Saturday, April 16, 2016

What's in my edible garden this year

Lettuce and salad burnet in Earthbox and lettuce planted in the garden
Saturday, April 16, 2016

There are veggies and herbs I keep in my garden year after year and then there are the “experiments”.  I have my standby’s but I love trying new things each year.  New varieties or just new kinds of edibles.  I try new varieties to find the ones that are most prolific for my garden conditions and taste.

The perennials in the garden are your back bone.  They come back year after year with no effort on your part.  They are the first up in the spring and the last to leave in the winter.  If the winters are not harsh, many are harvestable year round.  Midwest Perennial Vegetable Garden

Edible perennials in our garden:
Herbs-lavender, bay laurel, rosemary, thyme, sage, mint, thyme, oregano, salad burnet, common chives, garlic chives, tarragon, horseradish, garlic, Elephant garlic, and leeks.  For more on growing herbs, Start a kitchen herb garden!
Vegetables/Fruits-potato onions, Egyptian walking onions, blue potatoes, French sorrel, blood veined sorrel, chard, cultivated dandelions, 9 Star broccoli, strawberries, apples, figs.  Corn salad and sprouting broccoli usually comes back from their own seed.  There will also be volunteer lettuce and tomatoes that will pop up here and there that I will transplant to where I want them in the garden.  A friend also gave me some Meyer lemon tree seeds that I am trying, too.

I have annual herbs, flowers and vegetables that I grow each year.  Most I have to either start from seed or purchase bedding plants from the store.  There are some that self sow and will come back year after year with no effort on your part.  Self-seeding crops, plant once and forget 'em

Large seeds are started in peat pots with starting soil and small seeds in the Aerogarden on right

Edible annuals I can’t live without that I started this week end:
Herbs-cilantro (Slo Bolt since our springs are short), basil (Cardinal with beautiful maroon flowering head, Blue Spice to add to cleaning supplies, Lettuce Leaf for cooking and pesto), stevia, red onions, and chervil for cooking and adding to body oil.  I have to have parsley in the garden.  It is a self-sower and usually comes back each year, which it did this year so no more are needed.  
Vegetables/Fruits-Goji berry vine, Blue potatoes (started from seed potato), sweet peppers (Tangerine Dream, Baby Bell, Orange banana, Ancient Red, Super Red pimento), hot peppers (orange habanero and one of my uncle’s super hot pepper seed), zucchini (Early Prolific Straightneck, Black Beauty, and Bush), green beans (vine types-Romano, Scarlet Runner, and Bean Blauhilde) and tomatoes (Cherokee Purple, Italian Red Pear an heirloom paste, grape tomato from saved seed, Super Sweet 100, Violet Jasper, Tsunshigo purple Chinese tomato, Black Sea Man, and Red October).  I always keep cayenne and jalapeƱo peppers in the freezer for salsa and cooking.  Right now, I don’t think I need to restock so I’ll wait and see on planting this year.

For greens, I always plant and start a variety of lettuces, spinach and Giant Red mustard.  Lettuce plants purchased: Red Romaine, Buttercrunch, Red Leaf, Paris Island Cos, Coastal Star, Iceberg.  Started from seed Red Crisphead, Magenta Crisphead, Cracoviensis loose leaf, New Red Fire, and Grand Rapids loose leaf.  The Red Crisped and Cracoviensis are new varieties I am trying this year.  Grand Rapids was one my Granny grew in her garden.  If you let your lettuce go to seed, you can save them and never have to buy lettuce seed again.  Never ending salad from one packet of seeds
Flowers interplanted with herbs and edibles
Annual flowers seeds started:
I always add flowers to the garden.  Not only do they look nice, they attract pollinators that increase yields.  Cock’s comb from seed my dad gave me years ago, Hummingbird vine from seed a neighbor gave me years ago, Tangerine Gem marigold (great deer and pest deterrent), sunflowers, Love Lies Bleeding amaranth, Lilliput zinnias, and Moonflower vine.

I started the small seeds in the Aerogarden and the large seeds (zucchini, beans, Moonflower, lemon tree) I started in peat pots on a heating mat.

I decided against broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower this year because the beetle pests were awful last year.  All three of these are in the same family.  Without their preferred food this year, the pests should die off and I’ll plant back in the garden next year.

When my babies sprout, I will put them in the garden where the conditions are best for them.  I plant the crops that like cool weather on the north side and where there is more shade to extend the season.  The heat lovers I plant where they get the most sun and won’t be shaded by others as they grow. 

I like to interplant flowers and crops.  This keeps the pests down by not planting one type of crop all together.  The flowers attract pollinators and can even repel pests. Get the most from your space-plant intensively!  Place this year’s crops in a different spot than they were last year.  Practicing crop rotation does two things.  Each type of plant uses different minerals and nutrients from the soil.  Smart rotation will keep your soil from getting depleted of what your crops need.  Rotation also keeps the pests down.  Crop rotation made easy for small gardens

For more on preparing your soil for plant (and crop) nutrition, check out this blog.  The next step in garden production and your nutrition-soil minerals

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