The Beginnings of the Garden – 2014

It’s that time again.

Time to find the peat pots, take inventory of last year seeds, order new seeds, and dust off the plant lights.

It seed planting time!

For the past few years the hubby and I have been planting a very big garden for our family of 4. I have been really wanting to pare it down, but it is hard to decide not to grow something you’ve been growing and loving for a few years. I think we may have come up with a plan this year that has us still growing our faves, but not tons of left overs to

can, can, can,

give away, give away, give away,

rot on the vine ’cause I don’t care anymore….. πŸ™‚

Here’s the main plot

Image

The big empty space in the front we call the fig plot since when we moved in this house there was a big fig tree there. We don’t like figs and this piece of land gets prime sunshine almost all day.

Behind the fig plot you can see the brown stakes and wire (hubby’s hops) and the orchard. We have two plum trees, a nectarine tree, 4 apple trees, and a hybrid 4-variety cherry tree (planted last year). I’ll post a few pics of these when they bloom – they are soooooo gorgeous!

The garlic is already in the ground on the far left side, but the rest of the plot is waiting for it to be warm enough to transplant. In the meantime, we started the seeds indoors under fluorescent lighting in peat pots and potting mix.

ImageHere’s what we’re planting this year

ImageThree varieites of peppers

Yellow and red sweet bell peppers and jalapenos (we planted all these varieties last year, yum!)

ImageFour varieties of tomatoes

Two new hybrid (read disease resistant) red tomato varieties -Defiant (determinant) and Estiva (indeterminant). I haven’t grown these varieties before, but they sound promising. I also have never grown a determinant variety, so I am curious how it will fare and how we will like it. I chose the varieties since the seeds catalog professed they were hardy and still had excellent flavor. Also, they are also not super large tomatoes like some of the heirloom varieties that we’ve grown in the past that get too bog, split, and fall off the vine, or ripen uneven. Repeats are thie Big Mama pastes to make sauces and salsa, and my favorite heirloom variety Orange Wellington. We started growing these in New Hampshire and they make the most perfectly round, blemish free, fabtastic tasting orange tomato you ever did see. We will ALWAYS grow these, if I have any say in the matter.

ImageFour varieties of marigolds.

What can I say, I love marigolds, they are easy to grow, bloom until the first hard frost, and need almost no attention. I plant them everywhere for pops of color.

ImageRomaine lettuce, basil, cilantro, and spinach.

These are all special varieties that are heat tolerant and.or slow to bolt, so I can mostly grow them all summer. I also grow these in self watering planters where I can regulate the water better and move them into the shade it we have a super hot spell. I make our own salsa and pesto every season and stock pile it for the rest of the year, so having ample basil and cilantro isΒ  a necessity.

ImageBunching onions, slicing cucumber, and broccoli.

I’ve grown the broccoli in the past and lemme tell you, if you’ve never eaten fresh broccoli you have no idea what it tastes like. Mmmmmmmm……. In past years we’ve tried to grown onions, but we live in a transition region for onions so both short day and long day varieties do pretty poorly. This year I decided to grow bunching onions so we at least have fresh onion tops (or green onions or scallions, whatever you want to call them). Also, in the past I’ve been growing heirloom white cucumbers, but they have been doing poorly. Lats year we had a cool, wet spring and they also sucumbed to powdery mildew. I’m trying a disease resistant variety this year that I can also make pickles with any we cannot eat fresh. The white variety turned to mush when I tried to pickle them. Blech!

ImageHere’s a photo of my helpers in starting the garden. I homeschool these two kiddos, so we incorporate all aspects of the home garden into our lessons. They are expert seed starters and my son will tell you all about the water cycle if you let him. πŸ™‚

I usually get the dirt and pots ready, then hand them a few seeds and they place them in the corrrect pots. Then, I give them each a chop stick and they push the seeds into the dirt. I fix anything that needs fixing and make sure all the seeds are covered properly.

There are two more crops I’ll grow this year, but they will be directly planted outside when the time is right.

ImageSweet corn and soybeans.

This will be my second year for corn and third for soybeans. The corn was so amazing last year it is the only crop we are increasing the number of plants this year instead of decreasing. I also made some corn salsa with the left over corn that the hubby smoked on the grill first and he still proclaims it is the best salsa he has ever eaten. I hope I can find the recipe I used. πŸ™‚ Last year we didn’t get to eat any of our soybeans because we took the protective fencing down too early. We live in front of several acres of woods and there is a rather large resident bunny population. They ate ALL of our soybeans, plant and all, in a matter of days last year. So, this year I think we’ll keep up the chicken wire all season. I want my fresh home grown edamame this year!

ImageAfter sowing all the seeds, I bottom water them until saturated, wrap the tops in plastic wrap and put them under some flouscent lighting to warm them up, keep them moist, and provide much needed light. When they sprout, I’ll take the plastic wrap off and as they grow I’ll move the lights up higher.

ImageThat’s all for now!

Happy Gardening!

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