I’ve had my seed catalogs for a little over 3 months, and have been trying to narrow down what to grow. That may be as hard as the actual planting and growing. Last year, I grew 2 jalapeno plants. They grew well with little attention. But after harvesting upwards of 300 jalapeno and cutting and dehydrating them, I don’t think I need to grow them this year. But I WANT to grow them! They are so easy and so pretty. That is what is hard for me. Not growing what I don’t need, or in the case of swiss chard, what Fred won’t eat. Luckily this year we are getting pigs, so all the extras can go to them. But still, I must maintain some sense of control when it comes to planting. Or at least that is the plan.
I am moving our garden into the Flax patch now that the flax will be grown in the chicken oasis. Hopefully being closer to where we work, I will tend to it better. Fred gave the plot its last disking and it will be a no-till plot now. I am still learning about the whole non-till method. It is basically a way to keep your soil healthy by leaving the healthy plant residue in place and leaving it to rot. I use organic pest controls like organic pesticides like Bt and neem, picking off insects, trap crops, companion planting, or using row covers, instead of chemicals.
This month I am starting onions, broccoli, cabbage, and kale among others. I made a cold frame out of old windows a neighbor was throwing out. I covered the ground with cardboard and paper and piled horse manure on top of that. Once it starts to compost a bit, the heat should be enough to hold off any nighttime frosts. Hopefully, that will give me the jump start I need.
I am not big on technology. I like to draw out my garden by hand…creating and recreating what it should look like. But last year, Fred convinced me to get the Garden Plan Pro application for the iPad (you can find it at growveg.com and get in on your regular computer, too). I fought him on this and now I am not sure why. I love it! I do still doodle an occasional garden plot idea every so often, but I really love this program. I can list all the plants I want to grow and it gives me the correct spacing, how many plants can go in a given row or area, and what can and can’t be planted where the next year. And I have the option of using varieties from my favorite catalog…Baker Creek Heirlooms (rareseeds.com). So not only have I been pouring through my catalog repeatedly, I have been working and reworking my plans. In case you didn’t notice it…here is my official gold star, must have, go and get this app, seal of approval!
So what have I narrowed it down to? So glad you asked!
Beans–Red seeded asparagus beans, Tepary, Broad windsor favas, Calima
Beets–Sugar beets (for making sugar), Giant Yellow Eckendorf (fodder)Lutz salad, and Red Mangels (fodder)
Brussel Sprouts–Catskill, Churchhill
Carrot–Parisienne, Red Core Chantenay, Danvers half long
Corn–Broomcorn (for making brooms), Rainbow Sweet Inca
Eggplant —Rosita, Long Purple, Black Beauty, Listada De Gandia
Grains and cover crops—Flax, Buckwheat
Kale–Siberian, Forage, Marrow stem
Lettuce–Red leaf Romaine, Little gem
Melons–Green Nutmeg, American melon ananas
Okra —Eagle Pass
Onion—Brunswick, Red Globe, Southport Red Globe, Stuttgarter
Peppers– Padron, Hungarian Paprika, Pasila Bajio, Ancho, Jalapeno,
Radish–Sparkler, Voilet De Gournay
Rutabaga–American Purple Top
Spinach–Amsterdam Prickly, Tyee, Bloomsdale
Summer squash–Fordhook Zucchini, Lemon, Yellow Croockneck
Sweet peppers–Orange Bell, Sweet Choclate, Long sweet hungarian
Winter squash–Waltham Butternut, Baby blue hubbard
Tomatoes–Purple Russian, Royal Chico, Gold Medal, Amish Paste, Opalka, Mariana, Tomato cream sausage, Violet jasper
Turnip–Boule d’or, Purple top white globe, golden globe
Watermelon–Moon and Stars
Basil–Genovese, Red rubin, spicy, Lime
Calendula–Orange King, Triangle Flashback
Dill–Bouquet, Vierling, Fernleaf
Salvia–Blue Monday sage
Sunflowers–Mammoth grey striped
I promise you…this IS the narrowed down list! I went to a seed swap and got some there and some are leftovers from last year. I saw a statistic that said for every $100 you spend on seeds, you can get $1000 in food. Yes, that is justification at its finest. And, I must admit, while I chose these for their ability to do well in Missouri, some of them are from Texas (okra) or Mexico (tepary bean), and that did swayed my decision.
Along with rearranging the plots, I am trying some new things this year. I have been reading about growing melons and squash on trellises and will try that. I am also going to put my sweet potatoes on a trellis as well. That way they don’t root along the vines and try to produce tubers there. If you like sweet potatoes, I will post about making your own slips and growing your own–so easy! I am planting all of the flowers and herbs throughout the gardens to attract beneficial insects. I am going to make a few shallow watering holes for frogs, along with some houses. When I put my tomatoes in the ground, I am going to plant them in a hole about 6-8 inches deep, and as they grow, cut the lower branches and pile the soil up around the stem. Hopefully this will give them strong and deep roots.
I have saved our toilet paper and paper towel tubes and use those as pots. Just cut them in sections and set them in a plastic clamshell container…instant greenhouse! Use them for onions and beets as you can transplant the whole thing and not disturbs the root at all. I use cattle panels to trellis my tomatoes, but will do everything else with pallet trellises.
The garden is getting a good leveling and heaped with compost. By the time anything goes in the ground, the compost will have added lots of nutrients to the soil. I have been giving the girls their morning treat along the garden borders to get them to scratch around and clean up some of the grass and weeds. They do an excellent job!
Now this weather just has to cooperate and warm up a bit.