This year the garden has many more plants in containers than previous years. This is partly because some of them were living in the greenhouse all winter, or were started very early in the year, and also because I need to be able to move some of them around according to the weather conditions. Some of the plants, like the potatoes and tomatoes, will be moved to more shady areas when it’s hot, and more sunny areas if they survive into the fall, eventually being moved into the greenhouse for the winter. I currently have five tomato plants, four pepper plants, and two eggplants in containers. I’ve got six bags of potatoes and two of carrots. Beets are growing in long planters, as are lettuce and parsley. Calendula and chamomile are in small pots. Cardoon is also currently in a long planter, but I don’t think I’ll continue growing that. I find that I am not able to eat it and it can’t be juiced, so I don’t see much point in growing it. I think I will increase the number of bags of carrots. The carrots I have in bags now did very well, although they’re not very long. I think they need to be in soil that is several inches deeper than the desired length of the carrot. They seem to need a lot of room for the very slender end of the root, and the fatter part seems to stop growing when the narrow part runs out of room.
I’m growing 12 varieties of tomato this year in order to decide which varieties we like the best and which ones work the best here in this climate. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the Cherokee Purple does because it’s supposed to be particularly suited to the climate here. They say that it even continues to produce during the hottest part of the summer – something that the other varieties I’ve grown don’t do. I’m growing several varieties of black and brown tomatoes because we find that we like the black and brown varieties a lot. All of the tomatoes are heirloom varieties except for the Napa Grapes. That one is a hybrid, but I have not been able to find an heirloom or open pollination variety of grape tomato that we like anywhere near as much. These are the tomato varieties for this year:
Napa Grape, Cherokee Purple, Black Tomato, Black Crim, Black Cherry, Black Sea Man, Japanese Black Trifele, Neptune, Amish Paste, Manitoba, Sprite, Elfin, and Dad’s Barber Paste. The Black Sea Man, Sprite, and Elfin are all good varieties for growing in containers.
I’m only growing three kinds of peppers this year in the ground. I still have two Salsa Delight pepper plants that I’ve had in containers since last summer. I also have two pepper plants of some sweet variety growing in containers that I started in the late fall or early winter. I don’t think I’m going to keep those two plants. I haven’t been very impressed with them. Aside from the Salsa Delights, the only other hot variety I’m growing this year is Jalapeno. They are much more robust than other varieties and they are well suited to all of the uses we put them to, especially my homemade sriracha sauce. I have two varieties of sweet peppers this year. I’m growing Carmen peppers again because they are our favorite sweet pepper. They are the only other hybrid I’m growing in the nightshade family this year. And I’m trying out a variety of sweet pepper I’ve never tried before just to see what we think of it. It’s called, Douce D’Espagne.
This year I’m only growing two varieties of eggplant; Listada de Gandia and Pingtung Long. I’ve given up on the dark purple varieties. They all seem to have green flesh, and there’s something in the green flesh that irritates my throat.
In the herb garden, everything has come up except for the Marjoram, Basil, and Pineapple Sage. They may still come up, but no sign of them so far. I’m planting more basil, but I haven’t decided yet if I will replace the other two. A new addition to the herb garden this year is Coriander Thyme. It smells really amazing. I’m looking forward to seeing how it tastes in food. I hope to be able to add Holy Basil and maybe even Horehound this year as well. The Lemongrass did not survive the winter. I didn’t have room for it in the greenhouse. The Patchouli and Bay Laurel did survive in the greenhouse. The parsley in the herb garden came back during the winter, and even spread to the lawn. In fact, for a while there was more parsley growing in the lawn than in the herb garden.
There is no Jerusalem Artichoke in the garden this year, although I did plant some in the field out behind the house. Cabbages, Broccoli, and Cauliflower are all growing in straw bales. Snow and Sugar Snap peas are growing in the side garden. I hope to be able to put cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelons, and green beans in the back garden this year. That garden has been a big challenge because of the fire ants and poison ivy that seem to want to be there. I’m going to try to use orange oil on the fire ant mounds to see if that will persuade them to move somewhere out of the garden. I have made one exception to my rule of not using anything that is not organic in the garden. I am dipping the tips of the poison ivy vines into some poison ivy strength Roundup. I hate using it, but I don’t know what else to do at this time. I don’t know yet whether or not it will be effective, but it seems to be starting to work. I will be putting landscape cloth down over all of that garden (with a heavy layer of straw mulch), and just put openings where I want to put the hills and/or rows. I hope to one day put hugelkulture beds back there, but I don’t have time this year.
I will be building an arbor over part of the garden using 4x4x12 lumber and 2x4s, with the saplings I cut last year going over the top. I have male and female Kiwi vines for growing up the arbor. I also have Passionflower (Maypop) seeds, which I haven’t planted yet. They require temperatures to be fairly consistently in at least the 70s for germination, and it hasn’t been that consistently warm here yet. The Passionflower vines will also grow on the arbor. If I was going to be able to build the arbor over the whole side garden this year, I might grow cucumbers and melons on it, but I don’t expect to have enough room on it to do that this year.
I have six hanging baskets of strawberries (so far) on the front porch, and the blueberry bushes and fig tree are doing very well. We will have a good crop of blueberries this year. I’m growing Nasturtiums and Butterfly Asclepias for help with insect control (along with their natural beauty). I’ve started some green onions, but I haven’t decided yet where to put them. I also have several Globe Artichokes, which I haven’t decided where to put.
The bug garden this year will be much further back from the house, and will be in straw bale beds.
That’s all of the plans I have for now, but I expect that, as always, they will modify themselves and change over time.