New Seeds Spring 2010 & Garden Prep

I received both of my seed orders last week. With the exception of my potatoes order, I have everything in now. I’m in planting mode now.

Here’s what I bought to add to my leftovers from last year.

From SeedSaver’s Exchange…

  • Cinnamon Basil OG
  • Calypso Beans OG
  • Listada de Gandia Eggplant OG
  • British Wonder Pea OG
  • Anna Swartz Hubbard Squash OG
  • Ailsa Craig Onion
  • Grandma Einck’s Dill OG
  • Napoleon Sweet Pepper OG
  • Sunberry OG
  • Sultan’s Green Crescent Bean OG
  • Purple Pod Pole Bean OG
  • Sweet Marjoram OG
  • Galeux d’ Eysines Squash OG
  • Ireland Creek Annie Bean OG
  • Bushy Cucumber OG
  • Aurora Pepper OG
  • Golden Midget Watermelon OG
  • Arugula (aka Roquette) OG
  • Snow Fancy Pickling Cucumber OG
  • Black Mountain Watermelong OG
  • Hidatsa Shield Figure Bean OG
  • Cherokee Trail of Tears Bean OG

From FreedomSeeds…

  • Ashworth Yellow Sweet Corn OG
  • Provider Beans OG
  • Valencia Tomato OG
  • Brandywine Tomato OG
  • California Wonder Pepper OG
  • Eden’s Gem Melon OG
  • Petit Gris Melon OG
  • Prize Choy, Pac Choi OG
  • Double Yield Cucumber OG

I bought a nice little Moleskin-like notebook in which I am tracking, among other things, my seeds and planting schedule. I’m using the Texas A&M Extension recommended planting dates for our area of Texas. We are in an 8A zone. Today is February 28th. That means I need to get the following in the ground within the next day or two. Beets, Spinach, Carrots, Parsley, & Onions. I’ll also start putting my herbs and flowers in the ground this week. They include marjoram, sage, lavender, basil, oregano, dill, chives, thyme, marigolds, echinacea, & sunflowers. This year I again am planting in two different gardens. There is the small one in our backyard, 32 square feet, and the large one at the family acres, ~2900 square feet. I’ll be putting mostly herbs and flowers in at home. The bulk of the veggies and beans will be planting in the larger garden.

We just weeded the small garden. My wife and sons helped. The soil still is loose and rich. No problems there, with one exception. There are some ants living on the corner of each of the 4×4 square foot garden frames. As I growing everything organically, I’m limited in how I can deal with them. My first effort will be boiling water. That does fairly well, but doesn’t always keep them away. I may remove the corner soil, with the ants in it and replace it. Fortunately, they are not fire ants, so I am only a little concerned at this point. Still, I’d rather they be gone.

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Taking Inventory from Fall 2009’s Garden

Here’s what I have left over from Fall 2009. (OG=organic), with some comments below.

From FreedomSeeds.org

  • 0 seeds, De Cicco Broccoli OG
  • 0, Cardinale Lettuce OG
  • 0, Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage
  • 0, Reine de Glaces Iceberg Lettuce OG
  • 0, Ashworth Yellow Sweet Corn OG
  • 225, Detroit Dark Red Beets OG
  • ~50, Deer Tongue Lettuce OG
  • ~75, Grandma Admire’s Butterhead Lettuce OG
  • ~100, Red Giant Mustard OG
  • ~60, Red Velvet Leaf Lettuce OG
  • ~100, Forellenschluss Lettuce OG
  • ~220, Bloomsdale Spinach OGF

From SeedSaver’s Exchange

  • 0, Red Russian Kale OG
  • 0, Blue Solaize Leek
  • 0, Lacinto Kale OG
  • 0, Ailsa Craig Onion
  • 0, Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans OG
  • 0, Calypso Beans OG
  • 0, Long Island Improved Brussel Sprouts
  • 0, Early Snowball Cauliflower
  • 0, Agate Soybean OG
  • 26, Good Mother Stallard Beans OG
  • 26, Purple Pod Pole Beans OG
  • 37, Rhubarb Swiss Chard OG
  • 64, Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard OG
  • 81, Red Burgandy Okra
  • ~60, Jolly Jester Marigold
  • 250, English Lavender
  • 250, Common Chives OG
  • 250, Purple Top White Globe Turnip

From GreenMama’s Organic Garden Center

  • 0, Blue Lake Pole Bean OG
  • 0, Early Prolific Straightneck Summer Squash OG
  • 0, Contender Bush Bean OG
  • 16, Black Beauty Zucchini Summer Squash OG
  • 18, Marketmore Cucumber OG
  • ~80, Canival Blend Carrot OG
  • 34, Elves Blend Sunflower OG
  • 38, California Wonder Sweet Pepper OG
  • 17, Sugar Snap Peas OG
  • ~200, Cherry Belle Radish OG
  • ~200, Bouquet Dill OG
  • 4, Prairie Coneflower Echinacea OG
  • 32, Ace Bush Tomato OG
  • ~50, Common Oregano OG
  • ~200, Moss Curled Parsley OG
  • all (unopened packet), Moss Curled Parsley OG
  • all, Greek Yeveni Mini Basil OG
  • all, Marjoram OG
  • all, Mizuna Mustard, Siu Cai, Xiu Cai OG
  • all, Common English Thyme OG
  • all, Broadleaf Garden Sage OG

My biggest successes certainly were the beans and the lettuces. The kale and swiss chard came in well too, but they were not as well received by my family. I think the general consensus was that the flavors were too strong. I agree the flavors were strong, but I still like both vegetables. I’d choose swiss chard over kale, though. The beans were prolific enough to give us a fair supply in our freezer, from which we are still occasionally drawing. I mixed all of the varieties together, rather than store them separately. I enjoy the blend of flavors, colors, and shapes. In spite of two snows now, the lettuces I planted still are producing. I now know that I can grow produce year-round here. Wonderful.

Some of my failures for last Fall’s crop were: corn-it didn’t really come up to speak of, carrots-I really like carrots, but I managed to grow only a sparse crop of poor tasting ones, broccoli-another one I was looking forward to, but for lack of attention or poor pollination, it didn’t come in well enough.

The others were a mixed bag. I picked some squash, though only a few. We enjoyed them baked with brown sugar, my favorite way to have squash. I had a varment devour a few of my plants. I didn’t get around to planting a few. Many were not taken care of sufficiently.

However, I went into my Fall planting in a bit of a rush. I got to it late in the season. The soil was only prepped by tilling. I hadn’t done any soil amendments. I have yet to fence in the area. Regular watering last season consisted of relying on the rain. Much of the above is due to the fact that I, for the time being, am doing most of my gardening away from home, as it were. My large plot is on my parents’ land. Here at our house we garden around 20 square feet. So, considering the rough start. I was pleased with the outcome. I expected no more that first season.

Next…on to this Spring. My new seeds have arrived. The snow, hopefully, has done its worst ’til next year.

Wednesday’s Harvest

gardenharvest11112009

At lunch today, my mom came out to the garden and helped me pick green beans. Here is today’s harvest-some for her, some for my aunt (her neighbor), and some for me, the wife, and our kids.

Here are some previous harvests.

gardenharvestw3squash

gardenharvestonpapertowel

Back To Gardening

All of my gardening plans were put on hold. My wife’s grandpa passed away. We had to take a trip to attend the funeral. He had a long life with many friends and a large family. He lived well.

 

Now my attention is turned back towards our garden and our backyard overhaul. My seedlings made it through the two nights of freezing temperatures, thanks to the leaves and plastic with which I covered them. My boys were so excited to uncover them and see how the seedlings are doing. This week we finally will get around to planting the other 4’x4′ square. We’ll also begin work on the treehouse and plant several decorative plants my wife got for the patio and yard. Nearby our neighborhood is a place that is offering decent dirt by the car/truck load for free. We may pick up some of that this weekend to build up part of our yard for more planting.

 

I have decided to extend my planting to around the side of our house. I am going to build a long planter box to line the fence beside our side walkway. In there I’ll be planting a variety of herbs, both medicinal and culinary. The area gets good noon and afternoon sun; I think they’ll do fine there.

 

Having seen the pooling from the rain a few days ago, I think I will be leveling portions of our backyard. I plan on using the post and string method to measure for level across different points of the yard and then to build up the ground until I get a more uniform surface (leaving a mild slope to keep the water from running towards the house.

A Delay in the Gardening

First it rained all day. Then it got really cold and windy (still is). Add to that an unexpected family member’s passing (my wife’s grandpa), and that means no gardening for a few days. Everything will be on hold til next week. I did get the seedlings covered in case it gets too cold tonight and tomorrow night.

Garden Beginnings

We worked in the yard this evening, my wife, kids, and I. Finally got all of the leaves up. Cleaned up the overflow from the roughly made compost pile I started a little while back. Trying to whip it into shape. Moved some things around to make room for new plantings over the next couple of weeks. Started clearing the beds. Added soil to the second four foot square-square foot garden plot-elevated with a decent soil mix to start out my first year gardening at home (since I was a kid). I haven’t found coarse vermiculite locally and didn’t get around to ordering it off the web. So, I started with an 80% compost 20% manure mix (all organic); I couldn’t use much of the yard’s existing soil, since my neighborhood was built by throwing an extremely thin layer of cheap topsoil over a rocky mess. I may have the garden soil too ‘burning’, but it seems to be ok so far. We planted seven plants (squares) a week ago, all with heirloom non-gmo organic seeds. All but two are sprouting now. I am hopeful. We’ll plant more tomorrow.