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Posts Tagged ‘plans’

It’s going to look like this*
Handrawn plans, since it's cold outside.

I am trying to keep my plans for next year reigned in, but it is proving to be almost impossible. I blame a number of things: the fact I have so many pots from last year, The Bountiful Container by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey (review to come), knowing I have a reliable nursery and farmers market at hand for quality supplies, my out of control imagination and predisposition towards daydreaming, my desire to have something happening in my garden in all seasons. What’s a girl to do?

Working from my aforementioned plans, I’ve decided to add carrots (probably Scarlet Nantes) to the snap peas (very likely Sugar Snap VP instead of a snow pea, but maybe both if I get out of control) and greens on my list of cool season crops. I want to expand this list greatly in years to come, but I’m new to extended season growing, so I’ll see how these go this year. As you can see, I also am adding strawberries to my list of summer plants. Fresh strawberries are one of my favorite things and they shouldn’t be a problem to grow, so I have to have at least one for snacking/topping my ice cream or cereal, but I secretly want about 5.

Deciding what to do for flowers has been a pain because there are so many neat ones out there. Like I mentioned before, I really want to grow morning glories because I have always loved them, but they tend to be more like a weed in the garden. I won’t have that problem in containers though and I am going to mix them with moonflowers so I’ll have one vine blooming in the morning and the other in the evening. Because I still need more flowering vines apparently I am very interested in having some purple Cathedral Bells take over the railing leading to my front door. I will probably have one more pot with a flower on it and right now that is looking like it will be a balloon flower, an Astra series one that will be small and compact.

I’m so excited! I know that it might be a bit of a challenge trying so many new things, but I’m ready.

*Obviously even if everything goes perfectly, all the plants will not peak at the same time like in my fanciful drawing. Moonflower and morning glory bloom at opposite times, so getting this kind of overlap would be impossible, not to mention my tomatoes should all be ready at different times.

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Last year I didn’t put too much thought towards the details of fertilizing because I was grappling with the basics of taking care of a deck full of vegetables, but in these slow months I can turn my attention to what I am feeding my plants. Everything I have read has been full of praise for worm castings. They have a wide range of nutrients that are in a form easily used by plants, they improve soil aeration, they add lots of biological activity to your soil, they help hold moisture, you can’t burn your plants with them through overuse, they are ph neutral… all very good things that chemical fertilizers can’t offer.

Another big plus for me is that they are actually practical for me to produce on my own. I hate going to the store to buy things if I can make it myself! I don’t have bats or chickens to poop for me, but in January I am starting a worm bin. I figure the starting cost will be about $20-30 depending on where I can find worms and should be almost free to upkeep.

I recently bought the classic Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System by Mary Appelhof which I have flipped through a little. I understand the basics and hopefully when I read it throughly I will find answers to all the questions I have:

  • How much castings will my worms make every month?
  • How long can I store harvested castings before using them?
  • How quickly will unused nutrients wash away in the soil?
  • Are they too rich in nitrogen that they will discourage blooming or is that not a concern?
  • What nutrients are they lacking?
  • Do they cause salt build up in the soil or is that a problem only with chemical fertilizers?

I’ll let you know how it goes and post a review of the book when I get things set up, but like I said, this isn’t happening until early 2009.

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I’ve been researching what I want to grow next summer and already have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to plant.

Tomatoes!

They grew so well this year and were so tasty, so I am going to make them the central crop for next year. Though the three varieties from this summer performed well, they were small fruited and less suited to my cooking needs. After lusting for all the fancy varieties at Laurel’s Heirloom Tomato Plants and TomatoFest, I decided on four varieties that I will start from seed next spring.

  • Sophie’s Choice – A very small, bushy plant that produces very early. Fruit are regular red globes, 8-10 oz.
  • San Marzano – Semi-determinate plant that make lots of red, plum-type tomatoes that ripen mid-season. These are good for sauces and tomato paste.
  • Black Sea Man – Satisfying my desire for a unique looking tomato, these are dark burgundy with green shoulders and are 12-16 oz a pop.
  • New Big Dwarf – This was the only beefsteak kind I saw that is a determinate, making is better suited for container growing. As with all tomatoes it’s size it ripens late in the season and gets 1 lb+, but the plant only gets about 2′ tall.

I’m very excited about this variety and I’ll let you know how they perform. If my ambitious seed-starting program doesn’t go very well I will get starters at the farmer’s market again, probably another Sweet 100, a Better Boy and an Early Girl and maybe something else. They aren’t as specially suited for container life, but I think they will be ok.

Peppers

No jalapeno and bells next year. I want poblanos for stuffing and pepperoncini for pickling. The poblanos should be no problem to find starters for, but I’ll have to grow the pepperoncini from seed.

Salad Greens

They grow while it’s still cool, so I’ll buy a long trough and have them both in the spring and fall. I imagine I’ll buy a mescalin seed mix and call it a day, but it is hard to resist the urge to try more interesting things like swiss chard and kale.

Snow Peas

Not sure what kind yet, but I can direct sow these also while it’s cool. I love these raw and in stir fry, but they can be expensive at the store and I hear they freeze well.

Flowers

I’m the most undecided here. I’m pretty sure I want morning glories to trellis up the dividing wall between our deck and our neighbors, maybe poppies, maybe some columbine. I will probably decide on a whim at the last second depending on the selection.

Herbs

Basil again, for sure. And probably catnip for the cats and maybe some spearmint? I’d do more, but space is at a prime.

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