Saturday, April 10, 2010

What's in Your Garden?

Four weeks ago today, we planted our first seeds in this year's vegetable garden.  And because patience has never been my long suit, I added a few bedding plants the following week.  When I happened upon six packs of heirloom tomato plants for just $1.98 and singles of cilantro, yellow bell peppers and hot chili peppers for just 98 cents each, I couldn't resist.  

The cilantro and pepper plants went inuckets and are doing great.  I would have bought several of the cilantro.  We love it for salsa.  But they only had one left and it was a sad straggly little thing.  But after just three weeks of TLC, it's growing nicely. 

These are yellow bell peppers.  We use them on salads, in casseroles, in scrambled eggs and ...Furt's favorite ... stuffed peppers. 


And, finally, we have Big Jim Medium Hot Peppers.  We like jalapenos but they don't always like us.  This variety is supposed to be as flavorful as a good jalapeno but with a milder bite.  

Potatoes are a new adventure for us this year.  I grew them successfully for a couple of years when I lived in Colorado but that was a long time ago and a whole different climate.  We bought a 1-pound sack of Kennebec seed potatoes from the local co-op and have not been disappointed.  Great for baking, or can be chopped or sliced and then dehydrated for making soups, stews and casseroles.   We had enough to plant two 8-foot rows in the garden plus another four plants in two tire gardens.  As you can see, they are thriving.

Peas are our other new adventure this year.  We planted two rows in a 4x8-foot section with Alaska green peas.  They were the first seeds to sprout and are growing great.  Please ignore the little weed sprouts.  I have been waiting for everything to sprout and get well-established before I go back and weed the rows.  I will be using layered sheets of newspaper to mulch around the vegetables now that they're up and growing.  I used this method before and it works great.  After it's gotten wet and dried several times, the newspaper layers take on a thickness and texture similar to paper egg cartons.  Weeds cannot penetrate but water is absorbed and keeps the ground beneath it moist.  The newsprint ink is vegetable-based so it is garden friendly. 

And here we have Kentucky Wonder green beans.  We planted two roWhat we don't eat fresh will be canned in pint jars.  Since it's just the two of us, the pint jars are enough for one meal for both of us.   The peas and beans will be ready to harvest in mid- to late-June, and we will plant a second and a possibly a third time before first frost this fall.  

Also growing but not pictured here are two varieties of pickle cucumbers, a 4x4-foot section of onions and garlic and ten tomato plants.  Five of the tomato plants are heirloom variety and we will try harvesting the seeds for next year.  Two of the other five are cherry tomatoes and the remaining three are Celebrity hybrid tomatoes.  In addition to canning the excess, I plan to try drying all the varieties to see which perform best in a dehydrator.  We plan on a buying a dehydrator in the next week or two so we should be well set-up for a big tomato crop. 


  1. Hey, are you short of dirt in Texas, or was there some special reason you left the planters half full. This ain't like canning you know, they don't need headspace. ;-)

    Nice start to a hopefuly great garden.

  2. Looks like you guys are off to a great start :D

    We are going to be trying our hand at potatoes this year too. :)

    Have a great weekend

  3. @AKA ...nope, no shortage of dirt. We hauled in three yards of good riverbottom dirt when we built the raised bed garden. I still have about a yard left. The buckets are tall, 13 to 15 inches, so there is plenty of dirt for a good root system. The seedlings were half their current size when I put them in the buckets. The two inches or so of headspace provided a windbreak until they got a little bigger.

  4. @Fel ...potatoes were easy when I grew them in Colorado. If you have good soft dirt, you can feel around and just pull up one or two spuds at a time. If you are careful and not too disruptive to the plant, it will just make more.

    If they do well here too, we'll probably try to grow two varieties next year.

  5. Woohoo! I love your garden! I also have done the same thing with containers because of wind. The new plants need a wind guys are doing wonderful!


  6. Hello, Jen!

    The garden keeps us busy, but I guess that's good. Idle hands are the devil's workshop, right? Barring a scourge of insects or another record busting drought like last year, I'm expecting a sizable bounty from this year's gardening efforts. I'll probably have my grumbly times when I'm having to spend every spare moment canning or dehydrating to preserve it all. But when the gardening season is over and my shelves are lined with months worth of produce, it will have been worth it.