Sunday, April 30, 2023

May 2023 Edible Garden Planner

Early May edible garden
Sunday, April 30, 2023

May Day is when the old timers say is the best time to plant your summer garden in the Midwest.  Prior to May 1, there is still a good chance of poor weather, chilly temps, and even a late frost in our Zone 7 garden.  This can be catastrophic for tomatoes, eggplants, basil and other heat lovers.  This year we had 34 degree low earlier in the week with the weather forecast calling for temp's in normal range the 70's later this coming week.

At least today, we have the added advantage of the 15 day forecast!  Check out your 15 day forecast to know if it looks safe to plant those tender summer veggies as it is possible to have chilly temps even into May.  If direct planting summer vegetable seeds, chilly and rainy conditions can cause the seeds to rot.  Warm, moist conditions are the best for seed success!

I started the summer lovers from seeds this year in outdoor pots a couple of weeks ago.  About half are up so far.  We've had a chilly couple of weeks.  Since it is supposed to be in the 70's later this week, the stragglers should sprout.  For those that don't, I'll re-sow.  

If you started yours indoors and have already transplanted outdoors, what do you do if they are forecasting frost?  Give them a jacket!  You can cover your frost sensitive plants with a row cover or light sheet.  You just want to be sure that the cover is not too heavy and crushes your plants.  Remove after the frost is melted.  If you plant in pots, you can move your pots into the garage for the night.  For more on protection for plants, see Starting the garden earlier, outwitting Jack Frost... 
Row cover
Spring has had days above and days below average temperatures and above average rainfall so the cool season garden is growing nicely.  The greens that love the cool weather are doing great!  You just don't want to plant the summer lovers too early as they don't like being cold and don't grow much until the soil warms.  Earlier is not always better.  If you have already planted, no worries as long as you protect them if Jack Frost comes calling.  They just won't grow fast until the weather warms.

May is the time to get the summer lovers growing.  All about the summer edible garden  For the plants to get going in May: What to plant in the May edible garden  If sowing your summer veggie seeds outdoors, see Outdoor seed starting tips 

The cold crops are at their peak at the beginning of the month with many bolting and going to seed by month's end like spinach, cilantro, lettuce, chard, kale, sprouting broccoli, and onions.  To preserve greens while they are still at their peak is quick and easy.  Freezing the extras for winter  The only green that is not frozen?  Lettuce.  I keep lettuce going in the garden by planting new seed every 3 weeks.

Lettuce, spinach and cilantro all go to bolting as soon as the temps hit the 80's in our garden.  You can let them go to seed and either save the seed to plant or let the seed fall where it may to give you new lettuce, spinach and cilantro plants.  An added bonus to letting these plants go to seed is that the bees love their small flowers.  Seed saving-fun, easy and a cost saver
Mid May garden
So, what are we planting this year?  Of course, we will plant the number one veggie in the USA-tomatoes!   This year, I am growing them all from seed.  You could also just buy plants as there is a great selection of heirlooms at local nurseries, hardware stores and big box stores these days.  I am in a smaller garden again this year, so I am trying to limit the number and type I am growing this year to a purple slicer (Cherokee Purple), red paste tomato (Italian Red Pear and Martino's Roma), chocolate cherry types for salads (Chocolate Pear and Indigo Pear Drops), and a storage tomato (Evil Olive).  Choosing which tomatoes to grow   Loving the purple tomatoes with all their fantastic antioxidants!  Different colors in tomatoes give different nutrition

I will spray the seedlings with an organic fungicide before planting to give them some protection.  We have such hot, humid conditions that fungus grows well here!  I looked at the chemical fungicides but they contain cancer causing chemicals so I'll stick with the ones approved for organic growing.  Tomatoes 101, everything you need to know to grow great tomatoes  

If you have limited space, look for the dwarf/bush types like Bush Early Girl (only 54 days till ripe tomatoes), Patio Princess, Husky Red, Lizzano, Little Napoli, Front Runner, Tumbling Tom among many others. Typically, you can expect to have your first ripe tomatoes around the 4th of July.  The earliest tomato bearing variety I have grown is Yellow Tumbling Tom that gave me tomatoes in June.  They grow great in the garden or pots.  Since they are smaller plants, their yields will be less than the big plants in the ground.  Compact tomato plants for small spaces  Nowadays, you can purchase full grown plants to get instant fresh tomatoes at this time of year.

I will be growing vining snap beans (Blauhilde for disease resistance and production), 1500 year old shell beans, winged beans and lima beans this year.  I do have several quarts still in the freezer so will plant just a few vines.  Now is a great time to get them planted.  Legumes-peas for spring, beans for summer  

For peppers, I am growing one sweet peppers for fresh snacking, an Ancho/Pablano for drying to make into chili powder, a cayenne plant that I overwintered indoors, and a new hot pepper Tunisian Baklouti.  I am growing more hot peppers than usual to make more hot sauce.  Homemade hot sauce wings with homegrown celery  Quick, homemade salsa  Preserving peppers

I overwintered an ancient hot pepper in the basement called Chiltepin.  It is thought to be the ancestor of all hot peppers.  This is its seventh winter and it did great.  It produces very small, very hot round red peppers.  I dry them and use them in my grilling spice mix.  Using herbs, flowers and fruit for flavored sugars and salts

 This year I am again going to plant all my peppers in pots.  It just seems that my peppers do better in a pot than in the ground for the smaller peppers.  I like the smaller peppers because the plants produce more than larger pepper plants.  Bell peppers seemed to produce more in ground when I have grown them in the past.  I will refresh the potting soil and fertilize the seedlings I started when I transplant to their outdoor pot.  Re-energize your potting soil!   Peppers are for every taste and garden
I am growing a few eggplants that have stayed sweet in our garden.  Our summers get so hot here that eggplant skins can get tough and the fruits bitter so I always look for the varieties that are good for our temps.  My choices this year are Rotanda Bianca, Amadeo, AO Daimaru, and White.  Eggplant-add this native from India to your garden

White eggplant fruit
I am growing just vining summer squash, Trombetta.   I like this squash for several reasons.  They were not affected by the squash vine borer or squash bugs, they had almost no powdery mildew, and you can eat when the fruits are young as you would zucchini or let them stay on the vine and the skins will toughen to use as winter squash.  Growing zucchini and summer squash  One plant produces as much as a typical family needs during the summer.  This type has vines up to 20 feet long so I just let it grow on the ground.

I found some great ways to use and preserve zucchini that any extra will be stored for many new ways of using.  What to do with all that zucchini?!  I really liked spiralizing zucchini into "zoodles" and using in place of spaghetti.  I'll spiralize and put into freezer bags so I have a low carb, nutritious option anytime for spaghetti.

I am also trying a disease resistant type of spaghetti squash-Warsaw spaghetti, and a winter squash that is supposed to be a decent substitute for potatoes called Mashed Potato.

I am going back to Burgundy okra this year.  I've tried a few different varieties but this one seems to do the best in my garden.  Growing and harvesting okra

  I've got cucumber, spinach, and lettuce seedlings this year for salads and to make green smoothies.  Grow your own juice garden   I will grow the cucumber onto a trellis as well.  I am planting a bush variety, Bush Slicer, in a pot.  Cucumber info and tips for growing  I have plenty of volunteer celery and mustard in the garden so no planting needed for them.  I am trying to grow a pink celery for a fun pop of color along with Rose and Purple orach and Pink Beauty amaranth which are great for summer salad leaves.  Orach and amaranth leaves stay sweet all summer.

Lettuce varieties that are in my spring garden are Red and Green Roma, Iceberg, Buttercrunch, Giant Blue Feather, Yedikule, Grand Rapids, Royal Oak, Forellenschluss, Bronze Beauty, Butter King, and Flare.  I am always trying new varieties to see which are the best at staying sweet in our summer heat and also re-sowing themselves.

Lettuce and spinach aren't the only greens you can use for salads, see more at  Growing summer salads

For summer salads, I overwintered Red Malabar spinach, have seedlings of Perpetual Spinach and Verde de Taglio chard, have 3 different colors of Chinese cabbage (Hilton, Golden Beauty and Scarlette) for salads and wraps, Komatsuna Tendergreen and Giant Leaf mustard for sweet summer salad leaves.  I always grow Radish Dragon's Tail for salads, too.  They're just fun and add a pop of not too strong radish flavor.

For the next round of lettuce sowings, I'll go with the more heat resistant varieties like Jericho Romaine which has been tested to last 3 months before bolting as well as Red Sails loose leaf lettuce which stays sweet after bolting.   Want continuous harvests? Succession planting!   Look for varieties that have heat tolerant in the descriptor.  Here are some varieties that are proven to do well in the summer   Bolt-free, sweet summer lettuces
Spring potted lettuce
For herbs, I have a bay tree and moringa tree that overwintered in the basement. I have sown seeds for Genovese basil, Cardinal basil, Giant Italian parsley, dill, chives, cilantro, rosemary and a pretty sage Rose Rhapsody.  Many of my herbs are perennials and are going strong in the garden right now-tarragon, garlic chives, onions, oregano, thyme, fennel, mint, and garlic.  For more on herbs, see  Start a kitchen herb garden!

As I transplant my seedlings, I like to powder the roots of each plant with plant starter as well as dig in some fertilizer in each hole.  Plant starter has mycorrhizal microbes which fixes nitrogen to the roots of the plant, helping it to grow sturdier, bigger and faster.  Once you have the microbes in the soil, they should stay year after year, but adding each year can't hurt anything!

I add Azomite around each of my transplants under the mulch every other year.  Since I added it last year, I will skip this year.  Azomite contains many minerals which can result in significantly improved growth for your plants and more minerals in your harvested plants for a healthier you.  A win-win for your garden and your family.  

During the growing season, you should fertilize monthly.  Only add what a soil test said your garden needed when it comes to phosphorous and potassium.  You can get too much of both in the garden.  My soil test said I needed to lower the pH of the soil, add nitrogen and potassium.  I didn't need any phosphorous.  The next step in garden production and your nutrition-soil minerals

Before you send your new transplants into the garden, insure they have been sufficiently "hardened off."  If you started your own seeds indoors, take your plants out daily over a week or so into a partially shady spot, letting them get used to the strong sun and wind.  I put mine out on the deck to get used to the sun and wind for several days before planting out.  "Hardening off" seedlings

If you purchased your transplants and they were already outdoors, they are ready to be plopped into the ground or pot and grow!

I always interplant my garden with flowers.  This year, I am using petunias, red flowering Hummingbird Vine, Blue morning glory flowering vine, cock's comb, Pride of Madeira, Love Lies Bleeding and dwarf Cocks Comb for annuals.  For perennials, there are pink Fairy lilies, white flowering jasmine vine,  hollyhocks in a variety of colors-Summer Carnival, Red and Peach, purple coneflower, lilies, day-lilies, irises, and gladiolas.

May is an exciting time in the garden.  Every day you go out, you can see things growing.  The spring vegetables are in their prime, the summer veggies are just starting, and there are so many herbs ready for seasoning your favorite salads or dishes.  Just be sure to keep ahead of the weeds and provide even watering.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Late spring edible garden

Late spring lettuce
Saturday, April 20, 2023

The late spring edible garden means lots of crunchy salads, flowers blooming, and summer veggie seeds sprouting.  I just love spring greens and flowers!

Most people think of the heat lovers when it comes to an edible garden.  Spring is the time for crops that love it on the cool side.  Cool season crops are in their prime in spring.

Spring is high time for juicy, sweet salads, peas and root crops.  Most greens are sweet in cool temperatures.  When the 80's hit, it is their cue to put up a flower stalk and produce seeds (called bolting).  When this happens, the leaves of most greens become bitter.  There are a few exceptions that you can learn more about here.  Growing summer salads  Bolt-free, sweet summer lettuces  
Sweet mustard for salads
Right now, I am harvesting spinach, lettuce, pea shoots, overwintering onions, chives, sweet mustard leaves, and overwintering celery from their pots.  The heat tolerant Galilee spinach is already going to seed, but the Bonnie spinach is doing nicely.  Many of the February and March planted lettuce seeds are up and about 2" tall.  The sweet mustard varieties are 4" tall.  I always purchase lettuce transplants as soon as they come into the stores.  These transplants are 8" tall and supplying as much salad as we can eat.

The flowers blooming now are the late daffodils, lilacs, peonies and irises in my garden.  All are beautiful.
Iris blooming in the edible garden
I sowed seeds of the summer lovers over the past 3 weeks.  I have sprouts up for beans, tomatoes, basil, dill and amaranth.  The ones not up yet are the squash, cucumber, eggplant, peppers and okra.

I started the big seeds of cucumber, squash, and beans in the pot they will grow in all summer.  Since peppers and eggplant both grow very well in pots, I also sowed them in their medium sized pots.  The tomatoes and okra perform best in the ground for me so I started them in short rectangular pots and will transplant them into the garden after they are up and sturdy.  I did the same with basil that I interplant with the tomatoes in the garden bed.

Before you get started planting, it is important to renew the garden and potting soil each spring.  Healthy and vibrant soil gives plants what they need to be healthy and vibrant food for the family and friends.  Each spring, I like to add an organic fertilizer, minerals, a layer of compost and top with mulch.  I like to have this done in mid-March, ready for planting at the end of March.  Adding mulch too soon in the season can keep the soil temperatures down.  I time adding mulch when temperatures are on the upswing so the fresh mulch helps warm the soil. 

For potting soil, I remove at least the top half from the pot and mix the potting soil with compost at about a 50/50 mix and then mix in fertilizer and minerals like Azomite at the rate recommended.  Re-energize your potting soil!  I use Espoma's fertilizers as it is for organic gardening and available in my rural area.  You can also make your own to save money and it works just as well.  Make your own all natural, complete fertilizer

Here is a listing of spring crops with links to more on growing them.

Cool season fruits and vegetables
Broccoli and Cauliflower  How to grow broccoli and cauliflower
Brussel Sprouts Growing Brussel sprouts
Other Greens (Arugula, Asian, Mustard, Chicories, Cultivated Dandelions) 

Cool season herbs

Spring is also the time to plant perennials.  Many herbs are perennials like rosemary, thyme, sage, tarragon, chives, oregano.  Start a kitchen herb garden!    
Late garden
Garlic, fava beans, winter peas, carrots, leeks and onions may have overwintered if you planted them in the fall.  Peas, radishes, leafy greens can be planted in early spring.  Followed shortly by carrots, beets and potatoes.

As you are laying out your garden, be sure to not plant from the same family in the same spot.  Crop rotation will help keep down pests and different types of crops need different nutrients.  Moving them around the garden helps to keep spots from getting depleted in nutrients.  It helps to either take pictures or capture in your garden log book the layout for each season so you don't forget what you planted where.  Crop rotation made easy for small gardens

I like planting snow peas because you can eat the whole pod.  Pea leaves and flowers are tasty in salads, too.  Spring is when you get the best salads of the year!  Lettuces are sweet and crunchy.  There are chives, redbud blossoms, chickweed, purslane, sorrel, leek, new onions and many other springtime goodies to add to your salads, or smoothies.  Later in spring, you can add radishes, carrots, arugula and garlic scapes.  Time to plant peas!

Chickweed and purslane are both chock full of nutrition but are on the invasive side.  They will completely overrun a pot.  A good option is to give each a pot of their own and be vigorous in pulling any volunteers that appear in other pots.  Edible, nutritious "weeds"

In the cool days of spring, dandelions have a mild taste and are great salad greens.  As temperatures rise, harvest the new leaves for salads and the mature leaves can be used for wilted greens.  Grow Cultivated Dandelions      7 Ways Dandelion Tea Can Be Good for Your Health

I love adding chives and green onions to spring salads.  Everything in the allium (onion/garlic) family is tasty and healthy.  You can use common chives or garlic chives; both are perennial herbs that come back year after year.  Chives also have beautiful flowers that are edible.  Common chives have pretty lavender flowers while garlic chives have white flowers.  I have both in my garden.  Add chives to your garden

My favorite onion is the Egyptian walking onion because it does so well in my garden, it is a perennial and it propagates continuously through division and it's cool bulbets that form on the tips of its stems in summer.  I use the bottoms for a cooking onion and the tops as you would chives.  Egyptian walking onions

Arugula is a green that gets spicier as it warms up outside.  It has a peppery flavor to my tastebuds.  I grow rocket arugula because it is a perennial so comes back year after year.  It grows wild in the Italian countryside.  I just snip off what I want to add to each salad.  

Another perennial green is Alba and Fordhook chard.  They are two of the hardiest chards.  Most of the pretty colored chards likely will not make it through our Midwest winters.  There is one variety, Magenta Magic, that does show good hardiness.  For year round steamed greens, grow chard!

Sprouting broccoli is another green that can survive winters.  Sprouting broccoli- a year round fav  The leaves taste just like broccoli year round and the florets are a nice bonus in the early summer.  The wonderful thing about perennial greens is that they are the first ones up in the spring so you get super early, fresh from the garden salads before anyone else!  There are quite a few to choose from.  Want a vegetable and fruit garden that you only have to plant once? Try perennials!

Other spring greens include Asian flat cabbages like tat-soi and mustard greens.  I think lace leaf red and yellow mustards are very pretty and a great add to any salad.  Giant Red mustard is a great self-seeding variety that grows very large, maroon colored leaves.  You can harvest when they are small for salads or large for wilted greens.  

Lettuce and spinach are a mainstay of my garden.  I try and get as many months of fresh salads as I can.  In the late winter, I start planting lettuce and spinach seeds and plants.  In late spring, I resow heat tolerant varieties.  I sow the seed and cover lightly with soil.  In early fall, I sow cold hardy varieties.  Standby lettuce varieties are Simpson Elite, Red Romaine, Red Sails, and Oakleaf.  I begin to harvest when there are 6-8 leaves on the plant.  I take the outer leaves so the plant will continue to put on more leaves, extending the harvest for months.  I grow a row of spinach and a couple of rows of lettuce.  If you are growing spinach for cooking, you'll need many plants; as much as will cover a 4' by 6' area.  I grow only for fresh use.  I use fast growers like chard, dandelion and kale for cooked/steamed greens.  Grow spinach-a super nutritious, easy green    Everything you need to know about growing lettuce

If you are a fan of stronger and sturdier greens, there are also the chicories, endives, escaroles and radicchios. There are a variety of colors and textures to choose from.  They are grown as you would lettuce.  Chicories and radicchios are perennials so as long as you harvest the outer leaves, you'll have the plants year after year.  

A spring garden would not be complete without radishes.  They grow super fast.  I like the flavor of the white radishes.  For radishes, sow 1/2" deep in loose soil.  Many recommend sowing with carrots as the radishes will be harvested before the carrots start developing their root and both like the same soil.  If you are more of a turnip or beet fan, you can plant turnips or beets in with the radishes.  I usually grow a short row of radishes, beets and turnips combined.  I let me carrots go to seed and now I have volunteer carrots all over the garden.   Easy to grow crispy, peppery radishes  Grow crunchy, colorful carrots practically year round  All about beautiful beets  All about turnips

For artichoke lovers, spring is the season to put out your artichoke plants.  Artichokes are perennials and may not bud in the first season.  Be sure you get plants rated for your zone.  Violetta is a variety that is hardy up to Zone 6.  Plant after danger of frost, but early enough that it will still receive 10-12 days of temperatures under 50 degrees F.  It has to have this level of cold to induce budding.  

I like growing purple, blue and rose potatoes because they are unusual and you don't see them in the store that often.  They should be planted 4-6 weeks before your last frost.  That is mid-March for our area.  We like growing them in potato boxes my husband made.  We plant the tubers at the bottom of the box and just add soil as the leaves and stems grow.  Time to plant potatoes, even if you only have a patio

You can transplant any fruit trees or shrubs in the spring.  This is the season for strawberries.  Give them room to run.  Strawberries can fruit at different times so you can pick a variety to get an extended harvest.  I like Alpine strawberries.  They are small, but give many fruits over a long period of time and are very sweet.  Fruit for small spaces 

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Veggies for beginners

Sunday, April 16, 2023
So you're thinking of trying to grow some veggies and want to which ones are easy to grow.  What would those be?  Here are some easy crops to grow.  All can be grown in pots or the garden.  Start small.  Chose a couple to try this year.

 If this is your first go at it, I would recommend you get transplants this time.  There are many different varieties available these days from the big box stores and your local nurseries.  This way, you can just concentrate on the growing and harvesting.  If determine to start using seeds, follow the seed packet instructions and see the tips here.  Seed starting tips for beginners

Beets-this veggie is easy to start and grow.  Just plant seeds in a sunny location and let them grow.  They have no pests in my garden and can handle dips in temperatures.  You can eat the greens and the beet.  I like the Chioggia heirloom.  All about beautiful beets

Carrots-this veggie is easy to start and grow.  Sow the seeds in either a deep container or in loose soil.  Carrots are cold hardy.  If not pulled, they will bolt into flowers that look like Queen's Ann Lace, which are in the same family.  If left to flower, they are a prolific self-seeder.  Danvers Half Long are a solid performer and don't grow as long as the store carrots so they are not as picky on depth of pot or that the soil isn't fluffy in the garden bed down 18".  Just plant seeds in a sunny location and let them grow.  They have no pests in my garden and can handle dips in temperatures.  Grow crunchy, colorful carrots practically year round

Cucumbers-this veggie can be either a vine or bush.  If space constrained, grow the bush variety or the vine up a trellis.  Can be grown in a pot or garden.  I have done both.  I prefer growing my cucumbers in the garden.  You can start the seeds indoors or plant directly in their growing spot after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm.  You can also get them as transplants.  Keep them picked to keep the fruits coming.  Bush Champion is a good choice for the pot or garden.  How to grow cucumbers-in pots or in the garden

Eggplant-I always grow my eggplants in a pot.  They are from the tropics so they enjoy the warmer soil of pots.  You can start indoors or buy transplants.  I have not had the greatest luck in seed starting.  I'd recommend buying a transplant.  Since they love warmth, plant outdoors after all danger of frost is passed.  Rosa Bianca is a nice variety.  I like any white eggplant as well.  These varieties stay sweet even in the most oppressive heat.  Harvest when the fruits are shiny.  If they become dull, they are over ripe.  Still edible, but the skin may be tougher than younger fruits.  The only pest issue I have with eggplants are flea beetles.  They love to eat the leaves!  You can ignore them or use insecticidal soap.  Be sure to spray only in the evening after all the beneficials are done visiting the flowers.  Eggplant-add this native from India to your garden

Lettuce-They are easy to grow from seed or there are lots of varieties available as transplants.  I grow this veggie year round in pots.  I also grow in the spring in the garden bed.  Lettuce prefers cool weather.  They will send up a flower stalk (bolt) when daytime temperatures hit the 80's.  They like lots of nitrogen.  I like for slow to bolt or heat hardy varieties in the spring and cold hardy varieties for the fall.  About the only pest of lettuce are slugs.  You can use beer in a cup placed level with the ground or slug bait.  To keep lettuce sweet as long as possible, keep the soil moist and when it starts heating up, moving them into shade will extend the harvest.  Let them go to seed and re-sow the seeds to keep the harvest going for free.  A couple of good heat resistant varieties are Black Seeded Simpson and Red Sails.  Red Sails is still sweet as it bolts.  Everything you need to know about growing lettuce

Peas-I plant peas first thing in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked.  You can also buy as transplants.  I like to plant them in pots that I will add pepper or eggplant to the pot later.  Peas love the cold and cool weather.  I prefer to grow snow peas with its edible pods.  The tips and flowers are a tasty addition to salads in the spring.  Peas have had no insects pressure in my garden.  Sugar Ann bush is a nice choice.  If growing the longer vine types, use a trellis to keep them in control and to make it easier to harvest.   Time to plant peas!

Peppers-I grow this veggie in pots. They also grow just fine in the garden.  Peppers are easy to grow from seed.  You can also buy transplants.  Both do well.  For a sweet pepper, I prefer growing snacking size peppers instead of the typical bell peppers.  They will give you lots more peppers.  Sweet Banana pepper produces very well.  If you like spicy peppers, jalapeƱos and cayenne plants are easy to grow and produce very well.  Keep the fruits harvested to keep production going.  I bring my cayenne in every winter and it does fine in the basement.  It's back outside now and has baby peppers on it!  Peppers are for every taste and garden

Radish-I grow this veggie in pot  I start the seeds directly in the pot; they don't like to be transplanted.  I have not had any pest issues with radishes.  They enjoy cool temperatures so start in early spring.  The warmer the temperatures get, the hotter the radish gets!  If you like a little heat, try the heirloom Early French Breakfast.  I prefer the mild White Icicle variety.  Easy to grow crispy, peppery radishes

Snap beans-can be grown in pots or the garden.  The plants are either bush or vining types.  I prefer to grow the vining types, pole beans.  Pole beans produce all summer.  If you are growing a vining type, provide them a trellis.  Most vines grow 8-10 feet long unless you pinch off the end when they get the length you desire.  An easy heirloom to grow is Kentucky Wonder.  I have caterpillars eat on some of the beans.  Growing beans

Spinach-I usually grow this veggie in pot.  I have also grown in the garden with good success as well.    I start the seeds directly in the soil as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring or buy transplants.  They enjoy cool weather and go to seed as soon as temperatures get consistently in the 70's.  If you don't harvest them all, collect the seeds after they flower to sow spinach in the fall.  Like all greens, they need fertile soil.  Teton is a heat tolerant variety that will extend your harvest.  Grow spinach-a super nutritious, easy green

Summer squash-I usually grow this veggie in the garden but you can grow the bush types in a pot.  Summer squash gives you a long harvest.  You can use transplants or sow the seeds directly in the ground after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed.  Saffron bush is an easy to grow variety.  Squash is susceptible to powdery mildew.  You can treat with a fungicide when it starts getting humid to prevent it.  You can use copper fungicide as an organic option.  Growing zucchini and summer squash

Swiss chard-I grow this veggie in the garden and in a pot.  Like all greens, they need fertile soil.  Chard is very cold hardy and a short lived perennial.  You can buy transplants or start from seed.  Start in early spring.  Chard can get bitter in the heat of summer but will get sweet again with the cool temperatures of fall.  You can use chard in salads when it's sweet and as steamed greens when not so sweet.  The only pest I have had with chard are slugs.  For year round steamed greens, grow chard!

Tomatoes-Nowadays there is a good variety that you can buy as transplants or they start easily from seed.  I usually grow this veggie in the garden but you can grow the dwarf types in a pot.  I usually grow one dwarf in a pot each season.  The dwarf varieties usually produce early, but since they are small plants, they don't produce a lot of fruits.  Tomatoes can have blight problems and the hornworm loves to eat the leaves and fruits.  If you see spots on your plants, pull the leaves off and put in the trash.  I pick off the hornworms.  For small tomatoes, Super Sweet 100 is a prolific producer.  For a slicer, the heirloom Cherokee Purple does great in my garden.  For paste, try San Remo.  Tomatoes 101, everything you need to know to grow great tomatoes

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Quick update-summer seeds planted so far

Seed starting pot
Saturday, April 15, 2023

I have been busy sowing seeds outdoors this season.  I usually do the indoor seed starting routine for most of my edibles but decided to do direct sowing into pots this year to see how this approach goes.  I miss seeing my seedlings every time I walk by inside, but it is fun to go outside every morning and evening to see if I have any little green shoots poking through the ground.

I waited until after our last frost date (April 2) and that the extended forecast didn't show any chance of getting down into the 30's for the next 14 days. I have planted all my spring edibles outdoors through the month of February. 

April in our zone is the time you can start your summer loving edibles.  I waited until after our last frost date (April 2) and that the extended forecast didn't show any chance of getting down into the 30's for the next 14 days.  I started all my seeds in pots except for my squash seeds.  I decided to use our potato boxes for them this year.  I'm going to be so busy that I am going to skip potatoes this year.

 Beans-Planted snap bean, shell beans and winged beans in large pots with a trellis for each.  They all did fine last year in large pots.  Snap bean are Blauhilde which is disease resistant, winged bean is Japanese Urizun that has a beautiful blue flower, shell beans are 1500 Year Old and Christmas Speckles lima bean. 

Cucumber-only planted 1 in a large pot-Bush Champion.  Bush Champion gives me just what I want to eat and can into pickles and pickle relish.

Eggplant-Planted these in medium size pots.  I have tried many varieties to find those that don't get bitter in our hot summers.  This year, I planted Rotanda Bianca, Amadeo, White and AO Daimaru.  They've all done well in years past.  4 is probably more than we need, but gives me an extra if not all germinate.

Herbs-Planted these in long, shallow pots that I use just to start seedlings.  After they sprout, I will move to their spot in the garden bed.  I like starting them in a pot to keep an eye on them.  I started Giant Italian parsley, Cardinal basil, Genovese basil, Chinese Pink celery, Grandma Einck's dill, Dukat, dill, Bouquet dill, Dwarf Lemon cilantro, rosemary, and Rose Rhapsody salvia. 

Lettuce-Planted these in long, shallow pots that I use just to start seedlings and some in their final pots.  As the lettuce that is overwintering bolts (they have already started), I will put the new ones in to replace them.  I try to start lettuce about every three weeks to keep a steady supply for salads.  
Peppers-Planted these medium pots.  Peppers just seem to do best in pots.  I like to grow the smaller fruiting ones as they seem to produce more and I can snack on a couple every day.  I have 2 that overwintered in the basement, a cayenne and a Chiptelin pepper plant.  I have them back outside.  The cayenne is flowering and has baby peppers on it already.  I planted seeds for a sweet chocolate pepper from saved seed, Tunisian Baklouti medium heat pepper, and a few Ancho Poblano pepper plants to make chili powder from.

Pollinator garden-Planted Takane Ruby buckwheat in my pollinator long shallow seed starting pot.  It is pretty and bees are supposed to love it.  I will transplant out into my pollinator garden after the seedlings are nice and sturdy. 

Tomatoes-Planted these in long, shallow pots that I use just to start seedlings.  After they sprout, I will move to their spot in the garden bed.  I like starting them in a pot to keep an eye on them.  I usually plant a couple extra seeds for each.  I can easily separate them before I put them in their final spot.  The varieties I planted are Indigo Pear Drops, Chocolate Pear and Cherokee Purple because they always do well in my garden, Red Pear large paste tomato because they make the silkiest sauces, Evil Olive and A Grappali D'Inverno to try out a couple of storage tomatoes in my root cellar, Wood's Famous Brimmer because it is supposed to be prolific and tasty and Martino's Roma because it is supposed to be a prolific paste tomato.  

Squash-Planted these in the potato boxes my hubby made for me.  I had volunteers that I think hitched a ride in our mulch last year that did great in the potato boxes.  I planted seed for Trombetta a very large rambler that can either be used as zucchini or a winter squash.  It had only a tiny bit of powdery mildew and no squash bug problems in my garden the last two years so it is a mainstay.  I am trying Warsaw spaghetti squash because of its disease resistance and Mashed Potato squash to see if it really tastes like mashed potatoes. 

Summer greens-I have seedlings already going for summer greens like orach, sweet mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage that can be started in February.  I just planted Pink Beauty amaranth because it doesn't do well until after frosty nights are over.  I planted these seeds in long, shallow pots that I use just to start seedlings.  I'll transplant once they are up and going strong.

The only summer edible I have left to start is okra.  I'm going to grow Burgundy okra.  It is pretty and has done great in my garden.  I'll likely start it this week end.  

      Happy gardening!