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A New Season of Gardening Begins
Today I tilled my garden. I bought this house in 2016, so this is my eighth garden here. When I started gardening here, the ground was hardpacked, and tilling it was a great effort. But I’ve added leaves, straw, sawdust, and coffee grounds to the soil over the years, and it has become nice and loose.
I always plant tomatoes, usually 16-20 plants, because they are so much better than store-bought tomatoes. I like Early Girl because they are, wait for it, early tomatoes and bear well. But I also plant several heirloom varieties like Mortgage Lifter, Black Krym, Amish Paste, and San Marzano because I like the unusual tomatoes they yield.
And I plant 10-12 pounds of seed potatoes, enough to give us about three months of potatoes in late summer. Last year I harvested 55 pounds of potatoes with a mix of red Dakota and yellow Kennebec. My early spring crops are several kinds of lettuce, spinach, radishes, and arugula. Last year I tried cabbage and broccoli, but I planted them late and it got hot early, so they went to seed before I could pick any heads.
Gardening is an expression of faith in God. You can plant at the right time, hoe weeds throughout the summer, and water; but you are still dependent on the right temperatures and the right rain to get a good yield.Published in General
You are early. Here in the Pittsburgh region, my goal is to get plants in by Mothers day. The weather doesn’t always accommodate my goals. I do have seedlings started already though.
Do you have a preferred method of staking your tomatoes?
Do you freeze or can?
Good grief, Steve, that’s not a garden–it’s a miniature farm!! We haven’t gardened in a long time, and the couple of times we’ve tried to grow tomatoes in our screened-in lanai, they are beleaguered by white flies (and too much trouble to maintain). You’ll need to show us samples when things start to grow, and the garden in full bloom. Well done!
I should start seedlings, since I have a grow-light; also, I’m in Texas and have no excuses! Except I am going to be out of town the first week of April, so…I’ll wait ’til I get back.
To buy plants, rather than start things from seed. I used to grow, or attempt to grow, all manner of peppers. Order seed from small cutesy specialty suppliers. Breeders whose output was long on prose, short on vigor. They were visionaries who’d moved to New Mexico: you gotta watch those people. Anyway, their seed might indeed sprout, and even complete a life cycle, but the yield was never anything special. Quantitywise or qualitywise. So now I just get 4″ pots of Anaheims and banana peppers and bell peppers, and stick ’em in my backyard, and they do fine.
Same with cucumbers, but those are another story. Maybe in the summer I’ll post my refrigerator-pickle recipes.
That is a nice big garden! I feel like I am late starting seeds, but it’s only mid-March so I still have time. Next week!
I always plant Brandywine, because look at this thing:
Brandywines are my favorites. I generally plant them, San Marzano for the paste variety, and Rutgers. I’ve not done much in the garden for a couple of years, but hope to get back in the swing of things for 2023 with a combination of ‘from seed’ and ‘buy plants.’
Yes. The weather in SWPA is extremely unreliable through at least mid-May. We can have it in the 70s one day, and the following night there may be snow. It’s crazy.
What do you do about potato beetles?
You must be doing something wrong. Michael Bloomberg says it’s easier than that.
Gardeners have my respect but it’s not for me. I spent too much time in the hot sun picking rocks and hoeing when I was growing up. And there was that one year we had the bumper crop of turnips.
With all of today’s talk about the environment and health, I can’t think of a better antidote than gardening. Transporting produce from your yard makes a lot more sense than from California. Time spent outside and the exercise involved results in a healthier you – and the food is just better. Add to that the benefit (often on our part of the country) of sharing with neighbors – who, you know, you actually have to talk with in person, and it’s a total win-win-win. Look, I’m not a let’s-get-government-involved guy, but some incentives to promote more gardening (even just a public relations approach) would be great for the country.
We plant peas on Memorial Day in my neck of the woods.
Well, I don’t. But I’ve got friends and at least one child who gardens, so I get to reap the rewards without having to actual reap…or sow…or weed…
I decided this year to till the garden as early as possible so that I am ready for early stuff like cabbage, potatoes, and lettuce. If I wait to till until it is warm enough to plant, then my planting gets delayed. It was 65F. yesterday, so we’re having warm days.
I use snap-together plastic tomato cages from K-Brands. I like them because you can make them higher as the plants grow and they are fairly sturdy. But really heavy tomato plants pull them down, so they are not the perfect solution. The best tomato cages I have are beautiful wrought iron cages that cost $100 each – a friend gave me a couple after she changed her mind about growing tomatoes. Do you have a good solution?
My mom is 89, and she loves to freeze and can. I’m not sure how much longer she will be able to do it, but she is so happy when I bring produce over for her to take care of.
Thanks! When I was growing up, we grew most of our fruit and vegetables. We had a huge garden and 20+ fruit trees, and my brother and I were forced to work in it every day. I hated it. But when I bought my own house, I started to get interested in gardening again. And I’m a bit of a foodie, so it’s nice to have fresh produce without paying farmers’-market prices.
In central Kansas we don’t have potato beetles! I grew up in the Oklahoma panhandle, and we used a stick to push the beetles off the leaves into a little tin can of gasoline.
I’ve grown Brandywines a few times, and I love them too. It’s sad how all our fruits and vegetables have gotten so uniform and without character or taste.
I’d like to see Bloomberg grow enough food to feed himself, let alone teach others how. Everything looks easy until you actually try to do it yourself.
I grew up in a house that was on top of a ridge in the NW part of Pennsylvania. My dad HOPED he could plant by Memorial Day. With some risk of a late August frost, it made for a short growing season.
You must have had a fairly dry winter to till in March. I’ve never been able to till at this time here in mid-Missouri. I do have 700 seedlings growing in the house- mainly flowers.
I saw this being posted on FB from someone here in snow country – what was formerly known as California.
In Nebraska we kids used to pick them off by hand. Here in Michigan I gave up on potatoes a couple of years ago. I would poison them, but even with that it just got to be too much to stay ahead of them. Now I grow sweet potatoes instead.
How many years in a row have you planted potatoes?
you are too humble… 700 seedlings requires a manse.
I’ve always said that gardening is bringing a little bit of heaven down to earth. I must be a bit more north than you. It’s not quite ready to unwrap my fig tree and prune my grapes. But close.
My Mom, at the age of 94, still makes fridge dills for us. Growing up, EVERY weekend was canning weekend during the Summer. If it wasn’t growing in our yard, we would go to the market and buy bushels of whatever was in season. If it was in our garden, you had better have a darn good excuse to not participate in the canning ritual. (death was only a marginally acceptable excuse if was accompanied with a death certificate.) I freeze now. Particularly tomatoes and peppers. I don’t care about tomato skins, so tomatoes just get destemed, and plopped into ziplocks. It works for big girls, and cherry toms. I destem and deseed the peppers, then freeze them. I have two large old fashioned deep freezes. ( I will get Mom’s too someday, hopefully not for a while… yet)
Last year I ordered seeds from my youthful iconic mainstay, Burpee. Gosh they were bad. sigh…
My Big boy tomato seeds were some sort of frankenstein heirloom. They looked much like the toms in @drewinwisconsin ‘s. edible, but not at all what i wanted.
re: @JohnH comment about pepper seeds. What is it about pepper seeds? My tomato seeds have 100% spouted. I have planted 2x pepper seeds, from multiple sources (4 diff Burpee packets, Farris Morris, harvested from produce) . Nada, nothing, zilch.
I have been cursed by the capsaicin god to never grow peppers.
It has been quite dry, so we could use some snow or rain.
You must have a beautiful yard since you have 700 flower seedlings ready to plant.
I’ve planted potatoes 5 years in a row. But my parents live next door, and they have planted potatoes for 20 years and don’t have potato beetles. The climate here must not be good for them.
How many years did you plant them haphazardly instead of in a row?
A clear sign of global warming, just like the weather in California, the unseasonable coldness in Hong Kong, etc.
Not just global warming, it’s CLIMATE CATASTROPHE!!!!!!!!
Steve, where are you in Kansas? We are in Auburn outside of Topeka. Two years ago we had an amazing harvest of Edmonton cucumbers from Seed Savers Exchange. They apparently were bred in Kansas.
I have seen that word before but couldn’t imagine how that would describe my situation so I looked it up. Thanks for the laugh! When we were looking at this farm to buy, I said lets go in the house (vacant) and look around. He said, “you want to see the house?” True story. My brother said, “You need to put a match to it and get you a double-wide.” 35 years later with a lot of renovations (it was an Amish farmhouse with no utilities) and two additions, we are still here! So on one level it is a mansion to us!
It looks like it’s not sure it wants to be a tomato…..