Thursday, February 02, 2006

garden plans

It's Groundhog Day, the days are getting longer, and I'm starting to think gardening. I know I won't be able to get out and dig in the dirt for at least two more months, and I should hold out at least another month before starting seeds of any type, but I'm starting to make lists, sketch little diagrams, and compare varieties.

My goals for long-term additions include adding to the two blueberry bushes I planted last year, planting raspberry and lingonberry, and one or two Haralson apple trees. I miss making applesauce, and I have not found a source for apples nearby.

Instead of planting squash in raised beds this year, and having them ramble every which way, I am going to mound up compost from the horse pasture here and there on the acre that surrounds the raised beds, and plant the squash in hills.

I would like to try sweet potatoes this year, in a covered tunnel. I have seen photos in the local newspaper of huge sweet potatoes grown nearby, so I know it can be done.

My plans for the other raised beds are as follows. Each of the raised beds is 4 x 8:

1 garlic (planted last fall, although I won't remember until spring which bed it's in!)
4 tomato (32 plants; I keep telling myself that will be enough, but I know I'll end up planting at least 2 more beds ;) )
1 broccoli/cauliflower
1 cabbage
1 greens/herbs
1 onion
1 carrot/parsnip
1 peppers (mostly jalapeno) with maybe some eggplant.
1 Daikon radish/rutabaga
1 sugar snap pea, followed by a successional planting of fall greens
2 or 3 bush beans, although that just does not seem like enough. Or maybe I'll hedge a bet and try the earliest variety of pole beans I can find in one bed.
oops...almost forgot cucumbers! And tomatilloes! And dill for the cucumbers! Better build some more beds.

Now for the task of figuring out seed orders; one catalog never has everything I want, but I hate ordering just one packet from a catalog, so I end up buying more...


madcapmum said...

Yes, always more raised beds! Looks like you and I have similar planting lists, and I'd be VERY interested to know how your sweet-potato project works out, and where you'll get your seeds.

Floridacracker said...

Very snow peas?

Deb said...

madcapmum- I'll probably get "Georgia Jet" slips--that's root cuttings--from one of my seed catalogs. As far as I know, you can't grow them from seed, at least not here. It's a total experiment, I'll be lucky if I get one meal of sweet potato fries, my favorite way of having them lately.

floridacracker--I've debated about peas, and much as I would love to have some snow peas I don't know if I want to dedicate the garden space to them. I haven't grown peas in years, so again it will be a learning experience, and sugar snaps are an easy bet.

Dan Trabue said...

It's that time...your eager joy is contagious.

On an unrelated note, I see where Mike Compton and a few others are going to be conducting a Bill Monroe style mandolin weekend here in Kentucky in September. At Bill Monroe's homestead in Rosine, KY! Cool, huh?


ouch! not so cool. I shan't be going, unfortunately.

clairesgarden said...

be careful! those seed catalogues suck you right in and dont let go until you get your check book out!

Eleutheros said...


Get a couple of sweet potatoes of your liking and

1) Cut them in half lenghwise
or else
2) Leave them whole

And put them in some damp sand or peat, whole ones half buried way lying on their side or the cut in half ones cut side down just barely in the sand or peat. (That is, they will look the same when they are planted).

Keep the warm and moist - warm by putting them above the refrigerator and moist by tying them up in a plastic bag until they sprout.

They will set out roots and sprouts all along the perimeter at the soil line. Take them out of the bag at first sign of growth.

By spring each sweetpotato will h ave set on a dozen or more root buds with leaves. Carefully cut them or snap them off the tuber and plant them.

They come off more easily from the cut in half seed potato.

I'm quite a bit south of you and I'm going to leave the sweet potatoes in the green house all summer this year. Even this far south they are iffy.

If you plant them right on a compost heap or manure pile, they will do all the better as it will supply some heat like a hot bed. Covering them with a plastic cloche will also let them experience more heat than they'd get on their own.

Deb said...

Thanks for the tips, Eleutheros. I didn't develop an appreciation for sweet potatoes until I realized they could be served without being "candied" with little marshmallows on the top! Oh the steps people take to ruin perfectly good food...

Eleutheros said...

Exactly. It's a Southern thing, but thank the gods it's not an Appalachian thing. In the deep South they put sugar in everything, and I mean everything ... green beans, mashed potatoes, boiled caggage, everything! A sweet potato is already so sweet you can hardly eat it.

The epitome has to be a recipe for sugared parsnips! Yuck! They already taste like slightly earthy sugar cubes, glazed, dipped in honey, and rolled in sugar again.

Just a in your above post about the house, I love rutabagas but a processing plant? What does one do to a rutabaga to process it? No, wait, I don't want to know.

Sweet potatoes need only very slight baking (much less than an "Irish" potato) and then just some butter and it's a fine finger food in its own wraper. Rivaled only by sweet potato French fries.

Deb said...

Sweet potato favorite way of cooking them! A little cumin seems to really complement the flavor.

As I read the history more, I guess it was more of a warehouse for shipping that a processing plant. Quoting a local history book, "In the 1950's three hundred train car loads of from 20 to 40 tons each were shipped out annually; this was a quarter of the nation's crop." Wow, that's a lot of rutabagas. Potatoes were an important crop, and there was a pickle plant in Bruno, eight miles away along the tracks. In today's farm economy, no one would think it profitable to grow any of that here, and yet it was done in the past. I think maybe the soil provides what you need, if you treat it right.