Happy Feast Day of St. Isidore the Farmer! It is fitting to put up my First Garden Post of 2010 today, don’t you think? I got lost a little while ago looking in the archives of this blog at the previous garden posts. Looking at them, I think I am at least 2 weeks ahead of previous years for planting winter squash. I’m hoping that is a good thing. In the meantime…on to the rest of the post…
This is so exciting, this time of year. Last year we did not get a garden in at all. The year before we barely kept the garden up. This year the children are all helping and there is the hope that exists before things start to go wrong (like squash bugs, Japanese beetles, etc.) We have been working very hard in the garden trying to get things in before it’s too late. Our garden is once again surrounded by marigolds and hot peppers, which help keep the deer out. We actually had to get some more marigolds because we spotted a deer print and figured he came in close to the compost pile. We put in a few more “barrier” plants closer to the compost pile and have not seen any more deer prints.
What’s out there this year?
Collard greens…Georgia Southern from seed purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (my favorite seed company!) (You may click on the pictures to enlarge them.) They are growing quite well despite little tiny black bugs trying to eat them. (If you are wondering what the white thing is, that is a rose. Charlotte has been decorating the garden with some of the roses she is picking.) They were the first thing we planted sometime last month and we surrounded the little plot of them with bricks from our creek (of all places.) It was a good thing the kids got them when they did because the remainder were washed away in the last flood.
(New this year, a “white” marigold.)
Radishes…several kinds. Once again the garden features Cherry Belle, Pink Beauty, and German Giant. They are growing well. We also have some Japanese Minowase Daikon radishes. I use daikon on a daily basis so we’ll be planting several rows of these throughout the summer. I’ll probably order some other kind that is better in the cold for the fall and winter. In the late summer, if all goes well, Watermelon radishes will be planted as well. We already have those seeds waiting. Here is an old post about radishes. One of the best things about radishes is how well they seem to grow, and fast, too!
(First hot pepper of 2010.)
(Another hot pepper plant.)
Carrots…they are coming but it will be interesting to see how big these get. They are such tiny little plants now. This year we have some St. Valery, Chantenay Red Core, (both from Baker Creek) and Early Nelson hybrid from Johnny’s Seeds. I picked the Early Nelson because my friend Sue grows them and the taste is just out of this world. The kids love them too.
(Strawberry Patch 2010.)
We have a few beets growing, but it is hard to tell what kind. We planted several rows, but only 2 are coming up nicely. We had some older seeds and figured we’d use them up. We’ll be planting some more in a few weeks anyway. We have Detroit Dark Red and Bull’s Blood waiting to be planted (and I’m sure they are the ones coming up right now.) We like the redder color to go in our Chocolate Red Velvet cakes.
Cucumbers….So far we have 5 hills of cucumbers growing. The seeds have all sprouted nicely and the little plants are growing well. Once again we have Early Russian and Japanese Long. The reason for the Early Russian is that I read in a catalog once that they are never bitter. It seems to be true as I don’t ever have to worry about bitterness with those, at least any that I have ever grown here, where as other types were not as forgiving. The Japanese long have always tasted good as well and we got used to the longer cucumbers with less seeds from buying the ones that Costco sold. Both of these varieties were purchased from Baker Creek (as was most of my seeds!)
(Summer Squash or Cucumber. Funny how they look so similar in the beginning. And to think I only took the picture yesterday and can’t remember!)
Summer Squash….There are several hills of summer squash growing out there. This year I chose to plant only one hill of lemon squash. A few years ago, the lemon squash did so well that I got sick of seeing them! We have Early Prolific Straightneck for yellow, Black Beauty Zucchini and Green Bush Vegetable Marrow green zucchini. Two years ago all the zucchini died for some reason. I’m hoping to have better luck with it this year.
Beans…Most of the beans will be delayed this year as I seem to have misplaced the Kentucky Wonder seeds. The children and I were in WalMart the other day. That is usually not big deal, but that trip the girls were whiny and Veronica was not settling down at all. I tried to find some organic pole bean seeds but they didn’t have any. I went looking for regular bean seeds and saw several varieties. Most were no good because they were bush beans and I needed pole beans. James had already assembled 3 sets of poles for me. We picked some out, and believe me, it was difficult! We ended the trip with the self checkout register giving me $20 back when I had asked for $0! Ugh! Anyway, I digress! This morning I’m out in the garden planting these seeds around 6 poles. When finished, I pulled a label out to mark the beans and to my horror…Tendercrop Bush Beans! Agh! I then proceeded to pull out the poles and relocate them . We’ll have a nice circle of bush beans. After that it was to the internet to Baker Creek to order what I want! In the meantime, my friend Jennifer in New Jersey sent me seeds for Chinese Red Noodle Beans. They were planted the other day around one set of poles. They are long red beans and, if the Japanese beetles aren’t too bad, should look really, really interesting in the garden. (Today I noticed that the red beans have begun to sprout!) The other day we also planted a few Royal Burgundy bush beans. We have had pretty good luck with those in the past.
Watermelon…We are all so excited about the watermelon, especially because they have been sprouting the last few days. Baker Creek once again carried Ali Baba. This variety originally came from Iraq and it has since been impossible to get seed from that country due to the wars. We have grown it before and it is quite tasty. This year we thought we might try a smaller, earlier variety. Blacktail Mountain is the one we chose. The Baker creek catalog said that this variety is heat and drought resistant. The next variety is Georgia Rattlesnake. This is another that we have grown before. The last (from Baker Creek) is Wilson’s Sweet. The Baker Creek Catalog has so many to choose from, it is so hard to limit what to plant! On top of that, I went to Walmart one day and they had organic Moon and Stars variety. I just couldn’t pass that up! So, if the weeds don’t take over, we should have plenty of watermelon!
Tomatoes…I didn’t grow tomatoes for a while because we really don’t eat many of them. However, I like them from time to time in the summer. I started several thinking not many would sprout because the cups and soil I put them in were kind of old. A friend of mine gave me two plants and then a bunch sprouted! We have tons of tomato plants! The varieties are Cherokee Purple, Beefsteak, Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa (that came free with a Baker Creek seed order), Pink German Tree, St. Pierre, and Roma Rio Grande. Just the other day we learned that petunias are a good companion plant to tomatoes since they help deter tomato horn worms and their leaves make a good natural pest spray for veggies. We just happen to have some petunias that were waiting to be planted, and they are now near the tomato plants. Yesterday I went out and one of the baby tomato plants was gone! I think the ants took it. They also took one leaf from another baby. Southern ants are not the passive little creatures like northern ants are. Since we moved to Tennessee, I have lost my fear of spiders and gained a fear of ants!!
(One of the petunias planted near the tomatoes.)
In the pumpkin patch…Well, it got bigger today. Joe had to plow it again because the first time was just a little too early. Originally we were going to have the patch next to the old one, so that was where he plowed. The other day he re-plowed that along with the old patch. It was heavenly to plant in that nice tilled dirt. I have so many varieties of pumpkin and winter squash that even with double the size, I’m not sure where I’ll put them all. Two days ago several hills of butternut squash were planted along with Kubocha squash, Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkins, Black Fusto squash, long of Naples squash, and one hill of Mammoth pumpkins. There is a lot more planting to be done up there. I’ll have to find the time to do another Pumpkin & Winter Squash post to introduce you to all the new varieties. Until I find that time, here is the old post. Some of those same varieties have been planted again this year.
I nearly forgot to mention the sweet potatoes! We have the Beauregard variety once again as they did well the one and only time we grew them, several years ago. (Yes, and we still really like the Confederate general with the same name as well.) The day the plants arrived it was storming and there were tornado warnings. However, they looked so pitiful in the box that I just had to plant them. Frustrated because there were no instructions on planting, only a few sheets with recipes in the box, I figured I had to get them in the ground ASAP. Planting in the mud can be messy! About 20 plants were planted in a little plot set aside just for sweet potatoes. When finished planting, I looked over all the paperwork again and found the instructions. They said don’t worry about them looking bad, they are very strong and will most likely survive. However, if it is windy, wait to plant them. Well, you know in that stormy weather it was mighty windy. For many days I wondered when they would all start dying. They didn’t. There were even two little plants that were practically cut off, I don’t know if some bug ate them or what, but I told the boys to keep watering them anyway. A few days ago, two little leaves came from them! It was so exciting. Perhaps we’ll get some sweet potatoes after all!
I wrote most of this post the other day. There is still room in the pumpkin patch and we now have about 114 hills planted. Tomorrow is Sunday so I won’t be up there, but perhaps we’ll put a few more in this coming week. I’m looking forward to seeing the growth and all the bees buzzing around the flowers when it is time. This year we’re thinking about taking some to the farmers market, if they do OK. Only time will tell. Happy Gardening!