Posted By Jonathan on May 21, 2013
This year’s garden started in March. Yeah, we started seeds again. No, we didn’t record seed starting progress this year. It did go very well and I think we figured it out! Our set up involved five levels of grow lights and we moved the set up to the kitchen. It helped, because we saw the plants and remembered to take care of them — or rather better care than last year.
The garden this year is also different set up. Planting directly in the ground didn’t quite work for us last year. It could have been the drought and high heat, or our heavy soil. So, we have built raised beds to hold a majority of our plants. We have four up and running, and need to finish the last two beds. Having the raised beds offers a few other comforts. They give us a definitive planting space and path space. No longer will we accidentally step into a bed! Raised beds are up a bit higher so weeding, if any, and insect control will be easier on our bodies. Watering is going to be easier. Our hose will no longer take out a bed of plants while we weren’t looking! The soil we put in the beds (yeah we BOUGHT soil) is looser and full of nutrients for the plants. In coming years we plan to build cold frames and the higher dirt will also mean said dirt will warm up quicker. Finally, we plan to build framed boxes to go on top to protect against detrimental insects that may return again this year. The potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, and cauliflower will be the ones getting protection.
Another addition we have in the garden is an arbor for the cucurbits (squash, pumpkin, cucumber, watermelon, cantelope). It is placed over a pathway, so once it’s filled it’ll be a green fruit filled tunnel. How fun!?
Onto WHAT we have planted (and a little about the seed):
‘Bear Paw’ Popcorn
Developed by Glenn Thompson of Vermont. He distributed the popcorn throughout New England from the 1930s-1960s. ‘Bear Paw’ was a popular variety served in homes and movie theaters and was featured at the World’s Fair in the Vermont exhibit. This variety grows 4-5′ tall with attractive purple coloring on husks and stems. Ears are 4-5″ filled with pearly off-white kernels. The name comes from the often flattened and split ears at the silk end, which gives the appearance of a bear paw.
‘Moonlight’ Runner Bean
British bread runner bean which combines the ‘beneficial’ characteristics of French beans into runner beans. Prolific white flowers set smooth, fleshy, stringless, ten inch pods. –We grew them our first year and indeed, they are large bean pods!
We saved this seed from the 2011 year and decided to plant it this year. We’re unsure of the variety since we did not actually label it at the time!
‘Golden Sweet’ Pea
Bi-colored purple flowers will set bright lemon-yellow pods. This variety was collected at a market in India! Edible pod, best when small or tan purple flecked seed can be dried and added to soup.
Widely grown and prized in Italy. Romanesco produces a apple-green whorled head with better taste and texture than post of the finest broccolis. Also a great example of Fibonacci number!
‘De Cicco’ Broccoli
This Italian heirloom was introduced to the U.S. in 1890. Compact 2-3′ plant produces a 4″ central head. Once central head is cut, side shoots will form. Very early broccoli which is great for freezing.
‘Early Snowball’ Cauliflower
Introduced to the U.S. in 1888. This cauliflower produces smooth 6-7″ heads of tightly formed white curds. Solid, crisp and tender.
This cucumber was donated to Seed Saver’s Exchange in 1989 by Graham and Margaret Collier of Tennessee. Margaret’s parents collected the seed from a group of migrant people traveling through Indiana around 1910. Collier produces short, blocky fruit 2-5″ long. Pale white-green skin and subtle, slightly sweet flavor.
‘Northern Pickling’ Cucumber
Produces heavy yields of good quality, uniform cukes of 3-5″ long. Short growing season and does well in northern climates. Great for pickling!
‘Imperial Black Beauty’ Eggplant
A popular variety that was introduced around 1910. Fruit is 4-6″ long and plump 4-5″ diameter. Yields 5-6 fruit per plant.
‘Loewen Family Heirloom’ Ground Cherry
Donated to Seed Savers Exchange in 1999 by Edna and Ann of Minnesota. This variety has been handed down through at least four generations of women. Edna’s mother brought the variety with her when she emigrated from Russia to Canada in 1925. This ground cherry is very productive with sprawling habits. Fruit is approximately 2/3″ diameter. Tangy, sweet fruit encased inn a papery husk. Eat only once fruit has fallen to the ground.
Long, tender leeks with 3′ shank. Considered a summer leek and is said not to winter well in hard freezing climates. –ours wintered over and that’s why they continue to be in our garden!
‘Chesnok Red’ Garlic
This variety originates from the village of Shvelisis in the Republic of Georgia. Purple striped paper with red cloves. Easy to peel, good lingering taste that retains well after cooking. Rated best for baking or roasting.
‘Stuttgarter Riesen’ Yellow Onion
This onion we saved seed from last year. Originally we bought then as sets, missed one during harvest, and it gave us a beautiful blooming display spring 2012. We’ve enjoyed the variety which gives us large yellow bulbs with a subtle flavor.
‘Rossa Di Milano’ Onion
Probably our favorite onion and our goal in seed saving. This reddish pink onion produces 3-4″ bulbs with a mildly hot flavor. Bulbs are flat on top, tapering to a barrel shape. Considered an Italian red storage onion.
‘Yellow of Parma’ Onion
This variety was imported from Italy. It’s a top quality, late maturing onion. Bulb is a golden globe shape weighing on average of a pound. One of the best for storage.
‘Martin’s Carrot’ Hot Pepper
This hot pepper was donated to Seed Savers Exchange by Dr. William Woys Weaver of Pennsylvania in 1996. It is said to have been developed in the nineteenth century by Mennonite horticulturist Jacob B. Garber and preserved by the Martin Family of Pennsylvania. Fruit is 1.5-3″ long and will ripen to a red-orange carrot shape. Hot smoky flavor with thin flesh.
‘California Wonder’ Orange Bell Pepper
A conventional variety which produces early, orange block bell type fruits. Thick walls and 3-4 lobes. Great for stuffed peppers.
‘Nardello’ Sweet Pepper
An Italian heirloom variety preserved by the Nardello family. The 6-8″ fruits have an almost candy-like sweetness. Great fresh, fried, roasted, or frozen for winter. Productive plants.
Beefsteak is a conventional variety but we love it. Produces 9-12 ounce tomatoes with firm skin and red juicy flesh. A great slicing tomato.
‘Mamie Brown’s Pink’ Tomato
This variety was donated to Seed Savers Exchange by Alicia Brown-Matthes of Iowa. The variety produces large, pink beefsteak like fruit. Fruit shape ranges from slightly flattened to round to slightly heart shaped. Double fruits are somewhat common. Good flavor of balanced sweetness and acidity.
‘Black Russian’ Tomato
An old variety with rich, complex flavor. Fruit is medium sized with dark mahogany-brown skin and flesh. Delicious blend of sugar and acid. — We enjoy this variety because it is a bit milder on the acid side. Great for sandwiches or soups!
‘Hagan Little Yellow’ Tomato
This yellow cherry tomato was donated to Seed Savers Exchange in 2002 by Bernice Hagen Mobley. 1943 is the earliest cultivation to the family who still saves the variety today. The tomato has indeterminate growth with regular leaves. Fruit averages 1 inch in diameter. Excellent yields in bunches of 5-7 fruits.
‘Honey Rock’ Cantaloupe
The sweet flesh of honey rock is a favorite for home gardeners. It’s 5-6″ fruit has heavy netting, faint ribbing, and a deep salmon color.
‘Baltham Butternut’ Winter Squash
Popular variety and heavy yielding plant. Plant produces uniform 8-10″ fruits with thick, cylindrical necks and a very small seed cavity. Rind is creamy-tan, and the yellow-orange flesh has a delicious sweet and nutty flavor.
‘Mammoth Table Queen/Royal Acorn’ Winter Squash
This acorn squash produces fruit with dark green skin and sweet, yellow flesh. Can be stored for four to six weeks.
‘Sweet Dumpling’ Winter Squash
Sweet Dumpling produces 4-6″ tea cup shaped personal sized fruits. Beautiful white and green rind with sweet orange flesh.
‘Hokkaido Stella Blue’ Winter Squash
This is by far our favorite squash so far! The plant produces 2-5 lb. fruits that are round, flattened, and slate blue. The orange flesh is sweet, rich, and fiberless. When we say sweet we mean very sweet! We could hardly believe it last year — no brown sugar needed!
‘Sweet Fall’ Winter Squash
Donated to Seed Savers Exchange in 1998 by Ortha and Wallace Broeker of Nebraska. The variety was grown by Wallace’s uncle Rob in the 1930s. The plant produces Hubbard type, teardrop-shaped fruit It possesses an attractive salmon and blue-green skin. Fruits average 4lbs. with very sweet, unique flavor.
‘Summer Croockneck Early’ Summer Squash
This variety is known for its taste and ease in growing. The deep yellow fruit have a curved neck and plump blossom end averaging 6″ long. Flesh has a distinctive buttery flavor. Great fresh, fried, steamed, or baked.
‘Black Beauty’ Zucchini
This variety was introduced in 1957. It has a classic cylindrical, glossy black-green fruit. Flesh is firm and creamy white. A consistent provider. Delicious anyway you like zucchini!
‘Charleston Gray’ Watermelon
Light green, oblong-shaped fruits with a bright red, sweet flesh. Average 30lbs and are streaked with dark green veins.
‘Freaky Tom’ Pumpkin
This pumpkin is a ghoulish one. Large orange fruits have warty growths all over. Tall shaped fruits of about 12″ high, 10″ in diameter and 10-14lbs. A fun variety for decor or eating.
This year we didn’t order anything specific. Most of those we put in storage last year ended up growing so we just planted them back into the ground. This year’s will hopefully be a combination of French fingerling, purple, and russet. It’ll be a surprise to us all!
‘Detroit Dark Red’ Beet
Round, deep red roots are tender and sweet. Great for canning and freezing.
‘Lutz Salad Leaf’ Beet
Produces lush, chard-like greens and large, flavorful red beets. Tender and sweet even when large. One of the best storage beets.
‘Purple Vienna’ Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi is in the brassica family. Purple Vienna’s purple skinned, above ground bulbs with crisp white flesh of have a sweet turnip-like flavor. Great raw or steamed.
America was the all America Selections winner in 1952. It grows 8″ tall with thick, deep green, savoyed leaves. Slow-growing, slow to bolt, heat and drought resistant. Great fresh, frozen, or canned.
This variety has a robust, peppery flavor which adds zest to salads.
This year we again are growing a variety of lettuces. Our planted varieties include ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ leaf, ‘Parris Island Cos’ romaine type, and ‘Salad leaves Mixture’ leaf. In addition we have several volunteer leaf lettuce popping up from last year’s bolting.
We are unsure of the variety of our turnips. We received the seeds from our friends who got them in a survival kit sometime. They were simply labeled ‘turnips’ with the germination rate for that year. More surprises for us!
Again, we are unsure of the variety. We planted them last year and they had refused to grow. So, these are the seed from last year. Possibly Nantes.
In addition to these amazing vegetables, our garden will be studded with a variety of flowers including marigolds, nasturtium, and sunflowers. We are so excited for this year’s crops and hope you are having a great start to your garden planning and planting, too!