Saturday, February 19, 2011

Garden 2011 is underway!

In expectation of extremes of weather through the spring and a possible (we need RAIN!) slightly cooler than average summer I have made the following vegetable choices:
  • Spring
    • Bloomsdale and Galilee Spinach: Both stand up to the heat better than most varieties.  The idea of bringing in a spinach that grows in the mideast is based on my expectation of a rough spring.  Bloomsdale gets planted now, Galilee in a month.
    • Bright Lights Swiss Chard:  The leaves and colorful stems are tasty and useful in salads or sauteed like spinach.
    • Buttercrunch Lettuce: We really love this lettuce.  Crunchy and sweet.
    • Alfresco Blend Salad Greens:  Most people I know rarely eat salad.  It is EASY to grow and when harvest to plate is immediate the taste is unbelievable!  Amazing amount of food for 2-3 square feet of space.
    • Jericho Romaine Lettuce:  We have missed the taste and texture of Romaine Lettuce.  I understand that this variety's tolerance of weather conditions reaches Biblical proportions! :>)
  • Summer - Seedlings being planted this week.
    • Siletz Tomato: Early season F1 Hybrid tomato which does not require bees or other pollination to set fruit.  This variety is intended to provide a tomato harvest in June before the mid and late season maters are ready.  The plant stands up to cool spring weather very well.
    • Homestead Tomato: My main all-purpose mid-season tomato.  Last summer we averaged 6-10 tomatoes per day from late June to early August with a peak of 29 in one day!  All from 4 plants.  I have a small garden and the 4 ft height works out really well.  
    • Whatever Craig LeHoullier offers:  My limited space forces me to only be able to have a few full-size varieties.  Those of you who have been to Tomatopalooza or followed my pictures and coverage know that Craig's work to preserve the genetic diversity of varieties which span generation is immensely valuable!  Craig is also involved in a global effort to breed new Dwarf Tomato varieties.
    • Partenon Squash: This hybrid is expensive but can both stand up to cooler temperatures (May) and set fruit without pollinators.  My plan to beat the squash bugs is to get seedlings going extra-early and use the 3 strongest plants.  Those of us who do not use pesticides have a terrible time growing squash.  I plan to revert to an open-pollinated type in 2012 if spring and early summer look more moderate.
    • Indian River Winter Pumpkin - Bug resistant vines produce the most awesome pumpkins we have ever tasted!  We were eating RAW pieces last fall.  I saved seeds after determining that they were heirloom.
    • Malabar Spinach:  A completely edible vining plant.  When the Galilee Spinach gives out then this takes over. 
    • Armenian Cucumbers:  I wanted to try something different.  Cucumbers always seem to do well in my garden.  These are related to melons and have a milder taste and thin skin. 
    • Stevia:  I am going to attempt to grow some stevia.  This mint relative imparts a sweet taste to food and beverages.  Bruised leaves can make a "sugar tea" which can be used with fruit punch or lemonade.
  • Others:  Basil, Bush Beans, Nasturtiums (bugs hate this plant.  great addition to salads).  Cayenne, Serrano, and Jalapeno pepper.  GARLIC!!! (Easy to grow!). Maybe a chocolate mint plant or other herbs.
The big theme this year to is overcome a roller-coaster spring and early summer.  If we can experience some decent rainfall this spring then the opportunity exists for a nice summer ...albeit.. with a bad hurricane season.  No west QBO to limit storm growth and keep them out to sea like last year!

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