I actually got some writing done this week! (And not just half-drafts of posts for this blog.) Much of it was family history stuff, but I actually started working on one of the "Xtreme Outlining" projects again. (It does work for those times when stories have to go dormant. They don't just die!)
Johnny's Selected Seeds. I need the plastic "mulch" to kill grass where I'm putting in beds. I also ordered some "green manure" -- cover crops you plant to enrich the soil, and a few packets of seed. (While I am expanding the garden, it's still not very big.) I'll be buying plants from a local greenhouse for some things, so this is not everything.
They have a fancy new kind of black plastic -- it's not quite black. It lets through infrared light, which warms the soil significantly more. This will be good for solarizing the soil (and killing off bad bacteria) and also for just warming the soild for planting.
Normally I wouldn't need this but since we are expanding the bed by more than double, AND putting in a Black Cap patch, we need the grass-killing power.
*Green Manure: Peas And Oats
Since I don't have my own compost heap, I would like to add some more organic material to the soil, and also keep down weeds. Cover crops do both. This year, though, instead of the usual ryes and clovers, I decided to buy the field peas and oats mix. The peas fix nitrogen for the soil, and the oats provide a "trellis" for the peas to grow on.... AND THE PEA GREENS ARE EDIBLE!
Seriously, I love the exspensvie "pea greens" you can get in Chinese restaurants in the spring, but I thought they must be a special kind of plant. Apparently you can harvest the tender tips of any kind of peas, including field peas and they are just great. So, I'm going for it -- a cover crop AND a stealth food crop. (Also, field peas are what you make pea soup out of, but I'm not sure I have the space to bring a field crop to harvest.)
If you can keep the woodchucks away, nothing will give you great crops for lower maintenance than pole beans. I love "filet" beans; the thin, French style "haricots verts." They are tasty and tender. So I am growing Fortex pole beans. They don't grow quite as wildly as Blue Lake, but that just makes them manageable. I'm going to make a large trellis for them this year out of pvc. It'll be an arch and I may put Malabar Spinach on the other end of it. (Oh, shoot, forgot to order those! Oh, well, I can probably get seeds at the garden center....)
These are my main other crop. Gramma called them "pickles" whether we pickled them or not, and pickling varieties are so much sweeter and buttery flavored... I just don't consider it a cucumber if it's not a pickling variety. Also, this is my native food. Cucumbers are our most important crop.
This year I just got the standard Northern Pickling. I usually get a special variety called "Little Leaf" which is less prone to disease, and is easier to harvest because it has little leaves. However, I've decided like the flavor of NP better, and it starts setting fruit earlier.
I don't usually grow radishes, but they are the earliest crop. And my Significant Otter likes them -- plus Johnny's has this cool variety called Bora, which is purple and large like a Korean radish. (And because they are big, they probably aren't going to be that early.) Might be a good cooking or pickling radish.
I'm going to give the carrots a try this year. They are bit fussy to grow, and there is no way we will be able to grow as many as we eat, but still. It's a raised bed garden -- the soil is loose and fertile. Perfect for carrots. I'm growing Adelaide, a "true" baby carrot. It's naturally small, and thus fills out early.
Other things I plan to grow, but will wait for plants:
*Black Caps (as mentioned in a previous post) - but the everbearing variety I have my eye on comes from another company.
*Peppers - I have great luck with thin walled peppers like Shishito, so I'll grow at least one of them, but I'll be trying another thick-walled sweet pepper too.
*Eggplants - either I or S.O. will be growing these. The tender, sweet Ichiban variety.
*Basil - I usually get a plant or two. I love Thai basil, but can't always find it. When I grow sweet basil, I tend to not harvest it as much, and have discovered that the bees love it. So... if there's room I might let a basil bush grow all out of control. (Or, I might not buy it, but let the seeds from last year sprout, and I'll just transplant....)
Finally, I will also call the local community gardens and ask about available space -- and if they have it, I might grow melons or squash. (Since I have a garden, I don't want to compete for space with people who don't have gardens at all -- but if space is available, why not?)
See you in the funny papers.