Monday, February 24, 2014

Garden planning/ Spring dreaming.

So it has started. The planning of the garden and the buying of the seeds. This has always been a bit of a problem for me. :) i'm completely addicted to buying seeds. i love a garden that is full of color and variety. i especially love unusual color, which is why i tend to plant an entire bed full of all purple vegetables. :)

Although i'm not much of a planner, i'm trying to sit down and get a handle on my seed stash.  i don't like buying all my seeds at once. i like to collect them over time, purchasing a few here and few there. Picking up a pack or two each time i leave the house. i purchase some online, and some impulsively when i pass the seed racks at the store. i saved a few seeds from last year, but not my usual amount so i have a lot of seeds to buy this year. i do have some scarlet runners, October beans and soy beans that managed to save.

Two years in a row we've been hit with late blight that wiped out all of our tomatoes. Fresh homegrown tomatoes are my absolute favorite thing about having a garden so losing all of plants was devastating.  Especially after having lost everything just a few months before.

 Last year it also wiped out our potatoes (it was a really bad year!) , which i blame on planting them so late. We didn't move back to property until June, and that's when my entire garden was planted. Typically the potatoes would have already been done by the time the blight hit the tomatoes. Although late blight is not suppose to over winter in soil, it can overwinter in potato tubers. So any volunteer potato plants that come up will have to be destroyed or they could risk spreading the blight again.

This make my garden planning a bit tricky, as i really need to avoid planting my tomatoes in any area that had potatoes or tomatoes last year. It's always important to rotate our crops, but i had so many potatoes seeds to plant i ended up putting them in every garden. So every garden now has a little bit extra risk of the blight returning.

Tomatoes are my weakness though, and so i have about a dozen varieties so far and i'm sure i'll have a dozen more before the garden is tilled.  :)  i've only purchased heirloom varieties. So far i have seeds for Moneymaker, Tomato Pineapple, Violet Jasper, Ferris Wheel, Ananas noire, Yoder's German Yellow, Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, Golden Jubilee, Yellow pear and San Marzano.  i'll definitely be picking up some Brandywines, Hillbilly and Mortgage lifters too.  i love all the colors, shapes and flavor differences that the heirloom tomatoes offer. 

Most of my seeds this year were purchased from Baker Creek, Botanical Interests and Southern Exposure seed exchange.  

 i picked up several packs from Botanical interest when they had a free shipping deal. They are one of the few places i can find the Redbor Kale, which is a favorite. It's not heirloom, but it's a beautiful purple kale that is delicious, makes the best kale chips and grows all season long. The Redbor sells out quickly and can be hard to find so i was thrilled to find it there! i also love that the seeds come in a reusable seed storage box. :)

It's still a little early to start seeds inside for my area, but i can't stop buying them.  If you are unsure of planting time for your area, i recommend checking out The Farmer's Almanac Planting Guide.  These are the dates for my area, but you can plug your zipcode into the location box and it will customize for your area/climate.

i have a feeling this years garden is going to be extra challenging. We are trying to avoid the return of the blight, i have to figure out how to prevent the voles from eating my sweet potatoes again and i really need to work on building up my soil. Typically we add manure and compost, but last year we did nothing, so i really need to make sure and get some organic matter added in.  My rototiller, which was in the shed and survived the fire died anyway. So i'm not even sure how i'm going to get the garden tilled up. i would really like to get the soil tilled now while everything is thawed, so that when it freezes again next week  it will help kill off some of the bug larva and weed seeds that are in the soil.

We have a possibility of snow again this week, so right now i'm am only dreaming.

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides. ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show


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