Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's that time of year again...

Time to plan out the garden and start seedlings! Actually that "time of year" was a few weeks ago, but it's not too late. I promised to post about what I'd be planting, how much, and when.

Let's start with the "what":

Eggplant-black beauty
Last year I grew black beauties from seed and purchased Fairy Tale from an internet vendor. The black beauties were great although I got them started too late because I got into our town garden late. The Fairy Tales were too small and honestly, I never knew what to do with them. Maybe i just don't love fresh eggplant as much as I thought I did. I decided I wouldn't even grow eggplant again except I had some seeds leftover and Morgan has a Tunisian stuffed eggplant recipe from his grandmother he is eager to try again. So...I'll give it a shot.

Tomatoes-Roma and grape
I'm not the biggest tomato lover. I could even foresee a day when maybe I didn't grow tomatoes at all. That day is not today though! Mostly because I'm Italian and every generation of my family have grown tomatoes. Because of this luke warm attitude towards tomatoes (I should say Morgan likes them, so that's a reason too) I decided to only grow tomatoes I thought I might like-grape tomatoes for snacking and Roma tomatoes for making a sauce. Besides, vine-ripened sun-warmed tomatoes are so different from any other tomato I have ever met. I also ordered some heirloom variety (4 plants online) just in case everything goes belly up. I still want to have something decent to plant come May. Another reason to grow tomatoes is for canning purposes and Morgan has a great pan y tomate recipe of grated tomato atop French bread with garlic that's really delicious.

Peppers-sweet and banana, maybe one or two hot
Last year I was surprised by how much I enjoyed growing peppers. We had a lot of uses for peppers, especially the mild hot ones that we made into poppers for the beginning of the football season. This year I would like to try and preserve banana peppers because I like adding those to salads or sandwiches. Also, preserving is a good way to have home grown vegetables all year long. I also ordered 6 pepper plants, a variety pack of sweet peppers just to mix things up. The banana peppers I'm going to grow from seed.

I only had one plant make it last year. But a lot of seeds left. Here's to a whole year of learning and a good batch of lettuce.

Swiss Chard
I have the seeds and I like to eat it so why not!?

Beans-pole beans
Same here. Plus, this year I'm focusing on pole beans rather than bush beans. For some reason, last year I thought I didn't have enough room for pole beans, but this year I realize it's not really a land issue. Pole beans grow up but don't require much more room in the garden. Plus, they produce a better yield.

My favorite! It takes up a lot of room but I love zucchini. Im going to try for two plants and see what happens. Also, Johnny Appleseed style I may spread seeds all over my relatives' yards in the hopes they are able to grow some too.

I have the seeds and thought they'd be good for eating and preserving maybe.

The "when"-these are more or less laid out in order of when I need to start them, with the exception of the lettuce. I just want to start my lettuce early because I love it that much. But normally lettuce isn't a plant that needs to be started indoors. I've had bad luck starting seeds in the ground. I think my problem is keeping them moist enough. So I'll be starting all of my seeds indoors, just that some (eggplant, peppers, tomatoes) need 6-8 weeks indoors and the others will just get their start (2-3 weeks) indoors and then go in the garden. Most are cool weather tolerant too (not eggplant, tomatoes, or peppers) so they can go in the ground as soon as they start sprouting.

The "how much"-I'm not going to concern myself with this element that much. There are worse problems than having too many fresh vegetables. If this happens, it'll give me a great opportunity to learn about preserving vegetables. The banana peppers especially I'd like to preserve.

"Where?" - this year I am starting my seedlings in soil blocks inside on a heating mat under a grow light. When the weather is clear and sunny, not too warm or too cold, I move the seedlings into what I like to call my carden. This way I don't have to use artificial measures the entire time my seedlings are indoors. Especially as seedlings, it's important that plants receive enough light.

What's a carden? This is my car + garden = carden. It's the perfect greenhouse.

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