Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In the Veggie Garden – Let the Planning Begin

It’s a new year and, for some reason, as soon as the holidays are past and the un-Christmafication process is complete, my thoughts turn to my veggie garden. I had some success last summer with my vegetables, even though the temperatures made it rather unbearable to spend as much time as I had hoped, but I was unable to make my little garden as beautiful as I wanted. This year I am planning to get an early start; planning always helps. 

 The list of vegetables that I will grow this year has been fine-tuned and a few new varieties have been added where others have been deleted. I had an overabundance of yellow squash last year and they crowded out my more preferred zucchini so I will only plant my favorite variety of zucchini. I have added two grains: Amaranth and Quinoa. The Quinoa I have chosen because I have become quite enamored with it and Amaranth because it is supposed to help draw certain detrimental bugs to it. 

I had the idea of putting herbs between our neighbor’s yard and our yard because deer are not too fond of strongly scented plants and I figured both our neighbors and we would be able to harvest it when we chose. I will start the seeds before the last frost and get those in place well before it gets unbearably hot this year.  Our herbs for 2013: Italian Parsley, Oregano, Mint, Basil, Thyme and Marjoram.

I have whittled my tomatoes list down from nine last year to five this year. I have chosen to keep my favorite types from last year (Genovese, Pink Brandywine, Lemon Oxheart, San Marzano Lungo No.2) and not bother with some of the others (Purple Russian, Riesentraube, Snowberry, Sungella and Pink Caspian). For some reason, these varieties struggled. Some had blossom end rot and, when I cured that, they were then attacked by tomato horned worms (I HATE those little critters!)  Some I just wasn’t impressed by their flavor. I added the Purple Cherokee tomato to the other four I retained.

In place of the deleted tomatoes, I have added two varieties of eggplant and peppers.  I never managed to get my peppers and eggplants planted last year, with the extra room this year I shouldn’t have the same problem. The varieties of eggplant we are trying this year: Ping Tung and Rotunda Bianca Sfumata Di Rosa. The peppers for 2013: Lipstick, Melrose, Sweet Yellow Stuffing and Red Marconi.

The Dragon’s Egg cucumbers were a huge hit with my little one, as were spinach and leaf lettuce, so those remain but the Swiss Chard was not well received so I will nix that or plant it sparingly. (We will be trying Kale in the fall) 

I will try to plant my onion seed on time (early) this year. Last year, I overlooked it. I have about three or four different varieties, some spring type onions and some bulb.  I hope to also plant a hedge of Lavender near their home since I read that it helps prevent some of the pests that attack young onions.

I also added to my selection of beans this year. Last year, I was late getting them into the ground and with the early arrival of hot temperatures, they did poorly. I also hope to create a bit of a garden arch to shade my pathways between raised beds.  There are also a variety of other veggies I’m trying this year (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi) I’m a bit nervous about these as some are suppose to be trickier to grow than my other veggies, but the family likes them or is open to try them so why not?

Over the next few weeks, I hope to make some headway in the aesthetic planning of the raised bed area. Above is the color palette I'm thinking of to add a pop of color to the cinder blocks and planters. The garden is fenced in with rather unattractive fencing but I am sure there is some way to make it look prettier than it does. 

The other problem I had in 2012 was weeds coming up through the gravel drive and around the fencing. Pavers around the perimeter seem to help keep them in check around the garden perimeter but the drive was out of control. I read that baking soda twice during the growing season helps to keep anything from growing so I will try that in the gravel areas and where we can’t easily weed. 

Here's hoping for a more temperate spring where I can make great progress beautifying my little corner of Heaven! I will try to document any progress in photos.

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