Sunday, January 19, 2014

Eating more off the farm: Vegetable scheming

This year I'm going to make a serious attempt to grow every kind of vegetable that I and my family eat that I can.   The first step was to figure out what is on that list.  Here's the vegetables that top my personal list, in alphabetical order:

arugula basil beets bell-pepper broccoli brussel-sprouts cabbage carrot catnip
cayenne-pepper chives cilantro collard-greens corn cucumber Garlic green beans
habenero kale leek lettuce melon mescaline onions parsley parsnip peas pepper
peppermint potato pumpkin rosemary rutabaga scallons spinach squash sugar-peas
tomatillo tomato turnip watermelon

The second thing to do is to figure out what makes the most sense to grow -- not so much from a cost perspective, but from a desire to grow clean versions of things that usually test postive for herbicides or pesticides.   Things like sweet corn, sweet potatoes, kale and summer squashes get on the list because of that.  

Ok,  time to work through the seed catalogs.  lets take "carrot" as an example
I've got three catalogs I'm working through, and there are sure a lot of choices for carrots.  Yellow carrots and long carrots and short carrots...   How big are carrot seeds?  what's the time to harvest?  Row spacing?  What kind of soil do they like?  a little work on the computer, and I add the carrots to the map of the garden, and then move on to the next thing on the list.  

I also note a rough guide on when to plant, and, more importantly, when to start the plants indoors so that they're big enough to transplant.  

 Sweet corn; I had a pretty good crop last year with the big corn patch; this year I'm just going to do personal consumption amounts; a couple of hundred plants vs 10s of thousands.

 I do like the idea of ornamental corn, but I wonder if it gets dry enough long enough to cure.  I think I'll spend a couple of bucks and see.
 Potatoes.  I think the best mashed are a mix of several kinds; like some red and some russet.  Purple potatos -- I've never heard of that.  Hmm...  a buck or two again.

I've also got a box of seeds, leftovers from previous years.   I can use as much land as I want this time; but I've found that for me, anything over a half-acre of garden is just wasted.  I only have so much time to weed and tend it, and if I go above a half acre it just doesn't get done.  I could probably mechanize somehow, but a half-acre of ground is LOTS of vegetables.  .

I'm a little old-fashioned about this.  I like pictures, and I like being able to leaf through the catalogs.  My garden map is on a legal pad; a rough scale drawing of the amount of space and placement of crops, along
with some notes on succession planting of parts.

So if I want to eat a salad a week, I should plant 2 or 3 lettuce plants a week so that at least one has a good chance of making it to the dinner table.

I also have a good place for any spare vegetables to go.  The pigs and cows are where the #2 crops go, and some #1 crops, too, if we're not going to eat them in time.


Steve said...

Good Providence with your garden. There is something special in walking out to a garden and picking your dinner just before eating it.

off grid mama said...

Get your garlic in soon... generally planted in the fall. You'll still get a yeild just lower. Carrots are awful to grow.. sand is helpful. Blue potatoes are best fried or made into hashbrowns. Finally mulch the tarnation out of it.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

It's helpful to know what chemicals have been applied in the past too, some crops like cucurbits are notorious for uptake issues - even if the soil hasn't had any chemical applications for years.

But that being said - homegrown (if you have the time) beats purchased hands down.

ellie k said...

Ornamental corn will mix with regular sweet corn if planted close together.

ellie k said...

Ornamental corn will mix with regular sweet corn if planted close together.