This is the last harvest of the year. No, this is. Actually, there’s one more.

I thought this was pretty much the last of the garden produce, aside from the odd tomato (and then the lemongrass stalks I harvested while transplanting the plants into indoor pots for the winter):

october-harvest

But when we cleaned up the tomato bed in late October, we ended gleaned plenty more, some with more appealing looks than others, plus a few more peppers:

tomato-gleaning

The fall peas, planted in August, were still there, and we’d noticed the white flowers. But we’d given up on any actual pods. Guess the Brit planted too late, we said. No bees around to pollinate, we decided.

november-pea-flowers

And then we spotted this, while mulching leaves for the compost bin. I think there may be about three pods.

november-pea-pod

Lesson learned. Plant in July if there is room in the bed. Otherwise don’t bother.

Spring Planting

A post from back in March that I never posted, probably because I had no photo handy. And then I forgot. Now we’re eating the peas. Good thing our four-year-old neighbor has his own, or he’d be eating ours too!

St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, so of course we followed that rule of thumb and got some peas in the ground.

But not that even something seemingly this simple can be free of a bit of drama: We gave up on the green plastic trellis-netting we bought in France two years ago that seemed impossible not to tangle and bought some made of nylon string netting. But this one never seemed to lay flat properly, as if somehow a link got missed. The Brit tried this way and that, but it  always puckered up toward one end. In the end, we decided we’d live with it–we still had room enough for two trellises that together will support four rows of peas.

Then it was down to the basement to start some seeds under the light. I know I vowed to only have one bed of tomato plants this year, so maybe eight plants, (plus a storage container, earth-box style). But when I started sorting out the tomato seeds, there were so many varieties and it was just too hard to narrow down the list. So I’ve got 12 varieties in pots, and two or three seeds per pot. Ramapo, Lynn’s beefsteak, black cherry, brandywine, ground cherry, those orange golf balls… If they all germinate, I will need to find good homes for so many plants! And I’ll still have to pass on a few varieties, or settle for one of each and maybe claim a bigger bed. Of course, I need to keep straight which is which. We’ve used permanent ink on popsicle sticks for each pot … but now the plastic lid over won’t fit!

Plotting the vegetable garden

We’ve been a bit slow in getting out the spreadsheet (really high-tech graph paper) and figuring out what will go in each square foot of the raised beds and how many crops we can rotate through each square if we’re really organized and diligent. (I was a bit ambitious last year.) Once again, we’re following the square-foot gardening method, planting more intensively per foot and replacing vegetables with others as they’re harvested. As usual, it’s a bit of a juggling act.

Peas were a big hit in 2008; three rows of them, then, alternating with the beans we also liked. The rest of that bed, which was overflowing with tomatoes last year, will be filled mostly with three types of basil, leeks that we’ve started under the grow lights in the basement and some greens that will get the cold-frame treatment. Can’t talk the Brit out of one square of cucumbers; watch for the glut just from that. Hopefully we can time them with the first tomatoes so a lot of them can be turned into gazpacho.

Another bed will have a mix of greens, beets, coriander, some of that rainbow chard, a couple squares of marigolds and nasturtiums to keep down the unwanted kind of bugs. Okra can get another chance since there are seeds left over from two years ago. The new crop to try will be zucchini. Good thing I have a recipe for chocolate zucchini bread. Even three or four plants could produce plenty of baseball bats if we don’t keep an eye on them.

Tomatoes shouldn’t follow potatoes, which makes it hard to grow any potatoes if two of the five beds will go for tomatoes.  Scratch them, even though we liked last year’s  blue potatoes. Peppers also should be kept away from tomatoes. And they like to hold hands (touch). Put four of the yellow seedlings from our friend among the bed full of strawberries and two rhubarb plants; by the time they really grow, strawberry season will be over.

As for those tomatoes…the big wave of planting will begin around April 1. I’m sure I’ll have a few spares to share.