Friday, February 22, 2013

Peppers, cauliflower, peppers, cabbage, peppers, leeks, and peppers.

Dreary day today, and the snow is falling down, perfect for planting.  I wish.  I would prefer a little sunshine, but you take what you get.  Being that we are at about 11 ish weeks until around our last frost, I had some seeds that needed to get started.  I am going slightly ahead of schedule, just a week or two, but mother nature was ahead of schedule last year, and I would bet she is again this year.  So I am planning accordingly.

Last year we planted some mini peppers, and they were a little too mini, as in the size of a large marble.  And Mike was the only pepper eater in the family.  This year, Jonathan has a new found love for red, orange, and yellow peppers,  as in he eats them almost every day in his lunch.  And I am tolerating them much more than I use to, and even enjoying the every now and then.  So we are planting peppers.  To eat, and to freeze.  They freeze great if you dice them up, and they are great to add on to homemade pizza, in omeletts, hash browns, homemade sloppy joes, and much more.  We will eat what we can, and the rest we will dice and freeze.  W are planting King Of The North, which is a hardy sweet red pepper good for short growing seasons, California Wonder, a sweet yellow pepper, and 2 Jalapeno plants which I saved seeds from a farmers market pepper, and trying again the Burpee organic Carnival Pepper mix.  I was hesitant with the Burpee seeds, even though they were organic, worried that they were owned by Monsanto. They are in fact not owned by Monsanto, however they do get some seeds from a Monsanto subsidiary..  They also pledged not to sell any GMO seeds.  They are not my first choice in seed companies but I did want to try out these peppers. In all, I planted 2 Jalapeno plants, 2 Carnival Pepper, 4 King Of The North, and 4 California Wonder.

I planted the Giant Of Naples from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  4 of these giants.  Let's hope they live up to their name.  After our broccoli fail last year we are trying cauliflower instead.  This we will eat raw, or cook up, or freeze. Everyone but Lilah likes cauliflower, but she will at least take a few bites.

Late Flat Dutch, and this bad boys look huge.  In the seed packed picture a little boy is holding up a giant head of cabbage.  I hope mine look as nice when they are done growing.  I am also planting 4 heads of cabbage. I plan on using most of it to can sauerkraut   And eat some fresh sauteed or as coleslaw.  We bought a few small cabbage plants last year, they did decent despite the fact that they went out late and it was super hot and dry last summer.  Hoping starting these early will give them enough time to mature.

I love leeks.  In scrambled eggs, quiches, soups, you name it.  I bought quite a few from the farmers market last year, they last a while in the fridge, and I even diced and froze quite a few.  These seem to be needy.  I will be taking half the dirt out of the squares in the garden before they are transplanted outside.  Then when planted, you have to pile the dirt up around them as they grow to get more of the white are in the leeks, and that is the best part.  This is our first time planting leeks.  Hopefully we'll have enough time to tend to them.  I am planting 12 of them to start.  Technically you can put 9 in a square foot, but I think I am going to do 2 squares with 6 in each.

All of these seeds are in one of my larger seed trays, covered with a clear lid.  They are watered good and the lid will stay on until the seeds germinate. Until they germinate, they like it warm, so they will be hanging out on top of the dryer for a week or so.  After that they will move to the counter in the kitchen under a grow light.

Let's hope I can keep these all alive for the next 10-12 weeks.  Fingers crossed.  And toes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Today is special.  Because it is Wednesday.  And I do not have to work.  Even though I love work, I also love home. 

And today I planted the first plant of the year. 
Rhubarb.  Glaskins Perpetual to be exact.  From Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  My favorite seed company.

I read somewhere on Pinterest that Rhubarb starts sprouting sometime in February outdoors, and first cutting is ready in March, April.  So I decided I better get a move on.

We were gifted some rhubarb last summer by a coworkers of Mike's, and we planted it, but it seemed to die off right away.  I have hopes that it may come up this year, but just in case I ordered seeds.

Rhubarb seeds are funny looking, and need to be soaked a few hours before planting. I have no idea if one seed grows a big rhubarb plant, or just one stalk.  I am still kind of new to this gardening thing.  So I soaked 12 seeds for a few hours, and planted them this afternoon indoors.  I am hoping I will be able to put them outside early to mid March.

I am also hoping I do a better job at tracking events like today, when I plant the seeds indoors, when I put them outdoors, and when I can start harvesting.

I moved my garden map to excel this year.  And I also have a spreadsheet that tracks such gardening details as I mentioned above. 

I have high hopes for seed saving this year.  I did save some seeds from a Jalapeno pepper that I purchased at the farmers market last year, and plan to plant this year.

For now, here are some very exciting pictures of Rhubarb seed starting.  Hopefully in a few more weeks I will have more seeds starting, and Rhubarb growing happily.

2012 Garden Review, and 2013 Garden Plan

I am a blog slacker.  But I can't quite delete it either.  So we are stuck her in limbo where I post a few times a year.  I would make a promise to post more this year, and I would like to, but life happens. 

I know it's only the beginning of February, but I am already dreaming of spring.  I held on to my seed catalogs and waited to browse until January. And I browsed.  And Made Lists.  And ordered.

Our garden plans were so big last year I really did not know if we would accomplish everything we wanted to, but we did.  And we learned a lot.  Somethings worked well, some worked a little too well, and some not so well. 

For our 5 raised beds, we used the Square Foot Gardening method.  I love how our beds look all sectioned off, and they were easy to plant this way. 

We did however find a few things that this method did not work so well for:

Zucchini, even though we use a teepee trellis, they needed more room. 

"Picking" tomatoes (smaller tomatoes for snacking and eating), I have these "small" tomato plants 4 squares, which I thought would be more than enough room, two plants could easly fill an entire bed.  These seriously were the biggest, highest producting, tomato plants I have ever seen.  For real.  I don't know if is the garden soil mix we got that was half compost, or all of the compost and egg shell powder that I added, but we had a phenominal crop.  No bugs, no disease, just lots of healthy tomatoes.  And I lost my basil to them.  As in the tomatoes took over the basil squares and  the basil did not get enoough light, and was lost under the tomato branches.  And I am allergic to tomato plants.  I break out in a horrible raised red rash that will not go away.  I thought gloves would help, and they do, until I itch another part of my body with them on, or try to take them off.  Anyways though, we had LOTS of little tomatoes.  We planted Black Cherry, Yellow Pear, and Red and Yellow Currant Tomatoes.  I want to try a new variety this year.  Mike does not, as he loved the ones we had.  So we are compramising, we are planting the Black Cherry tomatoes again, and then a few new varieties.  And we are moving all tomato plants out of the raised beds, and in to a separate "tomato garden".

I loved that once the beets were done, I could harvest them, and still have time to plant another full crop of green beans.

We will be making permenant grids for our gardens this year, the twine broke part way through the season on almost all of our beds. 

Pumpkins.  We had 14.  That is a lot.  So this year we are going to try a few different heirloom varities, and a few different squashes and guords.  My high hopes for the luffa guord went down the drain when the plants struggled to survive forgotten in the back of the garden.  This year, I will try again.  Along with bird house guords.  And more melons, as ours did not do so well last year.  And we had squash bugs.  Not sure what they are called, but we had tons.  They seemed to kill the pumpkin plants, but the pumpkins all made it out alive. 

We had "picking" tomatoes from May through October.  Lots. 

This year we are hoping to apply the lessons we learned, and try again, and hope for even better results.  Here are a few pictures from last year, as everything is covered in snow right now. 

The seeds are in now, and it is almost time to begin.