Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Garden fever

Is it too early for garden fever? Actually, I don't have it just yet. I know I have garden fever when I feel like I will go mad if I don't go to the nursery this INSTANT and browse plants for several hours! It will actually be a few months before I am struck down by that oh-so-anticipated virus.

Still, I am looking ahead to spring by starting my garden plan. Fun, fun, fun! I have decided to plant two more perennials - blackberries and kiwis. I am going to plant two or three varieties of thornless erect blackberries. I chose thornless erect varieties to avoid trellising, to make weeding out the volunteers easier, and to make picking more enjoyable. No doubt there will be some sort of trade-off in yield or size or something, but it seems like it will be worth it. The local extension service recommends Navajo and Apache for our area.

I have not yet decided on the kiwis yet. I would have to trellis them, with a big strong trellis, and I'm not looking forward to that. There are two kinds I am considering - the regular fuzzy kind found in the grocery store (I believe they are hardy in my area) and the smaller, sweeter kind that are about the size of grapes. Any advice or recommendations on either?

I am also considering a persimmon and/or 2 semi-dwarf pears for the front yard strip between my neighbor's driveway and my own. The persimmon is supposed to be a very carefree plant, few diseases or pests. Haven't decided yet. I will probably order my blackberries and kiwis from Burnt Ridge Nursery or Raintree Nursery, and I should probably do so soon since planting time for perennials here is March.

I have gotten my Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog and my Territorial catalog, and I will try to limit my seed buying to those two companies, in the interest of minimizing seed shipping costs. The Baker Creek catalog is amazingly beautiful - almost like a magazine and much nicer than their website. I also like Horn Seed, my friendly local supplier just a mile away, and they have bulk items like potatoes, onion sets, transplants, and cover crops when I need them. I bought a Southern seed package from Baker Creek last year, so I actually have most of the seeds I need. My seed collection from the past three years, double bagged in plastic Ziplocs, is now taking up an entire fridge crisper.

This morning I drew out the borders of my (backyard) garden on graph paper for Spring and Summer versions of my garden plan. I decided what to plant based on successes of previous years - what grows and yields well, plus what we will eat and what seems worth it in our small garden (200 square feet?). Here's what made the cut:

  • Tomatoes, of course, about two regular plus a Cherry,
  • Green beans - bush - I was so impressed with the Royalty Purple variety from last year!
  • Green beans - pole - I swear I will make a decent bean teepee this time around,
  • Asian bean - Chinese noodle - they look so cool I have to try them,
  • Butternut squash (squash bug resistant!) on a trellis,
  • Onions to edge the garden, (supposed to be good companion plants),
  • Sunflowers,
  • Okra (Burgundy - they get to be 11 feet tall around here)
  • Parsley, basil and dill (the rest of the herbs are in a perennial section of the garden)
  • Sweet potatoes - new this year, but we eat a lot of them
  • Malabar spinach - I'm going to try it for summer salads

And in the front yard, I'm going to plant Bell and jalapeno peppers again - but more of them - and zucchini - to try to outwit the dreaded squash bugs that infested my back yard garden last year. Wish me luck!


Alison said...

Yeah, I've got that garden fever thing. I'm trying hard to blog about something else today though :-)

Meantime, my desk is covered with papers on permaculture planning and I'm wondering just how little grass I can leave and still not scare off anyone who might like to buy my home if I decide to move. Territorial just happens to be my seed merchant of choice!

Despite all of my blogging this week about gardening with kids neither of my two offspring has the slightest interest. Guess why I said that this is a project which requires to be driven by the parent? I probably expected more enthusiasm from my kids when they were younger than was reasonable. Now I just try to harness and maintain my own enthusiasm and maybe one day it will become contagious :-)

What about growing figs? I'd love to, but I'd need to bring them inside for winter as it gets too cold here.

Lewru said...

Isn't that Baker Creek catalog gorgeous? It's like a coffee table book!

I grew Burgundy okra last year and I planted it a bit late. That may be why it didn't do so hot but my nameless green variety from the local nursery was off like a shot. Did you grow Burgundy last year?

Also, if your butternut squash are anything like the size of mine were last year, you'll have to get some really good support on that trellis. People always suggest old pantyhose, but since I never wear any, I don't have a source! Maybe tie up the squash with old rags or something. Otherwise, trellising might get bogged down.

I wish I had more to offer on the fruit front, but I'm not your gal...

What about greens and cowpeas that last through our ridiculously hot summers? And only 4 tomatoes? Girlfrau, you need more than that! :)

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

My parents and I planted the Burgundy from seed and they got huge - but I was also late with mine and didn't really start yielding till early Sept. Will plant earlier this year! I like them because they are so ornamental. Don't have room for more tomatoes! This is why I need a garden on my front lawn too ;). I was thinking an upside down V-shaped trellis, planting Butternuts on both sides. What do you think?

Lewru said...

Rip up some lawn! If I got sun in my front yard it would be a vegetable paradise. Instead I have a massive oak tree and I guess the shade is nice, too.

The trellis will probably work, but you'll have to be careful to tie up the squash or they could damage the vines. Still, though - doable!

Tara said...

I DO have garden fever! I've been looking at my dug up plot of dirt all fall and winter long, and I'm dying to put something in it besides rabbit poo!

I got the Southern pack from Baker too, and I'm excited about the Asian greens that came with it. I need to order some other things though to sort of round it out. There are a lot of some things, not much of others. I too will be planning my garden this weekend and I'm quite excited.

I highly recommend Malabar spinach, especially if you live in a hot or dry climate. It grows like mad with very little care, and we like it raw and cooked. Just one caution, though - you need to protect it from cold, as it cannot withstand any sub-freezing temps whatsoever. I found that out the hard way. One cold night and it's death will be rapid and total.

We put a fig tree in as we've been told they do very well here (north TX) and are easy to maintain. We'll see!

Bee said...

I've got the fever already. I'm getting ready to figure out when I should start planting seeds in the basement.

Happy New Year! and Happy Gardening!

Verde said...

I don't have the garden feaver - the cold is seeping in all around inspite of a fire and good insulation - that happens -0.

I should order seeds to start in the window seal under lights - I have to remember that is my plan for Jan/Feb. They can't go into the ground until late May, early June however.

I've never seen persimmions or kiwi grown so we must be in different climates. I have always thought of OK getting pretty cold - is that not right?

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Hi Verde - OKC is in a Zone 7 climate - gets down to about zero degrees sometimes - but usually not below 10. Kiwis are hardy to -2 degrees F (some of them are anyway). And persimmons are hardier than that, I think.

anajz said...

My! How organized you are! The catalogs are coming in here, but I haven't had time to look through any of them.
I am excited about the kiwi. I believe I am in Zone6 about 4 hours northwest of you. Our windchill can get below -2 on occasion, but usually not the actual temp. I love kiwis so I am going to have to do a bit research. I miss figs and pomegranates from when I lived in Texas.

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

anajz - there are actually some kinds of kiwis that will grow in even colder climates. I think one is called Arctic Beauty.

Alison - I planted a fig, but I think I got a kind not too good for my area. And the birds get all the figs that ripen anyway. ;) I guess that's true with a lot of fruits.

Jennie said...

I used to live in OK, and I moved up to Iowa for college and haven't left yet. :-) I am trying to grow the hardy kiwis up here in zone 4. Arctic Beauty is indeed one of the smaller grape like hardy kiwi's I looked at. I'm not sure about normal fuzzy kiwis, but the hardy kiwis come in male and female, so make sure you have a male vine to keep your females happy. There are a couple of self-fertilizing types, but I've heard mixed reviews about them.
DEFINITELY invest in a strong trellis system. A fully productive hardy kiwi vine can put on a fruit load over 200 lbs.

No fair bragging about okra. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find okra in Iowa? I've tried growing it for the past couple of years, but between the late freezes and biblical flooding, I haven't had a crop yet.

Are you on the Idig forum boards that Bakers Creek runs? I used to post as Jennie_in_Iowa on there a lot.

I just found your blog from Crunchy's award nomination for nuttiest eco-blogger. It would be funny if we've talked on Idig before.