Friday, June 5, 2009

this year's garden

My tiny plot has come a long way. When we moved into our small city home in 2005, there was a small rectangular garden containing poor, sandy soil and not much else. The first year we planted some tomatoes and a few herbs - with very little compost - and it fared pretty well. After a couple of such low intensity efforts, I decided to expand the garden by widening and lengthening the rectangle, nearly doubling the available space. We also started composting religiously, and the ROI was immediate - we could now grow numerous tomato plants, hot and mild peppers, eggplant, herbs, lettuces, green beans, and even some green cabbages on the shady side of the plot. I've also learned to do a bit of planning in early spring, to map out when I'll put each plant type in the ground.

By most accounts, the average "frost-free" date in the St. Paul area is May 15th. Since there are many hearty vegetables that can withstand a frost or two, I decided to get a handful of plants in the ground during the first week in May. These include:

  • leeks (4)
  • swiss chard (4)
  • arugula (4)
  • red lettuce (4)
  • broccoli (4)
In addition to these seedlings, four heirloom green leaf lettuces sprouted in the garden during this same week - apparently from seeds that I planted last summer. Very cool.

During the third week of May I planted a host of warm weather veggies, including some heirloom tomatoes and peppers.

  • "Northern Light" tomato (2): a fast growing, cold weather tomato that bears fruit in a mere 55 days (instead of 75-95 days for most types)
  • "Dad’s Sunset" tomato (2): a very large, meaty variety.
  • "Zapotec Pleated" tomato (1): a medium sized variety with irregularly shaped fruit.
  • "Marizol Purple" tomato (1): an old German heirloom that is well suited to cooler climates.
  • "Hungarian Paprika" pepper (2): the classic mild red pepper from central Europe.
  • "Georgia Flame" hot pepper (2): a small red face-melter.
  • "Purple Marconi" sweet pepper (2): a small Italian heirloom variety.
  • Japanese eggplant (2): the long, striped purple and white eggplant.
  • White cauliflower (2)
  • Sweet basil (2)
  • Rosemary (1)
  • Mother of Thyme (1): a broad leaf variety.
Wow. That's a total of 40 plants, and doesn't include my garden perennials: rhubarb, chives, and two clumps of asparagus (still too young). That's almost 300% more than the 15 plants I watered exactly two years ago. I think the only remaining plants to install are some green beans that I plan to string up along the back side of the garden.

Sadly, I still haven't been organized enough to grow all of my plants from seeds indoors, which is a huge goal of mine. Maybe next year... But I do plan to seed a midsummer round of lettuce and cabbages, which will serve as a late season harvest in September and October.

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