Planning the 2014 Garden

A few weeks ago, when the average daily temperatures were lingering around -22 (without the windchill), we placed our 2014 seed order with Park Seed.  Part of the reason we order through Park (despite my heirloom, seed saving dreaming) is their super reliable Tenderette and Soleil green beans, a staple of our winter diet (they freeze like a dream, and we eat them 2-3 times a week).

Young, fresh beans

Tenderette and Soleil Beans in Our Garden

I would like to say that A’s arrival has made us more cautious gardeners, but though we’ve cut back on some things (we might not have terribly over-ordered seeds as we have in past years), we still plan to fill both our primary garden 100’x50′ and our smaller garden 10’x100′, and if you were worried, we’re also preparing for a 2014 chick purchase to add more genetic diversity to our flock of Buff Orpingtons after a 2013 decline in hatch rate.

Chicks hatched in 2012 from our own birds.

Chicks hatched in 2012 from our own birds.

In planning our garden, we made the choice to grow more crops that we use all winter (carrots, beans, peas, onions, garlic, tomatoes) and fewer try-it-out-for-fun crops (though we will be planing parsnips again this year because we’ve really enjoyed having them!).  So what did we decide on?

2014 Vegetable Order

  • Green Ice Lettuce (Free Add-On)
  • Master Chef Blend Lettuce
  • Summer Glory Blend Lettuce (Free Add-On)
  • Green Towers Lettuce (Free Add-On)
  • Sweet Rainbow Blend Pepper
  • Orange Paruche Hybrid Tomato
  • Sugary Tomato
  • Costoluto Genovese Tomato
  • Mr. Big Pea
  • Lincoln Pea
  • Tendersnax Carrot
  • Honey Bear Squash
  • Summer Squash Medley
  • Soleil Bean (Yellow String)
  • Tenderette Bean (Green String)
  • Albion Hybrid Parsnip
  • Yellow Onion Set

In addition to this, we’ll purchase cucumber plants from a local grower because no matter how we try, we’ve never been able to get them to grow reliably from seed; whereas, every year we buy plants from the same mom and pop  greenhouse and they thrive.  Other than that, we’re hoping for another big crop of blueberries from the bushes we planted a few years ago.

A was more than ready to help when we placed our seed order a few weeks ago!

A was more than ready to help when we placed our seed order a few weeks ago!

What are you planting in your garden this spring?

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Seed Starting ~ What’s Going in Our Garden

Given that we have about eight weeks before we will be able to safely plant some of our most tender vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, artichokes, basil, etc…), we decided that it was time to take out the grow-light and get everything situated.  We use an old metal table (which does a great job reflecting heat back into the plants), a recycled florescent four bulb T8 fixture, and a timer that ensures the plants get a solid 12 hours of light/day.

On Saturday morning, we set everything up and refilled the seed starters that we used an saved last year with fresh potting mix.  Given that the soil had spent the last few days in our garage, we warmed it under the lights for an hour before planting.

Warming the Soil

We then planted the following:
Greens:
1 Full Flat of Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach (Cold Frame in 2 Weeks)
1 Full Flat of Salad Bowl Lettuce (Cold Frame in 2 Weeks)

Herbs:
76 Italian Basil
9 Cilantro
9 Fernleaf Dill

Artichokes
18 Carciofo di Romagna Artichokes (CA)
*I started with nine but the seeds were so pretty…

Tomatoes
9 Container Choice Hybrid Tomatoes (TH)
32 Golden Gem Tomatoes (TM)
27 Costoluto Genovese Tomato (TCG)
10 Orange Paruche Tomatoes (TO)

OR Peppers

Peppers
36 Oregon Hybrid Peppers (OR)
27 Sweet Rainbow Peppers (SR)
10 Early Jalapeno Peppers (JAL)

Given the outrageous cost of plant markers, I also purchased a box of popsicle sticks (which we can recycle after use) to use as plant markers.  Above, each parenthetical corresponds with the popsicle stick plant markers I plan to use.

Once done, we gave everyone a nice drink of water, put on the greenhouse caps and turned on the lights.  Keep checking back for our weekly plant update!

Waiting for Sprouts!