Saturday, January 14, 2012

What to Grow? Seed Inventory and 2011 Review

What to grow? What to grow?  Time to think about the vegetable garden of 2012!  I love browsing the seed catalogs and figuring out what seeds to buy – but my eyes are bigger than my stomach. (Or, rather, my seed purchases are always too prolific for the space I have!)

It’s so hard to narrow it down, but recently I heard some good advice: “Grow what your family eats.”    I had to think about that because even though I enjoy growing and eating exotic colored radishes and garnishing crudite plates with them, they are probably something that my kids would pick out of a salad.  They love tomato and basil, though, and just about any kind of potato.  They’ll eat sugar snaps, cucumbers, lettuce, sweet peppers, spinach and chard.   Potatoes will be my new experiment this year – maybe sweet potatoes too!

The space I have for starting seeds is very limited, so I’ll probably buy tomato seedlings this year.   I’m setting up a small indoor growing station in my closet, though.

Blauschokker Flower
How could I have neglected to plant peas last spring?   The lapse prompted me to purchase some late in the season and plant them in August.  We (well, mostly Betsy) got a few handfuls of “Sugar Snaps” and “Sugar Ann” in October.  The flowers for “Blauschokker Alauws Blue” were stunning.


Dill Flower

The small-leafed mounding Italian basil did well for me this year.  It didn’t flower or wilt as quickly as the Genovese, and it looked nice in the front of my community plot.   I don’t remember where I got a bunch of generous and inexpensive packets of Pagano seeds, but it was probably at the grocery store.  I’ve had good results with all the herbs I’ve grown from this Italian company.  I also saved lots of dill seeds from the plants that volunteered.

Probably my best crop.  I made 12 pints of pickles.  The Japanese Long produced well for the second year.  So did the slicing cucumbers that Meems from Gardening in the Boroughs of NYC sent.   Didn’t get any lemons but I have enough to try again.

The 2011 Squash Vine Massacre
I’m getting rid of my pumpkin and gourd seeds.  They just take up too much space.  If you follow this blog, you may have witnessed the Great Squash Vine Massacre of 2011.  Lesson learned.  I’ll grow bush or compact vines from now on.  I saved “Bush Delicata,” not knowing that it was a hybrid.  Curious to know what turns up.   I’ll get an heirloom zucchini and yellow squash this year.

My big mistake this year was not labeling my tomatoes.   One standout was a fuzzy hybrid called "Alberta Peach."   I grew too many cherries and not enough slicers.  This year at a book fair, the publisher gave out tomato seeds to promote the book Urban Farming by Thomas Fox.   I love this promotion idea!  But not the fact that the variety of tomato is nowhere to be found on the package!   On my wish list this year for tomatoes are Yellow Pear, Sungold, Sweet 100, San Marzano, Brandywine and Mortgage Lifter.   I’m done with the purple and brown varieties for awhile.


Watermelon Radish

I had my best results ever this year with watermelon (aka red meat) and daikon radish. I’ll use up these seeds and also try some podded radishes.

I have “Tuscan Lacinato” kale, “Bright Lights” swiss chard, a “Salad Bowl Blend” from Botanical Interests.  Also quite a few “Drumhead Savoy” cabbage seeds, however, that’s another vegetable my family is not big on, and it took me a year, overwintering, to get a full-sized head.   I loved growing Radicchio this year and it was super hardy.  Wish I could remember what variety it was.

I collected and saved perennial and annual flowers last season: Gaillarda “Indian Blanket”, Coreopsis “Tickseed”, Tropical Milkweed, Purple Columbine, Delphinium, Marigold, Cardinal Flower Vine, Cleome, Morning Glory, Zinnia, Scarlet Runner Bean, Purple Hyacinth Bean, Black Eyed Susan Vine, Lunaria, Snapdragon, and Strawflower.

So here are my seed needs:  Spinach, Beans (I’m looking for a thin, stringless, French-style green bean.  Kylee at Our Little Acre has recommended “Jade”), carrots, zucchini and yellow squash -- recommendations, anyone?

Seedlings needed: Tomatoes and peppers.    

SEED OFFER:  Minnesota Midget (small cantaloupe) – I may put in one of these plants.  But I saved like 400 seeds!  Just email me your address if you’d like some:

Here are some seed companies that I’ve used and recommend.

What new things are you growing this year?   Any old faithfuls that you'll be sticking with for sure?


Lorilee said...

I know what you mean about wanting to plant more than your space allows. I think the varieties and planting times are quite different here in south Texas than where you are. I am currently growing cherry belle and white icicle radishes, Bloomsdale spinach, Danvers 126 half long carrots, Detroit dark red beets. My broccoli and cauliflower plants died in some of our earlier frosts. I have one surviving Purple of Sicily cauliflower and several Romanesco Italian. I have a little red leaf lettuce as well.
Good luck with vpthis year's garden. Hopefully the rain will return to south Texas.

the home tome said...

I am intrigued by this type of tomato called a Mortgage Lifter - ha! Is that for real??

I recently learned what lunaria is - I have become enchanted by the dried variety - (I will be addressing the weird fake kind displayed at Pier 1 in an upcoming post...)

Happy New Year and Happy Gardening!

k said...

I'm away at school through most of may, so I'm not home to start seeds. Very frustrating.
I think I will grow scarlet runner beans from seed. I have to look through the catalogs to see what else I can't live without this year.

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Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Hi, I was just wondering is the melon seeds you are offering only in US? I always wanted to try growing this melon.