Our goals this year in the vegetable garden are to 1) add bees, 2) finally get the retaining wall in the garden built, and 3) install the greenhouse.  Once the greenhouse is up, we can finish building out the last of our raised beds to make room for all the vegetables we’re planting this year.  Trying to function here without a greenhouse has been remarkably challenging to say the least, and I can’t wait to put it to plenty of good use (and keep the potting soil out of the kitchen)!


We spent the past few weeks ordering from some of our favorite seed catalogs

In the meantime we have big plans for the gardens this year.  Most of our seeds for 2011 have arrived, and we’re itching to get planting.  We’re gradually phasing out most of the hybrids in the garden, and reverting to planting heirloom varieties.


This year we're replacing Blue Wind Broccoli (F1) with the heirloom Calabrese

Our seed selection for 2011 is:

Beans: Spanish Musica, Royal Burgundy, Foremost, Roc D’Or

Beets:  Bull’s Blood, Red Ace, Golden

We love the sweet, stain-free, golden beets

Broccoli: Blue Wind, Calabrese

Carrots: Scarlet Nantes, Parisienne, Rainbow mix

Cucumber: Delikatesse, Japanese Climbing

Garlic: California Early White, California Late White.

Greens: Rhubarb Red and Golden chard.  Lacinato, and Red Russian kale.  Bloomsdale, Space, and Monstreux de Viroflay spinach.  Tatsoi, Shanghai Green and Green Fortune pac choi.

Leeks: Blue Solaise, and Giant Musselburgh

Green Oakleaf is a reliable year around producer here

Lettuce: Black Seeded Simpson, Green Rapids, Lollo Rossa, Merveille des Quatre Saisons, Mascara and Green Oak Leaf.

Onion: White Spear (bunching), New York Early (storage)

Parsnip: Javelin

Peas: Oregon Sugar Pod II (snow), and Progress #9 (shelling)

Peppers: Quadrato D’asti Rosso Pepper, Orange Bell, Tolli’s Sweet Italian, and Purple Beauty

Potatoes: German Butterball, Rose Finn Apple


Radish: Cherry Belle, and French Breakfast

Squash (Summer): Early Prolific straightneck (yellow), and Black Beauty Zucchini

Squash (Winter): Anna Swartz Hubbard, Baby Pam Pumpkin, Boston Marrow, Galeux d’Esyines, Gill’s Golden Pippin, Greek Red, Jarrahdale, Marina di Chiogga, Musquee de Provence, Potimarron, Red Kuri, and Waltham Butternut

This year we’re undertaking our own ‘great winter squash experiment’.  While scanning through the seed catalogs in recent weeks, we had a difficult time narrowing down our choice.  Rather than planting many of a single variety, we’ve decided to see what really likes to grow here.  To make space, we’ve annexed an area that we weren’t sure what to do with in the orchard, primarily due to the terrain, on the northern edge of the orchard.  The slope there faces south, so there will be no shortage of sun.  The soils are being heavily amended over winter as the soils are relatively poor there.  We’re hoping at least a few of these will be happy here!


Our selection of winter squash varieties for 2011

Tomatillo: Verde

In addition to the great squash experiment, we’re also expanding the varieties of tomatoes grown this year, as it’s simply not possible to have too many tomatoes, is it?  We did draw the line at 20 varieties though.

Tomatoes: Argentina, Azoychka, Beam’s Yellow Pear, Black Cherry, Black Pear, Blondkopfchen, Crnkovic Yugoslavian, Federle, German Orange Strawberry (sport from last year), German Red Strawberry, Large Red, Pantano Romanesco, Pineapple, Russian 117, Russian Persimmon, Salisaw Cafe, San Marzano (Lungo 2), Stupice, Tobolsk, and Vorlon (who can resist such an alien sounding tomato?).

A sample of the tomatoes grown here in 2010

You may recognize some from last year, but others have been replaced. Cherokee Purple is being replaced with Vorlon this year, whose parents reportedly were Cherokee Purple, and Pruden’s Purple[1].  Cherokee Purple has been unpredictable for us in the past, with good years and bad, so we’re curious to see if the Pruden’s cross improves production.  Texas Star was replaced with Pineapple.  We’d certainly grow Texas Star again, but I’m still on my quest to find the best performing golden bi-color variety for this region.  Two paste varieties have also been added this year for making sauce to store over winter.  We know San Marzano does well here, but we’re curious to try it alongside Federle, both for performance and taste.   For the first time in about 10 years, Sungold (F1) is out.  It fizzled in our cool weather last summer, and there’s more to tomato life than Sungold.  So instead we’re trying two new (to the farm) cherry varieties, Blondkopfchen and Black Cherry.  We may try one of the dehybridized Sungold varieties in the future, but for now, we thought we’d go for something completely different.

Is it really almost time to start tomatoes again? Where has the year gone!?

By the time the last of our tomato seeds arrive, it will be time to start our tomato seedlings!


These should keep us busy for now

In addition to all these vegetables, the herb garden will be well stocked too.  We’ll have the classics, rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, dill, oregano, and marjoram.  We’re dropping Basil ‘Aroma 2’ in favor of Basil ‘Nufar’ this year, as production was phenomenal with Nufar last year.  We’re also adding Lovage, Chervil, Summer Savory, Chocolate Mint, Anise Hyssop, and Lemon Verbena.

Despite cool weather, our basil did remarkably well last year

This list of course is by no means necessarily final, as one or two additions invariably work their way into the gardens during the season.  For now though we’ve got more than enough to work into our planting schedule and rotation plans to keep us busy.  We just hope this summer is warmer than the last!


[1] Tatiana’s TomatoBase – Vorlon