Mary's Veggie Garden

December 31, 2012

Garden Goals: 2013

Filed under: Gardening,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 5:00 pm
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What are your goals in growing a vegetable garden? Feeding your family from spring to fall? Having tasty, super fresh produce available every day? Storing food for the winter? Feeding friends?

If you receive seed catalogs by mail, you may be tempted to curl up in a comfy chair with the stack of catalogs to plan an enormous garden. But is an enormous garden what you really want in mid-summer, when the weeds are overtaking the veggies and the kids complain they don’t like peppers?

My goal is to grow flavorful, organic vegetables for my family. I also want to supply our household vegetables during most of the year. This means I grow what we eat, growing small quantities and sometimes making two plantings several weeks apart. I plant from April through mid-August and harvest from mid-May through December. We eat from the garden, freezer or root cellar year round.

Although I greatly enjoy gardening, especially harvest, I also enjoy other activities so I don’t want my garden to consume my life. I look for varieties that are very productive and easy to grow. These requirements often translate to disease resistant .

I enjoy trying new things so I often try a new variety along with dependable old favorites. Trialing a new, disease resistant variety lets me evaluate taste, yield, and ease of growing. Maybe it won’t pass the taste test, but maybe I’ll discover a new favorite.

How do I translate these goals into a garden plan?  For  2013 I’m planning to garden at home and in my 20’x40′ plot in the community gardens. I’ll make small changes to the amounts I plant, add some new varieties and eliminate some old varieties.

In 2013 I’ll plant fewer tomatoes because we are still using tomatoes canned in 2011. I’m also planning to plant the tomatoes in a single row in a 3′ wide bed so I can reach all sides of every plant making them easier to harvest and maintain. I thought I could plant two rows in a 4′ wide bed in a full sun garden but that close spacing didn’t work so well when it came to harvesting cherry tomatoes from the center of the bed or when dealing with fungal diseases.

I may stop trying to grow melons. Some years I’ve had good cantaloupe crops but they all ripen in a short two-week period and I’ve never found a variety whose flavor we really like that also does well. I can use the freed up space to widen my paths, making the garden easier to negotiate.

For new varieties I’m trying Jasper, a new small red cherry tomato and a 2013 All America Selection. Jasper is resistant to late blight and several other fungal diseases and sounds delicious – though tiny. The catalog says it is chewy so I’m hoping the skin is not too tough. I’m thinking I’ll use Jasper like Sungold – fresh or oven roasted.

I’m also buying seed for a butternut squash resistant to powdery mildew. I hate to spray, even though I use an organic spray so a PM resistant variety will reduce that work and with healthy plants the yield should be higher. By the way, all butternuts are resistant to squash vine borers. For the curious – in 2012 I sprayed with a 10% milk in water solution.  It works OK but, as with any spray, you must treat  often to cover new growth. The squash plants totally fill an area 10’x10′ making it very difficult to get in for good spray coverage.

I’m also ordering pepper seed that is resistant to both bacterial spot (bad at the community gardens) and phytophthera, which may be the disease that killed all my plants at home. I have my fingers crossed that the varieties will also taste good.

The assortment of Asian greens available in the seed catalogs is getting bigger every year. This year I’m trying a Michili cabbage, which is described as very mild and tender – good for salads. Plus it stores a long time in the refrigerator, making it good for winter use. I’m also considering a couple of others – but must remember not to go overboard.

These changes should make my garden easier to maintain, and provide more variety for late spring and late fall harvests.

Now is the time to consider your gardening goals and make changes. With a well thought out plan you can plant with confidence come spring.

Did I meet my garden goals in 2012? I harvested 820 pounds of produce over the year. I still have lots of fresh (stored in the root cellar), frozen or canned vegetables so we are eating from the garden every day.  I may have too much stored.  I’ll see what is left in March and adjust what I plant if I have a lot left. The only vegetables we are buying are garlic, mushrooms and broccoli. I’m still working out the timing for a fall broccoli crop.

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6 Comments »

  1. I’m so impressed with your garden bounty and the meticulous record keeping.

    Happy New Year from my garden to yours.

    Comment by Lisa — December 31, 2012 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

  2. 820 pounds harvested – WOW! Next year I may weigh my harvest – I’d be curious to see how much there is (guess I don’t get to count everything that the deer, rabbits, chipmunks and groundhogs ate, do I? We mostly ate our veggies as we harvested them during the summer, though I do still have 2 onions and some of the sweet potatoes in storage. Think I will try gowing the butternut squash that you mentioned next year – I like the idea of growing the one that’s resistant to powdery mildew – which one is it?

    Comment by Ginny — December 31, 2012 @ 10:29 pm | Reply

    • No, you don’t get to count what the critters eat – which was why my 4 Sungold plants at home produced as much as one of the plants at Vassar Farm. The chipmunks got the rest.

      Johnny’s has two powdery mildew resistant butternuts Metro (which did great in the EL two years ago) and JWS6823 (a new one). Harris Seeds carries Butterfly. There are also PMR resistant acorns, Honey Bear (AAS selection available in many catalogs) and Tiptop (Johnnys) and Royal Ace (Harris) but acorns can get squash borers.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — January 1, 2013 @ 9:25 am | Reply

      • Thanks for the info…The Metro butternut sounds good – I’ll probably try growing that this year. I really like the butternuts and have a new hearty veggie soup recipe that we like that calls for a butternut, along with other veggies.

        Comment by Ginny — January 1, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

  3. I am SO impressed by 820 lbs of bounty. I plan to weigh my veggies and fruits this year. The metro butternut squash sounds good so I may try growing it. I am taking your veggie class this spring and have learned lots and plan to follow your blog. Thanks!

    Comment by sharon cherico — March 15, 2013 @ 3:10 pm | Reply


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