January 20, 2010

Decisions submissions

It's about that time. Yup, time to order my seeds for the new year. I've been scouting, circling, pondering. How many tomatoes? Where to put the mesculn mix? Potatoes: yes or no?

I have made a few finite decisions. The layout of the garden will be in quadrants with the fence remaining on the east side of the garden. And, I will improve my seed starting setup with more shelves, better lighting, and better starting mix. That's where it ends, allowing indecision to take hold.


No more than 8-10 plants. Last year I had at least 12 and it was crowded. They will be planted on the north side of the garden to prevent shading. The garden is
15'x15'. I'll plant two staggered rows. Along with the tomatoes, I'll plant the peppers, basil, and possibly carrots.

Now what varieties? I will keep my hybrid: Big Beef Beefsteak. It was prolific an decent tasting. I might go back to the Super Sweet 100s as my cherry. I grew Black Cherry last year and although they tasted really good, it wasn't a heavy producer and split a lot. I have seeds for Indian Stripe and Granny Cantrell. I think I'll buy Costoluto Genovese and Depp's Pink Firefly.


I want to grow four sweet pepper, a few jalepeno peppers, and one or two hot peppers. I need to decide soon. Varieties include: King of the North and Odessa Market (sweet peppers). For the hot ones, probably the Black Pearl and White Habanero I tried to grow last year, plus a jalepeno variety. These should be started indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost. That means I need to be ready by February 23rd, 10 weeks before my last frost date of May 4.


I want to use a different kind this year. Last year's Royal Chantenay were nice, but had a big inner core which tasted very earthy/woody the longer it stayed in the ground. St. Valery from Baker's Creek looks good to me.


I'm sure I'll be able to get a good spring start on the garden this year, weather always permitting. I'll try out the Lincoln Garden pea.


I really want to expand this area of the garden. I'll continue with the Rainbow Chard and Jericho Romaine. I want to add a Mesculn Mix and Spinach.

Those are the big decisions I need to make. Throw in there cukes, beans and maybe a squash plant. Add a dash of potatoes and eggplant plus a hint of herbs and I may have a complete garden.

January 19, 2010

Who's a good boy?

My three-year-old black lab, Blue Bear, that's who! For that he deserves something special: homemade dog treats. I've wanted to make them for some time now. They've always seemed fairly easy, no more work than cookies. Plus, the fact that I control the ingredients, improving the overall healthfulness and avoid the fillers that plague cheap, store-bought treats makes it a win-win.

An online search yields several recipes with varied ingredients for different flavors or to provide a health benefit. Regardless, they were all basically the same - a stiff dough made with whole wheat. Roll out into desired shapes and bake. Leave in oven overnight to further dry them out for extra crunch. For the bear's treats, I used a mixture of whole wheat, flax seed, peanut butter, garlic, and molasses.

"Hey, mom. Are they done yet??"

Admitedly, these smell great. Somewhere between a cookie and a pot roast. Hahaha. I didn't have a dog bone shaped cookie cutter, but no worries! I DO have a scared Halloween kitty cutout. Is that wrong?

Now if I can just keep my dog food-eating 18 month old away from the treats...

January 16, 2010

Proof: 2009 veggies DO exist!

Yes, I realize I failed to keep this blog updated this past gardening season...I promise to be better about it this year. Sometimes a girl needs a little attitude adjustment. Pictures were being taken all the while, so there is proof I did more than plant seeds. I had a few harvests of tomatoes, lots of cucumbers and a big bunch of basil, not to mention the beautiful sunflowers all summer long. Enjoy!

January 7, 2010

Plan A Garden

A fellow IDigger recommended an online garden planning tool, plangarden.com. It allows you to create your garden and plant vegetables within minutes. It also calculates estimated last frosts and when you should expect to start seeds indoors or directly plant. A built in daily journal of weeding, weather, and pests will allow you to evaluate efficacy and trends within your garden.

I used similar software last year with less features. I enjoyed the fact it gave me a sense of spacing. I realize now it made me too structured, unable to deviate from the plan even if my real-time spacing wasn't adding up. I'm sure that was my own newbie-ness shining through and not the fault of the gardening tool. May experience allow online planning to be a helpful tool in 2010. Cheers!

The homepage features tools for vegetable caculation and vegetable planning. They also created an online community of users utilizing forum and blogging formats. A nifty feature allows you to view other gardens by location. Who knows, maybe we'll find each other one day...although it must be before the 45 day free trial ends!

January 3, 2010

2010 - New Year, Fresh Start

2009 was a disappointing year for the garden. Too much rain, not enough heat, and plants that suffered not only the inclement weather, but my neglect.

The Good

Basil: I grew two plants among my row of tomatoes and peppers. Both did very well. I harvested leaves several times throughout the summer and it always grew more. I never know if I'm supposed to let it flower or not. It did, and I never noticed a big difference in flavor or texture. At the end of the season, I made a big batch of pesto and froze it in ice cube trays.

Cucumbers: I had cukes coming out my ears! I grew a pickling and a slicer. The rain, however, made them GINORMOUS (is that a word?) very quickly. I would harvest them for fear of them rotting on the vine only to have them rot in my kitchen before I could do anything with them. I made a batch of dill pickles (mushy) and a batch of sweet relish (delish!).

Lettuce: The romaine, to be specific. I started seeds indoors, perhaps too early, and set them out in spring. They took awhile to get a foothold, but once they did it was well worth the wait. The romaine was sweet and crunchy. It acted like a cut and come again variety, with almost another full head growing after the initial harvest.

The Bad

Tomatoes: Too much rain. Too much fungus/blight/whatever. Poor support system. Poor spacing between plants. I tried to cram way too much in the space I had allotted. Don't get me wrong, there were a few triumps. The Big Beef Beefsteak was a winner. Both plants grew big and tall and provided with plenty of slicers. I was able to harvest a few Pink Berkley Tie-Dye and Black Cherry tomatoes. Both were delicious. The supposed return of the Black Krim was no return at all, just another Big Beef. The plants I set out later in the season did very poorly. By the time they set fruit, temperatures were dropping and the fungal/blight/terrible-ness had set in. I ended up pulling my Dwarf Red Hearts, Granny Cantrells, and Opalka without tasting.

Brussels Sprouts: What a waste of space! I realize that my timing was WAY off on these suckers as I had planted them in the ground in April. They grew sprouts, but they were tiny and by the time fall came around the bugs had devoured the plants. A wasp had taken up residence inside of one.

Peppers: The bell peppers took forever to set fruit. I think I harvested three small, boxy peppers. The hot peppers didn't even survive transplanting.

Beets: Tiny, small, woody.

The Mediocre: Fair harvest/Okay taste

Pole Beans
Swiss Chard

So what's new for 2010? I'm not sure yet. The catalogs are piling up on the kitchen table. Hopefully a better arrangment, support, and rotation of crops.