Sunday, January 10, 2010

Getting started (again)

Last year, we spent about $170, and got 200 onions, 30 garlic heads, countless peppers (Ace and banana), a handful of yellow squash, a dozen spaghetti squash, the same number of butternuts, several handfuls of sugarsnap peas, a good amount of swiss chard, lot of herbs and a few cukes. Not exactly two households' annual consumption of vegetables, but a respectable return on investment.

Now, we're starting to invest in the new season. Last fall, I spent about $25 (can't find the receipt at the moment) on a new variety of garlic, and recently, for $77.80 including shipping, we ordered:

  • 25 Purple Passion asparagus plants
  • 200 Mars onions
  • Alpine strawberry seeds
  • Easter Egg radish seeds
  • Peppino (hot) pepper seeds
  • Chocolate sunflower seeds

In the spring, we'll buy plants from a local nursery for our pepper and tomato crops, along with another thyme plant and a few spur-of-the-moment items. We already have seeds for lettuce, tatsoi, cukes, squash (both summer and winter), basil, dill, swiss chard and nasturtiums; and we have the perennials in the ground: asparagus (the regular, green variety), catnip, sage, chives, garlic chives, mint and oregano.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Season extenders

I'm looking forward to experimenting in 2010 with season extenders like row covers.

The one season extension I'm already doing is simply growing crops that can withstand the weather. The pictured plants (not counting the equally hardy weed to the right) are tatsoi, and this was taken mid-December, after we'd had two slushy snow storms. The swiss chard was still growing too.

If you haven't tried tatsoi yet, I heartily recommend it. Without even trying -- these plants self-seeded from the spring crop -- I get two harvests, one in the spring (which goes to seed with hot weather) and an even prettier and more vibrant crop in the fall continuing into the early winter. If it had a little protection, I suspect it would grow through the whole winter.

Tatsoi can be eaten raw (the way I prefer it), mixed in with salads, or it can be steamed like spinach or other greens.