Onion Planting

It is too rainy out today to be gardening, but during the break last weekend, I finally got my onions planted.  This year we added Vidalias to the experiment in addition to White and Red onions.  The Vidalias come as sprouted plants, so there is instant satisfaction in planting rows of them.

We also raised the beds a bit this year, as lsat year saw us battling a bit of rot. With all the rain, I figured a higher bed could not hurt. I spaced the beds very wide, so we can grow some quick crops like radishes and lettuce in between.

 The White and Red onions come as small bulbs, and they get planted about 2 inches down in the middle of the beds. While I hand spade planted each of the baby Vidalia plants ( which are spaced about twice as far apart as the bulbs), it is easier to hoe out a small trench, lay in the onions at 2-3 inches apart and then cover them up. 
At the end of the day, I ended up with 10 beautiful rows  of onions. Now to watch them grown…

Planting Season Begins

Although I had previously planted a row of spinach and some peas, today the planting season started full force. We gathered the troops and planted the followin

4.5 12′ rows of Kennebec potato
3 12′ rows of Purple Haze potato
3 12′ rows of Yukon gold potato
2 10′ rows of Red Norland potato ( planted closer for early potato)
2 12′ rows of yellow onion
10 10′ rows of yellow/white/red onions
1 20′ row green beans
3 8′ rows of peas
1 20′ row of snow peas ( makes a second row)
1 8′ row of spinach ( makes a second row)
1 8′ row of rainbow carrots
2 8′ rows kohlrabi
16 cloves of garlic

This is just the beginning… as the season progresses, there will be tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, chard, lettuce, herbs, kale and other deliciousness.

It is so nice to have the growing season started again…

Meet the Gardens

The last couple of weeks have been punctuated with intermittent flurries of planting, and the gardens are starting to green. Here at Sycamore House, we have three vegetable gardens.

The Driveway Garden is our oldest vegetable garden, on the southeast side of the house next to the..( wait for it)…driveway.

It gets great sunlight, but it is fairly low lying and root veggies do terribly in this spot. The very first year of this garden, we grew great radish plants that had no radishes at all. We work against the tendency to mud when it rains by building up beds. We grew great pumpkins here for several years before a miserably failed experimental move last year, so we are moving them back here this year. This year the garden has 7 tomato plants ( one of which is not yet caged) and four rows for peas and snowpeas. It will have cucumbers, summer squash, spinach, zuchinni, greenbeans, and tbd. We tried an experimen tthis year, planting our tomato plants a little earlier than normal. We wrapped the tomato cages (which the Ogre created from cattle panel)in a packing/saran type plastic to make mini greenhouses. Our very early tomato planting was a serious failure ( since it snowed the very next day..) but planting right at the border between April/May ( two weeks earlier than normal) looks like it may succeed and will give us some EarlyGirl tomatoes by mid June. With more room for tomatoes this year, we are experimenting with several different heirloom varieties. We have planted Mountain Pride, German queen and yellow pear, along with classic Early Girl, beefstake, golden and our new favorite Mr. Stripey , we always include grape and husky cherry. I am looking forwardto experimenting and finding some new favorite tastes and textures as well as having a bounty to can for the winter. The failure ofroot crops in this first location convinced us to an additional garden last year. It did so well with root crops that we dedicated it entirely to root crops- onions ( red and yellow), potatoes (red and golden) and sweet potatoes. The onions are already sprouting nicelyand the potatoes are secretly rooting under ground,although I have not seen any sprouts from them yet. ( fingers crossed) We have some additional late season potatoes that we will plant in the backyard garden as an experiment later this summer. It is too soon to plant sweet potatoes, buttheplants are on order and should be arriving in a week or so. In the meantime, we have prepped the bed for the plants and we re growing an early crop of spinach in the space. Last year Ogre added a small tomato plot in the backyard near the fence, but even with that, weran out of tomatoes well before the winter was over. This year he expanded thatplot into a full fledged backyard garden that doubles our gardening space. This garden is growing 10 tomato plants, as well as avariety of veggies. So far we have planted a variety of peppers ( sweet and hot), green beans, leeks, corn, lettuce, kohlrabi, artichokes, brussel sprouts and radishes. This garden will get some late crop corn, second crop green beans, lettuce through the whole season, some potatoes and some sweet potatoes. I am excited about all of the newthings we are getting to try because of the additional space. We are already getting lettuce and kohlrabi sprouts and I am expecting the first ofthe greenbeans sprouts to pop any day. I would love to hear if you are planting a garden andwhat you love to grow and feed your family.

Early garden start

The Ogre and I spent all day yesterday getting an early start to the garden. It is an awesome feeling to be on time this year and know that we are starting out a step ahead ( that advantage will soon be lost and I will be playing catchup, never fear).

We expanded garden space this year, turning what used to be the tomato plot into a full sized garden and deciding to spread out tomatoes- both within and between gardens. Yesterday we got our long growing root crops ( onions and potatoes) planted, along with some experimental early greens.

We planted 4 double rows of onions ( 2 red and 2 yellow) which if they grow well will yield about 200 onions. That should almost get us through the next year without buying store onions. I will be happy if we get enough to take us 6 months. We also planted 8 ( 11 foot long) mounds of potatoes ( red and yukon gold). This is the part that if they grow well, could scare me come harvest time. One row of each will be dug up early for baby potatoes and eaten duing the summer. We will replant that row for a late harvest row with the few seed potatoes we set back. We already have plans for a summertime renovation of the pump room downstairs to use as a modified root cellar, and if the potatoes grow well, we will need it.

The space for sweet poatoes is prepped, but waiting. Those get planted as plants and it is way too early to get them growing. In their space, I am running an early greens experiment and planted a row of spinach. If we manage to be done with hard freezes, we could be eating fresh spinach in less than a month and it should get to the end of its cycle about the time to plant the sweet potatoes. If it does freeze, we will just re-plant in another spot . Luckily, a single packet of seeds is not a great loss. Additionally, I planted 2 rows of peas and a row of sugar snaps. Again, a risk, since we could get an early freeze, but a small loss if we do. If we manage to slide through without bad freezes, we will be harvesting at memorial day. The fencing where the peas get planted will get overgrown by cucumbers later in the summer. The Ogre tried a new double fence arrangement which should support and make the cucumbers easier to harvest and contain.

An even better memorial day treat may come from an experiment that the Orge originated. He created three modified cold frames by wrap 3 of our 16 tomato frames with clear plastic and we early planted 3 plants- a Mr. Stripey, an Early Girl and a Cherry Tomato. I have my fingers crossed on this one, because if it works, we could have fresh tomatoes by memorial day or shortly after, instead of waiting until July 4. An extra month of tomatoes to eat is wonderful, but even better, if it works, we will do at least half of the tomato plants that way and will have extras to can/freeze as well.


I picked tomatoes over lunch on TwitPic

It is the time of year when the harvest of vegies makes you feel like you could eat forever and still have food. It has been weeks since I have been to the grocery, but it is only today when I finally feel like I need to go pick up some bread and milk and odds and ends.

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As I write this, the roma tomatoes are on the stove, simmering into a mess that will become tomatoe/spaghetti sauce and the rest of the tomatoes await canning tomorrow. Some will get canned plain, but some will become cilantro tomatoes for a summer delight later when the snow is piled high.

Tomorrow will be a busy day, there is swiss chard and kale to pick and freeze, pickles to be made and late summer seeds to be sown… now all we need is just a bit of rain…