Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Will my dream come true?

We have signed all the paperwork to sell this village house with little property and to buy a farmhouse with barns and 9 acres. I'm completely consumed with thoughts of this real estate deal. We have a few months of waiting for the paperwork and applications to go through. Right now we expect the move to take place in mid-July, if nothing goes wrong. Not good timing for a vegetable garden. I've decided that I will not put a garden in here at this house at all this year. Fortunately we will have the garden at our friend's house from which we will have a portion of the produce.

Imagine the possibilities! I have visions of an orchard, berry bushes, huge gardens, chickens and a stand at the farmer's market.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's seedling mania around here!

Yesterday my husband and I sat down and started the tomato seeds. Spring must be here! In past years we had always run out, or were very close to running out, of tomato sauce by this time. I'm happy to say that we still have plenty of sauce still in the pantry. My hope is that it will last us until we have tomatoes and are starting to can this year's sauce. We canned 72 quarts of tomato sauce last season, which I used for spaghetti sauce and chili mostly, and that appears to be a year's supply for a family of five.

The types of tomatoes that we are planting this year are different from our normal choices. Since I am doing this little community garden I asked for some input about what the other people would like to grow. I'm really excited to grow some different varieties. My husband is resistant to change for change's sake. We planted San Marzanos, which we did plant last year and were very pleased with. I did insist on them because it is important for us to have a reliable sauce tomato. The big change is that we did NOT plant Big Mamas like we have for the past 3 years or so. They were disappointing last year and the San Marzanos outperformed them by far. The San Marzanos may be much smaller but they more than make up for it in production. We also chose a hybrid called Campbells as a back-up sauce tomato.

Of course we are keeping the standard Sun Gold cherry tomato. I don't think I'll every deviate from that choice. We picked a few different heirloom varieties. Old German, which looks a lot like Striped German that we planted the past 2 years, is one. Another is Black Sea Man. The name makes my husband and I snicker every time it is said. So I'm sure that will be a big joke once the tomatoes are on the vine. "Oh honey, this Black Sea Man is delicious!"

We also started a large hybrid called Watermelon Beefsteak. The other freebee from Totally Tomato is a hybrid called Jetsonic and we planted that as well. In all we should have 144 tomato plants, the majority of which we'll use ourselves. The difference will go to the Master Gardener plant sale. There are about 40 pepper plants growing now. And of course we can't forget the artichokes which are looking wonderful. They are scheduled to go out to the cold frame for the rest of spring this week. That's their 6 week portrait there at the top.

The pepper seeds were started on March 13th. They don't germinate or grow nearly as fast as the tomatoes and I've found that they need more time. They are all sprouted now and doing nicely. I planted 4 varieties; a bell called Fat & Sassy, Jalepenos, a mild chili called Mariachi, and a Hungarian type called Volcano which came free from Totally Tomato.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This year's challenge; artichokes

Every year I like to try a different plant that has a bit of a reputation as a challenge, or that no one else around here is growing. Last year I did eggplants which turned out to be very easy.

Artichokes are actually a tender perennial that cannot be over wintered this far north. They can be grown as annuals but they need to be tricked into thinking they are 2 years old to get them to set fruit. So, it's the old fooling mother nature routine, and she doesn't always fall for it. The way to do this is to start them early, let them grow for a few weeks, and then put them out in a cold frame for a few weeks. The hope is that they get enough cold temperatures that they think they've just experienced a mild southern winter. It's kind of like taking your toddler and dressing her up like a 20 year old show girl in Las Vegas in the hopes of winning a pageant. But this isn't nearly so freaky.

I started the artichoke seeds, a variety called Imperial Star, on Valentine's Day. They haven't germinated yet, but I expect they will have by the 21st.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Time to plan the vegetable garden

Now that Christmas is over the seed catalogues have started rolling in and I have time to think about Spring and start planning the garden. This year is special because I am doing my first community garden! This is something I have always wanted to do and although I'm am starting off on a very small scale, I'm so excited.

I'm going to put in a large garden at a friend's house and three families are going to share in the labor (hopefully equally) and share in the produce. I feel as though it is my mission in life to help people learn to grow their own food and I think this is a good way to teach, even if it is just a few people.

We'll keep our own garden at home, of course. But I need to order seeds pretty soon because I start the tomato and pepper seedlings in March. I love this time of year. It holds so much promise.