I’ve been going through my seldom-written in notebook from the past three growing years. My, how the obsession has grown!
Three years ago, in 2007, the bulk of my garden was planted by April 30th. A second planting of lettuce, turnips, and red beets in July that year failed.
That was the year I tried growing my tomatoes in pots. That was also the year I swore I would never grow tomatoes in pots again. My note says “next year, herbs in pots, tomatoes IN GROUND”.
I also have a note to do a better job reading seed packets- followed by some angry eyes. Lol. I remember that one. I tended and nurtured some melon plants that year- wrestling with disgusting ground squirrels the whole time too- only to find that the melons I grew were not actually going to get any larger than a baseball. While cute, they weren’t especially juicy and sweet, and one melon was enough for one person. I devoted about 16 square feet of garden space to three tiny baseball sized melons.
The following spring I hatched a plan to expand my garden by adding a third bed to the yard. I was torn between one on the side of the house, and one on the blank side of the shed. It turned out the shed side had more sunshine all day long over the side of the house. What a good move that was! That fall we had landscaping installed and would have lost an entire garden’s worth of produce.
In 2008 I determined I was going to figure out this multi-season gardening thing. I have a neat and tidy list telling me what seeds I had- what seeds were being ordered, and a schedule as to when I should plant. 2008 (just two years ago!) was the first time I started seeds instead of buying tomato plants. (Who knew what THAT was going to lead to!) I started tomato seeds April 4th, and they were potted up already by April 17th.
On April 17th I started Okra, Tomatillos, Peppers and Eggplants
I started two pots as well- one pot of radishes, one pot of spinach, hoping to get a jump on spring. I also started, on April 24th, onion, scallion, leek, radicchio, broccoli, kale, basil, bunching onion and celery.
Shelling peas and snap peas went IN GROUND May 1st.
Starting the radishes and spinach in the pot a month early ended up being a waste. By the time they were ready to harvest, the spinach and radishes in the garden were ready to eat- and of a better quality.
Big discovery that year: Heirloom tomatoes are worth every ounce of energy and money that goes into them. Big time deliciousness.
Other notes: Fennel, while delicious, and one of my favorite vegetables, not so worth it for the home gardener. No herbs or vegetables like to grow near fennel. So in order to successfully grow it, you must have a space devoted to just fennel. Also- the Di Firenze variety I grew two years in a row does not produce a big fat delicious bulb. It was edible, but the stalks were more valuable as an herb.
Tomatillos are awesome! They grow okay in pots, but will thrive if planted in pairs in the ground in a nice sunny place. Given enough time, I suspect they will also produce two harvests in a year. Will do these again when space allows.
Onions: Not worth it to start from seed. Scallions and leeks- yes. Bulbing onions- not so much. Buy onion sets and use those if bulbing onions are desired.
Okra: Rumor is that if I can find the variety Pentagreen, that I can get a decent harvest this far north. However, trials of the variety Cajun Delight produced small pods just two or three at a time- hardly enough to do anything with. If I ever find the pentagreen, I may try them again.