This year, we’re expanding dramatically! Last summer my main project was growing and loving baby Abbie, who was born at the beginning of August. Honestly, I was too hot, enormous, and uncomfortable to do much gardening, and we were woefully unprepared for the undertaking that was our garden. But, for an investment of $60 in seeds, plus another $30ish in plants, I got a lot of produce considering the minimal work I put into it.
This year, it’s only January and we’re already better prepared then we were right before planting last year. I’ve got my new raised beds setup, June-bearing strawberries were planted back in the fall, and I’ve been using a new system to make sure all the beds are growing-ready.
This year I am a lot more as far as the number of plants, as well as the types of things we’re growing. Last year I tried to keep things simple and to not get too fancy because I knew we were going to have Abbie right in the middle of the summer and that would most like mean that the garden would be pretty neglected. That ended up being a very wise idea, but this year I’m back – with raised beds and much more energy and enthusiasm!
- Cucamelons– Mexican Sour Cucumber mostly for summer enjoyment, but I may try to pickle some if there are lots of extras.
- Marigolds – Teddy Bear Dwarf and Creamy White these are for pest control, and to keep our chickens healthy with nice, yellow yolks. Autumn requested a white variety, which I was completely fine with. They’re cute!
- Pole beans – Monte Gusto Bean last year we had a mix-up and bought two bags of bush beans instead of having bush and pole beans. We decided to go with just one variety of pole beans because we also have two types of bush beans.
- Bush beans – I’ll be succession planting Dragon Tongue with our blue lake beans and Jade II beans from last year. Our plants last year did very well and produced nicely even though they were very neglected and I didn’t plant nearly enough of them to have them to preserve. My kids loved the Jade II so much, we barely had any to eat at mealtime because it was their favorite “garden time snack” as they called it. Of course, I wasn’t going to fuss at them for eating beans!
- Celery Golden Self-Blanching Celery – this is something I’m growing with the intention to chop and send straight to the freezer. I love using it in soups, but we don’t eat it raw much.
- Eggplant – Fairy Tale Hybrid Eggplant this plant was another Misfit Market discovery – apparently I love eggplant, and it’s easy to add to stir fry to bulk it up. These are a manageable size, so they should be easy to process and freeze for later.
- Bell peppers – Purple Beauty Bell Pepper we didn’t grow any of these last years because I wanted to limit what we were growing to a manageable number of things. This year with the raised beds I’m going all out. Plus, they’re purple… which is exciting!
- Brussels sprouts – Long Island Improved I’m breaking the “don’t grow it if you don’t eat it” rule here, because Ian loves these and they freeze beautifully according to my friend Google.
- Cucumbers In addition to our Straight Eight cucumbers from last year, we’re growing Corentine Pickling Hybrid – for pickling, as you might have guessed.
- Peas we’re using our Alaskan Peas from last year, which we’re hoping the groundhog doesn’t eat.
- Pumpkins – Mammoth Gold
- Zucchini – Black Beauty – this variety was so great last year. I can’t wait to grow them again this year. I grew 6 last year, which was insane. I’m just doing 3 this year for us, and a few for the chickens.
- Squash – Golden Summer Crookneck – These also did very well. I also did 6 of these (again, what was I thinking?!) and I was drowning in squash. 3 of these for me this year!
- Cantaloupe – Hearts of Gold okay, so I was just growing these last year for fun, and I’m not sure that they didn’t do well because half the vine was out in the yard and got mowed, or because that part of the garden was barely weeded… so I’m giving these seeds another shot because I know that they didn’t have much of a chance to grow well last year.
- Okra – Perkins Ian loves okra, but this didn’t get nearly as tall as the package said they would. It was not even 2′ tall at the end of the growing season, even though it’s supposed to be 5-6′. It produced decently for their size, but we never had enough at one time to pickle them, so I’m growing the same variety, but with several more plants.
- Watermelon – Charleston Grey – These were in the most chaotic part of the garden, but we did end up with some watermelons. I can’t wait to see how well they do when they have a properly weeded and mulched area to grow in.
Cold Weather Crops
- Carrots – Rainbow Gourmet Series honestly, the carrots are as much for fun as they are for practicality.
- Bok Choy BoPak Bok Choi Hybrid – We tried bok choy for the first time in our Misfits Market box and loved it enough to grow our own. This is another crop I’m excited about using to extend our growing season.
- Spinach Bloomsdale Long Standing – I picked this variety so I can plant it early and have a large crop of spinach. I don’t mind using it in smoothies, but I really love spinach in one of our family’s favorite meals, Tortellini Soup.
- Lettuce Gourmet Looseleaf Blend I can’t wait to grow this mix for salads when it’s cool.
If I grew nothing else in the garden, I’d grow tomatoes. I limited myself to buying 6 varieties. Everything I’m growing is indeterminate this year because I have a lot of vertical space and I want to use all the ground space in my garden for other plants.
I plan on mainly using my cherry varieties for summer eating and snacking, and then saving the bigger ones for preserving.
- Early Blue Ribbon Hybrid is a large tomato which, as its name suggests, produces early. I want the longest growing season possible!
- Indigo Cherry Drops Tomato – A cherry variety that’s pretty (so it may sell well at the farmer’s market).
- Lemon Boy Hybrid a large yellow variety, I’m excited about these because several of us get reflux from eating a lot of red tomatoes, so I’m hoping that this variety is easier on us… also they’re pretty. 🙂
- Burpee’s Long-Keeper Tomato is one I’m very excited about. Not only do they have a longer growing season, but these tomatoes are supposed to be shelf-stable for a much longer time than your average tomatoes
- Suncherry Extra Sweet Hybrid is a yellow strain that is super sweet, which will make for a fun snack. I picked these for the same reason as the Lemon Boy – to make it easier on those of us who have reflux, but also love tomatoes.
- Chilli Chilly Chili Hybrid – okay. I have no idea what these will taste like, but the plants are beautiful, and they say they’re mild enough to be grown around kids, so I decided to try them.
- Habaneros – Habanero Peach last year my friend Dawn from Tree of Life Designs gave me some peppers, some which got used to make this hot pepper jelly recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. Ian loved it so much that he decided we had to grow some jalapenos and serranos for the jelly’s main peppers, plus these to give it some real kick.
- Jalapenos – Goliath Jalapeno Hybrid – yup, we’re growing these just for Ian’s new favorite homemade foot – hot pepper jelly.
- Borage – Borage this herb is known to be good for attracting pollinators, repelling hornworms. It’s also good for the chickens, so while it’s growing it will provide benefits to the garden, and I’ll be adding some to
- Thyme – Thyme is a kitchen staple, and with my new dehydrator, I’m excited to be growing some of my pantry staples. I also hope to be canning some made-from-scratch spaghetti sauce this year, so it will come in handy for that as well.
- Basil – Basil, Genovese or Sweet Basil I’m not sure how true it is that basil and tomatoes are beneficial to grow together, but since I’ll have roughly a bazillion tomato plants, I figured it couldn’t hurt to have some basil for my fresh spaghetti sauce.
- Oregano – Oregano, Greek is something I’m using for my sauces and for preservation in the dehydrator.
- Calendula – Snow Princess even though a lot of people call marigolds calendula, it’s not the same thing. Marigolds aren’t consumable by humans, but the herb calendula is useful for lots of things, so I’m going to try my hand at preserving it to use in teas.
- Echinacea Powwow Wild Berry – great for pollinators as well as medicinal properties. Plus, it’s pretty!
Our list of non-edible plants is very short, because as a typical rule I don’t see a point in growing something that can’t be eaten.
White sage – I use white sage to make smudge sticks, but it’s endangered in the wild so I decided to start growing my own! You can read all about that controversy here, but basically, I only want to use ethical sources of white sage, and since I didn’t have a source, I found a local nursery who is getting some plants in this spring, which I’ll just bring inside at the end of the summer.
Indian Corn – Calico Indian We’re growing this for fun, and for fall/winter decor. The kids really wanted to grow corn, and after some discussion with some local gardeners, they said that the Indian corn was hardier and easier to grow, so we decided to go with it. Last year, our corn did abysmally, so we’re hoping this does better!
Sunflowers –Mammoth Russian Autumn wanted desperately to grow sunflowers, so we’re growing a patch “just for her.” I’m also planning on using the seeds for snacks and saving the heads for the chickens to eat as well… but as far as she’s concerned, they’re all for her. 😉