Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Garden Plot, A Visual Aid

You'll probably have to click on this image to open it separately and zoom in to read which veggies are where.

Actual measurements of our garden plot revealed that the space was not quite a full 20x30, so we shuffled a couple of items and alotted slightly less space to the walking areas, but this plan will give you the general layout of our spot in the community garden.  You'll see that the sprawling items, like cucumbers, melons and squash, have about 9 square feet for each vine to fill, except for a few of the plants that will produce one- to three-pound fruit—Len built vertical frames for those guys to climb, saving some ground space.  Most of the plants in the center will be planted in clusters of four, in little 2x2 squares. Those we will transplant into the garden plot after they have sprouted and grown into hardy little seedlings indoors. The beans, beets, turnips and radishes, ranging from 9 to 16 seeds per square foot, will be planted in stages, about every three weeks, so that we can harvest them over a period, instead of pulling up about 50 radishes all at once.

I also plan to plant some nasturtiums and dill here and there among the squash.  And marigolds among the tomatoes.

The items you don't see on the map—herbs, lettuce, kale, spinach, chard, onions—are planted in a space about 4x7 next to the strawberries in the front yard.  I'm worried about those seeds.  They seem awfully slow to start.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Garden Grab Bag

This year, our edible garden was a surprise, even to us. 

We were lucky enough to find out about Seeds of Change's Sowing Millions Project just before they gave away all 100 million seeds, so we placed two orders for 25 packets of certified organic seeds (two orders so we could share with our moms, not so we could hog them all for ourselves!).  The shipping cost was all we had to pay for the orders and was $4.99 each.  We didn't get to choose what plants we wanted or even get to see a list of the kinds of seeds they giving away; Seeds of Change would just send us a random variety.  It was exciting, kind of like waiting for Christmas morning.  But, we also had to wait to plan the garden until we found out what sorts of seeds we would get.  In other words, we waited impatiently for about three and a half weeks.

Then the seeds arrived.  So many different veggies to grow!  Some people complained on the Seeds of Change Facebook page that they received lots of flowers and hardly any vegetables.  Our packages fortuitously contained mostly vegetables, with only six envelopes of ornamental plants, three of which were marigolds—very useful in the vegetable garden.  We did receive duplicates of some things, even quadruplets of the okra and pumpkins, but I think that was a good thing because it made it easier to share the seeds with our moms and because, let's face it, I don't think we're quite ready to plant, grow, and harvest 50 kinds of vegetables.  I should say, 50 new kinds of vegetables, because when I list out all of our seeds below, you'll see the count is actually around 50.

So, the produce we will eat this summer and fall has already been determined—mostly by our surprise assortment from Seeds of Change, as well as the seeds we gathered or had leftover from last year, and just a few new purchases. Here's the list:

Lemon Basil, harvested seeds from aunt
Sweet Basil, leftover seeds
Cherokee Wax Bush Bean, Seeds of Change
Green Snap Bush Bean, leftover packet
Golden Lumen Wax Bush Bean, Seeds of Change
Sonoran Gold Bush Tepary Bean (traditional), Seeds of Change
Magpie Bush Snap Bean (heirloom), Seeds of Change
Yellow Intermediate Mangel Beet (heirloom), Seeds of Change
Witerbi Mangold Chard, Seeds of Change
Chives, leftover seeds
Cilantro, harvested seeds
Sweet Corn, leftover seeds
Upland Cress, Seeds of Change
Satsuki Madori Cucumber (rare), Seeds of Change
Sumter Cucumber, leftover seeds
Bush Champion Cucumber, Seeds of Change
Mammoth Dill, new purchase
Turkish Orange Eggplant (heirloom), Seeds of Change
Florence Fennel (heirloom), Seeds of Change
Vates Blue Curled Kale, Seeds of Change
Red Russian Kale, Seeds of Change
Red Oak Lettuce, Seeds of Change
Butter Crunch Lettuce, leftover seeds from Mom
Romaine Lettuce, leftover seeds from Mom
Eel River Muskmelon, Seeds of Change
Crimson Sweet Watermelon, leftover seeds
Sweet Dakota Rose Watermelon (heirloom), Seeds of Change
Mammoth Spineless Okra, Seeds of Change
White Lisbon Bunching Onion, Seeds of Change
Parsley, leftover seeds
New Mexican Green Chile, leftover seeds
Bell Pepper, leftover seeds
JalapeƱo, leftover seeds
Jack-o-Lite Pumpkin, Seeds of Change
Pie Pumpkin, harvested seeds
Calabaza, harvested seeds
Round Black Spanish Radish (heirloom), Seeds of Change
Bloomsdale Long-Standing Spinach, leftover seeds from Mom
Hokkaido Stella Blue Squash, Seeds of Change
Butternut Squash, harvested seeds
Gold Nugget Squash, Seeds of Change
Zeppelin Delicata Squash, Seeds of Change
Sweet Dumpling Squash, Seeds of Change
Cherry Tomato, leftover seeds
Yellow Pear Tomato (heirloom), leftover seeds
Oregon Spring Tomato, new purchase
Gold Ball Turnip (heirloom), Seeds of Change
Black Beauty Zucchini, Seeds of Change
Not to mention the strawberries, raspberries, and shallots always growing in our yard.

Also, we'll be mixing these plants into the garden as a natural repellent for harmful insects like squash bugs: two types of marigolds (Seeds of Change),  the dill already mentioned above, catnip (easily found wild around here), and two types of nasturtiums (new purchase).  We will let you know just how well this approach works.

Even with the 20x30 plot in the community garden and the 4x10 area in our front yard, it seems like we have a lot to cram into our gardening space, and we do.  But we're employing some of Mel Bartholomew's Square-Foot Gardening techniques, including some vertical gardening for the cucumbers and smaller winter squash.  More about that in another post.  Also to come: a map of our garden.

I'll finish up with a quick summary of what we planted on Saturday (May 7).  Sowed directly in the ground: both kinds of kale, all of the kinds of lettuce, spinach, cress, fennel, chives, both kinds of basil, turnips, beets, radishes, green snap bush beans, and cherokee wax bush beans.  Started indoors: all three kinds of tomatoes, all three kinds of peppers/chiles, both kinds of marigolds, eggplant, and parsley.

Now, to keep track of all of this is a garden journal...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Weird Popcorn

This snack is adapted from Martha Stewart's Chili-Lime Popcorn.  It got its new name when Len was organizing our recipes, typing up ones that were handwritten or torn out of magazines, and he thought this one sounded, well, weird.  It's actually very tasty, if you ask me.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil*
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 1/4 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 large lime wedge

Pop the popcorn in the oil.* Meanwhile, mix the chili powder, cumin, and lime zest.  When the popcorn is done, sprinkle the seasonings all over it and toss to coat.  Then squeeze juice from the lime wedge all over the popcorn.  Serve immediately.

The chili powder, cumin, and lime zest give the popcorn a southwestern flavor, a refreshing alternative to my beloved, everyday butter-and-salt combo.  You eat popcorn everyday, right?  The lime juice gives each kernel a drop of moisture with a mouth feel akin to butter, but not greasy and with a tang that completely eliminates the need for salt.  At least, that's what I think.  Len thinks it's weird.

*You could air pop your popcorn instead, but you'll still need to toss it with about a tablespoon of oil to help the seasonings stick.