’s always next year.

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    • dogwooddays says:

      Oh no, that’s awful! Loads on my parents’ tree split and rotted – I think because we’d had a dry period followed by lots of rain. Some on mine went the same way, but we harvested them early and stewed them straight away, so managed to save them. Hope you have more luck next year! 😊

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