Saturday, March 12, 2011

ready for a thaw

I've been gardening all of my life.  I have a photo of myself as a 4-year-old holding huge winter squash that I grew (with some help) in a corner of my dad's garden.  As a kid, most gardening was involuntary- pulling weeds and picking beans in my dad's garden.  I wasn't so keen on it then, but it was the start of an addiction.  Now I get impatient waiting for the snow to melt.  I order my seeds from Fedco and get a rush from opening the box and seeing the new seeds for this years garden.

The seeds came last week and the rush has come and gone and the snow has stayed.  15F this morning and it's mid-March.  So instead of gardening I write about gardening.

Every year I say that I'm going to keep a garden journal like every book and website says you should, but every year I either forget or put it off, and by the time it's planting season, I haven't done it, and soon it's October and I wonder what that spinach variety was that I planted and that tasted so good.  One of my resolutions this year (too late for a new years' resolution-- maybe for Chinese new year) is to keep a journal and to do it online so I actually have to keep up with it. 

My wife and I and two young kids live in Saint Paul, on a eighth-of-an-acre lot.  We've been here 5 years now, going on 6, expanding our little veggie plot every year.  We've slowly added fruit trees, a few berry bushes and a grape vine.  Last year we leased a plot at the community garden near our house, and got another 10' x 15' plot with full sun, which we lack in our backyard.  We had an bumper crop of okra and tomatoes and butternut squash with the hot weather last summer and will try to do the same thing this year, and grow watermelon as well.

The seeds we ordered from Fedco this year included:
Windsor Fava Bean - an awesome producer, and delicious- our third year growing them
Shirofumi soybeans - first time with these
Oregon Giant Snow Peas - the seeds are huge- first time with these as well
Cream of Saskatchewan melon -  a yellow watermelon that should grow in Minnesota if it's able to make it in western Canada
Telegraph Improved European Cucumber- sounds like a variant of the English cucumber my wife likes
Danvers Carrot- We've grown this one for at least 4 years now-- tasty and super-productive in our shady garden
Green Meat Radish- another new one.  It sounds like a small Daikon variation.  We've tried the bigger daikons and had success the first year, then bad luck every year after.  Not sure if we have some sort of fungus or nematode affecting the daikons, but hopefully green meat won't be affected.
Space Spinach- sounded good in teh Fedco catalog
Mustard Mix- a mix of the south asian greens my wife likes so much
Pung Pop mustard- see above
Piracicaba broccoli- Was sold out this year at Fedco!  I was so bummed out-- I special ordered it from another company- we'll see if it arrives.   Piracicaba has been one of the best plants we've ever planted in our garden.  Small florets of really tasty broccoli all summer and well into fall.  Besides the kale, this is the longest lasting thing in our garden.
Nero di Tuscana kale- we ususally order two varieties of kale each year- a Russian kale, usually a purple or multicolor kale, and a lacinato, or dinosaur variety .  This year, we're sticking with lacinato only.  As wonderful as the kale is, it tends to take over the garden.  We end up with a forest of kale by the fall, and the Russian kale just isn't as tasty as  the lacinato. 
Cajun Jewel okra.  We've ordered it in the past and it was sold out.  This year we got it!  Supposedly it's better adapted to our cooler climate and shorter growing season.  Last year I planted Clemson spineless (I think that was the name) from the hardware store, and it did well, but that had more to do with the hot summer than anything else. I'm keen on seeing what Cajun Jewel does in our community garden space.
Jaluv An hot pepper- a jalepeno variety that does well in northern climates
Garden Peach tomato- I planted this 10 or 12 years ago and loved it.  It really is peach-like.  Sweet, slightly fuzzy and fruity.  Hard to believe it's real.  I think the kids will like this one.
Opalka paste tomato- We make salsa every year and go through a lot of tomatoes during the growing season.  I'm hoping this is a good one.  The write-up in the catalog looked good.  Will it deliver?
Sweet Basil- for the pesto we make and freeze in the fall.  We couldn't go without some basil in the garden.
Caribe cilantro- we still have wild cilantro coming up from some we planted 5 seasons ago.  But this is supposed to be more robust and slow-bolting.  The opposite of the stuff we have volunteering in the garden right now. 

That's all the seeds we have now.  I'll probably buy or trade some starts at some point.  More about that later.


  1. Random passerby says:

    You will love Opalka. Its few seeds make processing much easier, and it's delicious to eat fresh!

  2. Thanks JRB!

    I'm looking forward to trying Opalka. I've had more luck with sauce tomatoes than with salad tomatoes over the years, and am excited to try this one. I saw a bunch of people at our community garden growing a similar looking tomato, that one person called "Federale". Not sure if it's related.

    In any case- thanks for the encouragement- now I really can't wait for summer to get here.