(My seed collection, which I keep in my Grandma’s old sewing box)
As with many things these days, I’ve been dragging my feet on prepping the garden this season. With the garden work party coming up this weekend, I need to get my act together and formulate a game-plan. I’ve got a handful of tomatoes and peppers started but no herbs or flowers at all. Last year they were all started around this time and showing 2nd and 3rd true leaves. Fortunately, the bulk of my crops this year can and should be direct seeded. I’ve got more beans and peas, lettuces, greens and cucurbits than I know where to put.
Regarding legumes in the garden this year, I find that growing things like garden peas is tricky for our small space. They don’t always produce enough to make it feel worth the trouble so instead of growing them for the pod, I will grow them for their tender stems and leafstalks (a.k.a. ‘shoots’) this time around. They saute really nicely and have a wonderful bright green flavor, vaguely reminiscent of their round, green seeds. I’ll broadcast them over a measured out portion of our beds and let ’em grow to about 8-inches in length before harvesting. This is the sort of thing that you can plant in succession. I’ll likely turn the stumps and roots in to help continue to fix nitrogen in the soil and give the microbes and organisms something to munch on.
I’m opting to forgo pole beans this season (which I find take up too much space and block light from the crops around them when trellised) and will be growing mostly bush varieties instead. Romano Gold, Jacob’s Cattle, Greasy Grits, Renegade, Nickel. These little squirts are gonna ensure a nice little bumper crop of tender beans for me to blanch and freeze and pickle. I’ll be liberally planting these in between nitrogen hungry crops like Brassicas and Solanaceous plants. These will be turned in as well after they stop producing. If anyone in the area wants to trade for some pole varieties I have Kentucky Wonder, Violet Podded Stringless and Malibu. I could always use more Kale or Chard seed so if you’ve got more than you need, hook a sister up!
Lettuces, Kale, Chard and Spinach will get direct seeded liberally and thinned out as they grow. I’ll make use of the thinnings in salads and soups. Radishes get tossed in anywhere they can fit. I’ll sow radish seeds in smaller amounts once every 10 days or so. Carrots are getting sown this weekend too. My hope is to have a bunch of chopped, blanched carrots, spinach and kale in the fridge to use whenever I make soups, which I do often in the fall.
Micro-lettuce beds will also be placed on the new chicken coop along with some cucumber and patty pan squash. They will get lots of sun, warmth and air flow so hopefully this year we won’t lose any of them to wilts and mildews! fingers crossed
Katrina bought new trash cans for the house so we are going to scrub the old ones out thoroughly and get some potatoes started in them. Our little crop of potatoes last year were really nice and it was a great way to use the cement portion of our backyard to do some growing. We’ll probably be naughty and buy seed potatoes from the farmers market again, but I encourage people to buy guaranteed healthy seed potatoes from your favorite organic seed catalog. You don’t want to get sullied seed and spread diseases around, you know?
Anyway, I’m mostly just working through all of this stuff as a type. I figure some of my ramblings today might be useful to a few new city gardeners out there. If anyone has any questions about growing garden crops in small places, post a comment and I’d be glad to give some insight! Look for a post soon about the garden overhaul with before and after pictures!