Last year we managed to meet most of our vegetable garden goals.  We added bees in the spring, and in the summer months we finally built our retaining wall, which facilitated the construction of the greenhouse in the garden.

This year, with a greenhouse, we're able to keep the potting soil out of the kitchen!

This year we’re hoping to put the greenhouse to good use, in between a myriad of other construction projects, including building a barn, another retaining wall, and getting the last of the raised vegetable garden beds built.

The challenge this year will be weaving seed starting, and planting, in between the other projects, and our daily chores, but hopefully, with careful planning and organization, we’ll be able to keep the garden on track.

As we had amazing weather through most of December and January, we spent most of that time outside, doing vole abatement, replanting fruit trees, and brush clearing.  That meant that seed ordering was delayed a little longer than usual.

A few of our favorite catalogs

However, to make up for 2 months without rain in winter, this last week we received over 7 inches of rain!  This drove us inside, and gave us time to plan the garden for this year, and get the last of our seeds ordered.

It was time to dig through the seed stores, to see what stock we had on hand

I tried not to order any seed this year.  For 2012, rather than bringing in lots of new varieties, we expected we’d just focus on using our existing seed stores, as we’re now at the point where we can focus primarily on those varieties that have proven themselves in our gardens.

It looks like we have plenty of seed, but there was room for a few new additions

Despite the seed drawers brimming over with seed packets, we did decide to make a few additions this year, but we’ll also be sowing a lot of our previous favorites.

New to the garden this year, artichokes, eggplant, and gourds!  In between the raindrops this last weekend we managed to transplant out the first of our artichoke seedlings.

Artichoke Violetta di Romagna

Here’s our seed list for 2012:

Artichokes: Violetta di Romagna, Green Globe

Asian Greens: Red Komatsuna, Mei Qing Choi, Mizuna (Green and Purple), Tatsoi

Beans (Bush): Maxibel, Roc D’Or, Purple Queen

Scarlet runner beans are attractive to hummingbirds, and bees

Beans (Pole): Scarlet Runner, Spanish Musica, True Red Cranberry

Beets:  Bull’s Blood, Chioggia, and Golden

Broccoli: Calabrese

Carrots: Danvers, Scarlet Nantes

Chard: Golden, Fordhook Giant, Rhubarb Red

Cucumber: Delikatesse, Japanese Climbing

Eggplant: Listada De Gandia

Garlic: California Early White

If our birdhouse gourds do well, we hope to make a few bird houses for the feathered inhabitants of the farm

Gourd: Birdhouse

Kale: Red Russian, Lacinato

Leeks: Blue Solaise, and Giant Musselburgh

Lettuce: Merveille des Quatre Saisons, Mascara, Red, and Green, Oak Leaf

Onion: Candy (storage)

Parsnip: Javelin

Peas: Oregon Sugar Pod II, Progress #9

Peppers: Quadrato D’asti Rosso Pepper, Tolli’s Sweet Italian; Bulgarian Carrot, Jalapeño (Traveler Strain), and Villancho

Potatoes: German Butterball, Russian Banana, and Purple Majesty

Our watermelon radish seeds arrived the same day as the current issue of Sunset magazine, which has a feature article on them this month!

Radish: Cherry Belle, Chinese Red Meat (aka Watermelon), and French Breakfast

Sorrel: Red-Veined

Spinach: Bloomsdale, Monstreux de Viroflay spinach

Squash (Summer): Black Beauty, and Cocozelle Zucchini

Greek Sweet Red looks like a butternut, but has a more intense color, and flavor

Squash (Winter): Boston Marrow, Galeux d’Esyines, Greek Sweet Red, Marina di Chiogga, Musquee de Provence, Pink Banana, Potimarron, and Waltham Butternut

Tomatillo: Verde

This year we’re decreasing the variety of tomatoes we’re growing while we embark on an experiment with grafting tomatoes.  The last two years we’ve had erratic summer weather, with temperatures significantly cooler than normal.  The tomatoes not only produced lower than normal yields of fruits, but they also were more prone to disease.  As tomatoes are a tremendous investment of time and resources, being seeded in mid-February for a summer harvest, we’d like to attempt to improve the season’s harvest, both in yield, and duration, through grafting.  We’ll get more into the mechanics of tomato grafting in future posts, but we’re hoping to avoid another disappointing harvest, like last year’s.

Overall the 2011 heirloom tomato harvest was disappointing. We're hoping grafting will produce healthier plants, and increase yield

Tomatoes: Argentina, Beam’s Yellow Pear, Black Cherry, Black Pear, German Orange Strawberry (sport from saved seed), Golden King of Siberia, Pineapple, Russian Persimmon, Salisaw Cafe, San Marzano (Lungo 2), Stupice.

In addition to all these vegetables, the herb garden will be well stocked too.  Anticipating a better tomato crop this year, we’ll have plenty of Genovese basil ‘nufar’.

Honey bee on fennel

Rosemary, sage, lemon thyme, and oregano will be in abundance, delighting the bees, in addition to parsley, dill, chervil, chocolate mint, fennel, and lemon verbena.  New to the herb garden this season, sweet mace, and cumin!

Needless to say, both the greenhouse, and gardens will be very busy this spring.

The propagation bench is already getting crowded, with lots of native annual and perennial seedlings!

The greenhouse is already full of native plant seedlings, including Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata), Coast Buckwheat (Eriogonum latifolium), California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), and Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum).

In a few months, the bees will be lining up to visit these Globe Gilias when they're in bloom

These will soon have to move over though, to make way for our tomatoes and peppers.

Also new to the seed order this year, and perhaps the seed we’re most excited to plant, is this…

In anticipation of our soon-to-be-arriving goats, this season we're planting a dairy pasture mix on the meadow.

But before the goats arrive, we have some seed sowing to do!  More about the goats soon though, I promise!