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Gardening Season is Officially Open

April 21st, 2011

Last Friday I went to my mom’s house and we tilled and planted almost all of her garden. We have a large section of grass still covered with a tarp since we’re doubling the size of her garden again this year. The new section will house all of the warm season crops: corn, tomatoes, peppers, and beans. The current area is going to house all the of the early crops. Here’s a plan of the spring crop area which will become a winter garden after harvesting the spring/early summer crops.

We planted a double wide row of potatoes. It’s 4 ft wide and about 35 ft long. We were able to fit 6 varieties of potatoes in this area, all of which were saved from our own potatoes that we grew last year.

Yukon Gold – (my mom’s favorite) A favorite among gardeners, consumers and chefs. Delicious flesh is drier than most other yellow varieties, perfect for baking and mashing. Yellow flesh appears to be buttered. Bred and selected by AgCanada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food in 1966. Excellent yields and a great keeper. 80-90 days.

All Red (a.k.a. Cranberry Red) – Red skin with delicate pale pink flesh. Low starch content makes this variety a good boiling potato for salads or any dish that requires potatoes to retain their shape. Considered the best producing red-fleshed, red-skinned variety. Introduced to SSE members by Robert Lobitz in 1984. Consistently a good producer at Heritage Farm, regardless of the weather conditions. 90-110 days.

Kennebec – (my favorite) Champion late potato! Young tubers are tasty for creaming. Later, good for boiling, mashing, baking—smooth with shallow eyes. Stores well.

Carola – Heavy yields of medium-sized, rounded oval potatoes with straw-beige skin. Excellent when harvested as young new potatoes. Creamy yellow flesh, relatively low starch, great for soups, boiling or fried. Maintains new potato qualities for months in root cellar. 95 days.

La Ratta Fingerling – Long prized by French chefs as a top quality fingerling. We cannot recommend this variety highly enough, an absolute delight to cook with. Long uniform tubers, yellow flesh with firm, waxy texture and a nice nutty flavor, holds together very well. Especially good for potato salad or as a boiled potato. Commands a high price both in the restaurant and fresh market trade. 100-120 days.

French Fingerling – This is a wonderful variety! The rose-colored skin covers its creamy yellow flesh. Very versatile and good for any style of preparation. Peeling is not necessary or recommended. Rumored to have been smuggled to America in a horse’s feedbag in the 1800s. 90-110 days.

I’ll also be planting Purple Viking potatoes in my garden here at Chiot’s Run when I can work up the soil.

We were also able to get four rows of peas planted.

Golden Sweet Snow Pea – (if you remember I planted some of these in planters on my front porch) more than a novelty, this variety produces flat pods that are a beautiful, bright lemon-yellow, great in stir-fries. Tall 6′ vines with purple flowers. Collected from a market in India, rare and tasty. (source: Baker Creek)

Oregon Sugar Pod – Large, thick, 4-5″ pods are superbly tender and delicious. This is my favorite snow pea. Bush plants are high yielding and stay compact. Developed by Dr. James Baggett, of Oregon State University. A winner. (source: Baker Creek)

Little Marvel – Vigorous bush plants, heavy yields and fine-flavored peas. A great home garden variety. An heirloom from 1908. 60 days. (source: Baker Creek)

Wando – This pea was introduced in 1943 and is a great pea for the South, being somewhat heat resistant and can be planted later than most peas. Medium sized peas are great fresh or frozen. An heirloom from 1908. 60 days. (source: Baker Creek)

Green Arrow – 68 days – An excellent garden pea from England. The plants grow 24 to 28 inches tall and have 4 1/2 to 5 inch pods, each stuffed with 8 to 11 petite, deep-green peas. A gourmet variety that has been popular in Europe for years! (source: Sand Hill Preservation)

My mom likes growing onions from sets and she had already purchased 4 different kinds of onion sets, specific cultivars weren’t named on the package. They were simply labeled as: red, white, storage, sweet. We planted roughly 250 onion sets. Some of these will be harvested as green onions and some of them will be left to mature in the garden for bulb onions.

We’re trying to do a little better at planning our garden this year so that when we want to plant winter crops mid-summer we have a large open area ready for them. Last year we had to plant around a few things so it wasn’t as easy to cover as it would have been with better planning. Hopefully all this planning will pay off with a more bountiful harvest of winter vegetables.

How do you plan your garden? Do you plan for multiple season crops from the same space?

17 Comments to “Gardening Season is Officially Open”
  1. Beegirl on April 21, 2011 at 6:53 am

    Nice planning! I need to sit down and get my master plan going too. Still have carrots in from last year that we have been eating all winter. Took the peas a month, but they are finally up.. Spinach, raddishes, and chard too. Planted some strawberries and they are starting off well. Our garden is still too wet to plough under.. Have my seed potatoes at the ready though!! Your garden looks great !!!

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  2. kristin @ going country on April 21, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I don’t “plan” in the sense that you mean it–there are no computer diagrams in my house, no–I just sort of assume that once the peas are out, something can go in. Collards or whatever.

    Obviously, I am not the world’s most organized gardener.

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  3. Grace on April 21, 2011 at 7:43 am

    My garden has been in for a while now. I should have my first peas in about a week. I was not very organized about it this year. I do plan to plant through the year and I’ve realized I will have to plant late season crops around some of the crops I already have in. Oh, well, I’ll know better next year.

    I’m not a novice gardener but it has been many, many years since I’ve had a large garden and I’ve made some of the classic newbie mistakes. Particularly the one about overreaching myself. I expect to be exhausted by the end of the main canning season, but I’ll be very happy when I’m eating my own, home grown food later this year.

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  4. Rhonda on April 21, 2011 at 8:06 am

    I think probably my favorite part of gardening is the planning. I love to get my graph paper out and sit on my bed at night while the rest of the house is asleep. It’s a fun little “me time” activity.

    SOOOOO … I PLANNED on growing chard and lettuce in one of my raised beds but thanks to the neighbors two rebel kitties, I’m going to have to replant. Those varmints dug it all up and turned that one bed into their litter box over the weekend. They’re the sweetest cats, but gee wiz! I’ve got to start over and this time I’m laying chicken wire over the top to keep those two in check. Crazy kitties … ha ha.

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  5. Melissa on April 21, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I planted Wando peas as well- they have just started to get blooms this week so should have some peas soon!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  6. Kathi on April 21, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I keep a litlle garden journal and in it I sketch out a plan for the vegetable garden…then people give me plants, I go to garden shops and get seduced into growing things I hadn’t planned and my whole plan goes out the window. Winter plannning and dreaming is half the fun even if I don’t follow my plan. Love your plan -very organized and ambitious! What winter crops do you follow your spring ones with? I never know what to put in when my lettuce is done.

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    • Susy on April 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      We’ll do a round of fall brassicas (broccoli, fall cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower), and another crop of peas. We’ll also do a batch of fall leeks and greens like spinach & lettuce. We’ll do beets as well in these areas.

      The longer maturing fall crops will go in first after things like peas, so peas will most likely be followed by leeks, brussels sprouts, cabbage & other things that take longer to reach maturation. The short length to maturation crops will go in after things that come out later, these will be spinach, beets, & other greens.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Amy on April 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    We haven’t done multi-season veggie garden in the past, but I’d like to try a little bit this year. I’d also like to plant any beds we leave fallow with winter rye or some other cover crop. The weeding chore this year is mountainous, and anything that could help with that AND improve soil fertility would be a bonus for me.

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    • Susy on April 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      I planted a fall green manure mix in one of my fallow garden areas over the winter and it did great – the rye is probably about 18 inches tall right now.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Joshua on April 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I’ve always read that you never save over potatoes from year to year because of the risk of blight. Last year was the first year I grew potatoes and, sure enough this spring, I’m finding sprouts from ones I missed when I harvested. It hardly seems possible NOT to save over, at least a little bit. What are your thoughts on this? It seems kind of convenient that the suppliers of seed potatoes think its best if you buy fresh every year, but then again, I have read that once blight spores are in your soil, that’s pretty much it for your potatoes.

    Regarding your peas: do you inoculate them? Last year, my peas were doing great for about a month and then they all just turned yellow and died, and I think it was whatever that virus is that does that to peas that you’re supposed to inoculate against. I normally hate doing stuff like that and prefer to just let my garden grow as it will, but I got so few peas that it was hardly worth the trouble.

    Reply to Joshua's comment

    • Susy on April 21, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      I think as long as your potatoes are healthy you can save your own seed potatoes. It’s not like people haven’t done this for themselves for years anyways. If you have disease issues in your garden I’d recommend purchasing new. I have found through my limited experience (have only grown potatoes for 3 years) that my saved seed potatoes do better than purchased ones. I like knowing exactly where they came from.

      I don’t usually inoculate peas and don’t really have problems with them. Perhaps in a new garden area it might be beneficial, but if you’ve grown pean, beans or other legumes in your garden you don’t really have to worry about it.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • Jean in Mt on April 25, 2011 at 5:11 pm

      Hi, The inoculation for peas and beans is to help with nitrogen fixation, so the plants actually produce their own fertilizer. Whatever follows your peas and beans in the garden will get an extra nitrogen boost from the roots. One year I could actually see the nitrogen nodules on the roots, they looked like tiny cauliflowers.
      The inoculation is not any kind of disease protection. If your peas turn yellow and die again, I would take them to your county extension agent or send them to the Horticulture Dep’t at your State College of Agriculture to see wha happened. Spunds disappointing but it likely can be solved !!!

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  9. MAYBELLINE on April 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    You must be the Princess of Organization and your mother the Queen. I bow to you both.
    My garden works year round so whenever a space opens up, I plug in something that will work. Since I believe I will not start many more seeds inside, I can dedicate the winter months to better planning. Seeds sown in place just work best for me.

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  10. Marcia on April 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Since the growing season up here in Alberta is so short, planning is key for good yields, especially since I sow everything directly in the garden. I have my garden drawn up, moving heavy feeding crops around to where I grew the beans and peas last year and the potatoes far away from last year’s area since I had a problem with disease. I will also be planting rye to till into an area of the garden that hasn’t been planted in years and has not had much growing. I`ve had my mom`s old copy of Joy of Gardening on my bedside table for weeks and I`ve organised all my seeds in a neat little box like you did. All I need now is for spring to show up!! My fingers tingle at the very thought of gardening.

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  11. greener grass on April 21, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    I feel so delighted whenever I see gardens and lawns that are really taken care of.. Like they are landscaped and maintained beautifully to enhance the surroundings. Gardens are indeed a way to relieve stress, and they even catch the attention of passers by leaving some sort of appreciation to the owner of the garden. So basically, it is really essential to have someone help keep maintain the beauty of the garden if the owner is too busy to do it on his own. Remember that your surroundings can reflect who you are as a person, so much better to keep it clean and green. :)

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  12. Daedre Craig on April 22, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I don’t plan as well as I should. I usually end up with so many plants that need to go into the ground around the same time, that I cram everything in. Most of those plants stay in the ground for the whole season. The few spaces that do open up later on (i.e. bolted lettuce, areas where radishes or beets were pulled, etc.) I usually forget to replant. Considering my square footage of cultivated land is at a premium, you’d think I would do a better job of managing the space.

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  13. farmgal on April 23, 2011 at 7:54 am

    I plan, its half the fun for me, dreaming of what will be in the cold of winter, figuring out what was where, and what should come next, figuring out timing so that I can get one, two or even three crops on the same piece of land, I extend on both sides with hoop tunnels on certain places or I will interplants quick growing with slow growing, example, I just planted my spring potato’s and on the edge of the 3 foot wide free form raised beds, I planted my green onions, they will be pulled and used as needed, and by the time the potato plants need the space it will be there.

    I keep a farm book where I hand draw the different parts of the garden as they happen, keeping the really important parts, date planted, time till harvest, amount planted, cost of planting and typical yield vs what we got etc.

    I like your garden plot shown above, I might to see if DH can make one of those for a garden overview once everything is planted out.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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