Let me respond my way, construct my theme
From particles of a different dream,
Be it illusion as well it may.
I would sooner hope and believe
Than dig for my living life a present grave.
- I still will sing with credence and with passion
In a new fashion
That I will believe in April while I live.
I will believe in Spring,
That custom of the year, so frail, so brave,
Custom without a loss of mystery.

Vita Sackville-West, The Garden, 1946

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Extreme Companion Planting

My next door neighbor has lost her garden, so I offered to put her plants in an open bed.  I intended to plant beans, but it was more important to get her homeless overgrown seedlings in the ground.
I had one 4x4 bed available, so in went 2 zucchini, 2 broccoli, 2 tomatoes, 7 cucumbers, and 2 romaine lettuce.  After I'd finished, that looked really sparse and unattractive, so I spruced it up with 4 marigolds and 4 zinnias.  Now it looks less... barren.
She came over the other night to take a look and seemed really surprised that I put all those things in the bed together.  She says that "in the old days" they only planted things together...
Yep, monoculture.  One box of cukes, one of tomatoes, one of zucchini...
So here's an average planting box in my garden:

This is a 4x8 raised bed - I've got 7 this size.  The far end is garlic, which will probably come out in the next 1-2 weeks, if it ever stops raining.  The garlic has self seeded cleome and dill mixed in.  Next comes some red curly kale, then eggplant, peppers, zucchini, all interplanted with petunias, marigolds, salvia, zinnias, and lemon balm.  This bed is not as full as some of the others...
I've tried to coordinate all these things so that vegetables that like each other are close and those that don't are separated.  My two main guides have been Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cunningham and The Complete Guide to Companion Planting by Dale Mayer.  And the internet.  Lots of internet.
Who knows how it will all turn out!  Now I know that I made a big mistake in the past by putting all my root vegetables together - radishes are in the cabbage family!  Who knew?
(BTW, I did get Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte, but I did not like it at all.  Maybe just me, but it wasn't what I expected.)
And radishes are the only thing I didn't quite get right this year.  I painted myself into a corner and didn't have space with things that like radishes.  Oh, well.  It's a learning experience.
So after I showed my neighbor a few of my beds and explained the theory, she seemed much more comfortable.  Of course, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, or the cucumbers, in this case.  We'll see how they do!
I think I see my friendly rabbits in the yard, waiting to be fed.  Time to feed the bunnies!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Swiss Chard Recipes

It's Swiss Chard season again!  Actually Swiss Chard is much more than a season.  If I did everything right (which is unlikely) I'd probably have Chard for about 9 months of the year.

Of course, along with the start of the growing season comes the annual "What do we do with all this chard?" problem.  I probably need a few more recipes queued up.

  1. Swiss Chard with Olive Oil and Garlic: Big pot with a tight fitting lid, olive oil in the bottom, chopped garlic, add chopped chard stems, chiffonade and add leaves, close lid, cook on high heat until it steams/sautes/braises.
  2. Swiss Chard and Red Lentil Curry: Found on the internet somewhere, a nice spicy curry with red lentils, swiss chard, and chick peas.  Serve over rice.
  3. Swiss Chard Enchiladas: Recipe from Fran McDaniel, my photocopy looks torn from a newspaper.  One pot: cook chopped chard. Second pot: make a roux, melt in cheddar cheese. Mix the two together, roll inside a tortilla, put in a baking dish, cover with sauce, bake for 25 minutes at 375.  The original recipe said cover with salsa, but I use Green Enchilada Sauce and I put a pinch of red pepper in my roux.

I've got a new recipe for Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup (ok, I've got 4 or 5 recipes and I'm going to make one out of them) that I haven't tried yet.  It seems hard to make a soup like that when the temperature is above 80...
The other reason I grow Swiss Chard is because it is so lovely to look at.  I'm really thrilled with the beauty of the leaves and stems.  I wandered all over my garden the other morning taking closeup shots of  vegetables and the chard ones were dramatic and lush.  The red kale looks good too, but that's for another day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

2011 Seed List

Type  Item Variety Source
Flower Alcea Nigra Seed Saver's Exchange
Flower Alcea Outhouse Mix Seed Saver's Exchange
Flower Alyssum Carpet of Snow Ferry Morse
Flower Baptisia Wild Blue Indigo Kitchen Garden Seeds
Flower Cleome Mix Seed Saver's Exchange
Flower Cleome Spider Flower Hudson Valley Seed Library
Flower Cleome Four Queens Mix Ferry Morse
Flower Cosmos Picotee Seeds of Change
Flower Cosmos Seashell Mix Kitchen Garden Seeds
Flower Four O'Clock Mix Ferry Morse
Flower Malva Zebrina Seed Saver's Exchange
Flower Marigold Petite Mix Ferry Morse
Flower Marigold Dwarf Bolero Ferry Morse
Flower Marigold French Brocade Seeds of Change
Flower Nicotiana Perfect Mix Seed Saver's Exchange
Flower Poppy California Mix Seed Saver's Exchange
Flower Poppy Blue Seed Saver's Exchange
Flower Scabiosa Black Knight Johnny's
Flower Sunflower Moulin Rouge Johnny's
Flower Sunflower Butter Cream Johnny's
Flower Sunflower Strawberry Blonde Johnny's
Flower Sunflower Chocolate Johnny's
Flower Sunflower Velvet Queen Johnny's
Flower Sunflower Ring of Fire Johnny's
Flower Sunflower Mix Seed Saver's Exchange
Flower Sunflower Velvet Queen Hudson Valley Seed Library
Flower Sunflower Chianti Burpee
Flower Sunflower Big Blush Burpee
Flower Sunflower Summer Evening Mix Burpee
Flower Sunflower Evening Sun Seeds of Change
Flower Sunflower Summer Cutting Garden Mix Burpee
Flower Sweet Pea Grandiflora Mix Seed Saver's Exchange
Flower Viola Penny All Season Mix Johnny's
Flower Viola Bowles' Black Seed Saver's Exchange
Flower Zinnia Queen Red Lime Johnny's
Flower Zinnia Giant Dahlia Flowered Mix Johnny's
Flower Zinnia Gift Hudson Valley Seed Library
Flower Zinnia Zahara Coral Rose Burpee
Flower Zinnia Candy Cane Red on White Burpee
Herb  Basil Italian Large Leaf Johnny's
Herb  Borage Borage Hudson Valley Seed Library
Herb  Cilantro Cilantro Burpee
Herb  Cumin Cumin Seed Saver's Exchange
Herb  Parsley Gourmet Mix Cook's Garden
Herb  Poppy Pepperbox Breadseed Kitchen Garden Seeds
Herb  Rosemary Rosemary Burpee
Vegetable Artichoke Imperial Star Kitchen Garden Seeds
Vegetable Bean Hank's X-tra Special Baking Hudson Valley Seed Library
Vegetable Bean Calypso Seed Saver's Exchange
Vegetable Bean Christmas Lima Seed Saver's Exchange
Vegetable Bean Aztec Half-Runner Seeds of Change
Vegetable Bean Dragon's Tongue Hudson Valley Seed Library
Vegetable Bean Santa Anna Pole Ferry Morse
Vegetable Bean Long Zi Ferry Morse
Vegetable Beet Cook's Custom Mix Cook's Garden
Vegetable Cabbage Super Red 80 F1 Johnny's
Vegetable Cabbage Gonzales F1 Johnny's
Vegetable Cardoon Cardoon Seeds of Change
Vegetable Carrot Cook's Custom Mix Cook's Garden
Vegetable Cauliflower Rainbow Mix Kitchen Garden Seeds
Vegetable Cucumber Double Yield Hudson Valley Seed Library
Vegetable Cucumber Crystal Apple Seed Saver's Exchange
Vegetable Cucumber A&C Pickling Seed Saver's Exchange
Vegetable Cucumber Adam Seeds of Change
Vegetable Eggplant Mix Cook's Garden
Vegetable Gourd Birdhouse Ferry Morse
Vegetable Kohlrabi Winner F1 Johnny's
Vegetable Lettuce Summer Mix Cook's Garden
Vegetable Lettuce Ultimate Salad Bowl Hudson Valley Seed Library
Vegetable Pac Choi Red Choi F1 Johnny's
Vegetable Parsnip Harris Model Hudson Valley Seed Library
Vegetable Pea Sugar Ann Snap Hudson Valley Seed Library
Vegetable Pea, Snow Taichung Ferry Morse
Vegetable Pepper Doe Hill Hudson Valley Seed Library
Vegetable Pepper, Hot Mix Cook's Garden
Vegetable Pepper, Hot Poblano Ferry Morse
Vegetable Pepper, Sweet Mix Cook's Garden
Vegetable Radish Cook's Custom Mix Cook's Garden
Vegetable Radish Minowase Ferry Morse
Vegetable Rutabega Peg's Hudson Valley Seed Library
Vegetable Squash, Summer Costata Romanesca Zucchini Hudson Valley Seed Library
Vegetable Squash, Summer Bush Mix Cook's Garden
Vegetable Squash, Summer Early White Bush Scallop Ferry Morse
Vegetable Squash, Summer Cavili Zucchini Kitchen Garden Seeds
Vegetable Squash, Winter Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Hudson Valley Seed Library
Vegetable Squash, Winter Mini Magic Mix Cook's Garden
Vegetable Squash, Winter Medley Burpee
Vegetable Swiss Chard Rhubarb Red Seed Saver's Exchange
Vegetable Swiss Chard Golden Seeds of Change
Vegetable Tomato Goldie Hudson Valley Seed Library
Vegetable Tomato Marna Leone Hudson Valley Seed Library
Vegetable Tomato Heirloom Culinary Mix Cook's Garden
Vegetable Turnip Purple Top White Globe Johnny's

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Seed Companies

So I'm almost done ordering seeds.  So far I've placed my order with the Hudson Valley Seed Library, Cooks Garden, Seeds of Change, and Seed Saver's Exchange.  I still have Johnny's and Kitchen Garden Seeds to go.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Planning Time

I think I've procrastinated long enough - it's time to start planning the 2011 garden.
I've got my catalogs:

My favorite catalog is Bluestone Perennials, but that's not for vegetables, just flowers.

I'm thinking that the last frost date I'm going to use is April 30 for cold season crops and May 16 for warm season crops.  Perhaps thinking about it now will help... unless I forget about this completely.

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Kohlrabi
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Summer Squash
  • Swiss Chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnip
  • Zucchini
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Cleome
  • Cosmos
  • Four O'Clock
  • Marigold
  • Nasturtium
  • Nicotiana
  • Sun Flowers
  • Zinnia

Friday, July 9, 2010

My Favorite Websites

These are a few sources I really like for gardening supplies, seeds, etc.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wonderful Neuton

The Neuton lawnmower is a beautiful thing.  Jeff's out mowing right now and at the loudest it sounds like a vacuum cleaner.  It just hums along and with the bag attachment it is picking up lots of lovely grass for the compost bins.  We can usually mow our whole lawn twice on one charge.  It is a bit heavy to push up the little incline in our yard, but I think that's worth it for an electric lawn mower that doesn't cause so much pollution.  Plus, if you are me, getting a traditional gas mower going is somewhat impossible - I pull on that stupid thing and it just doesn't start.  With the Neuton you just squeeze the handle and if it gets away from me, I don't have to work to restart it.  Overall, I think it was a very good purchase.  How cool it is to mow the lawn and just smell cut grass!
Neuton Lawn Mowers