Monday, January 24, 2011

In the 2011 Garden

Despite the below-average-temperature today, I'm getting ready to start my 2011 garden. I'm finalizing the planting plan and will start my first seeds (onions, kale & kohlrabi) early next week.  Here's what my 2011 garden has in store:

Eggplant (Early Black Egg)
Eggplant (Ping Tung Long)
Tomato (Sungold)
Tomato (Black Cherry)
Tomato (Eva Purple Ball)
Tomato (Amy's Sugar Gem)
Tomato (Siberian)
Ground Cherry (Cossack Pineapple)
Sweet Pepper (Tequila Sunrise)
Hot Pepper (Cherry...need to still buy this)

Winter Squash (Delicata Zeppelin)
Summer Squash (Dark Green Zucchini)
Pickling Cucumber (Edmonson)
maybe another kind of pickling cucumber

Lettuces & Legumes
Pole Bean (McCaslan)
Pole Bean (Louisiana Purple Pod)
Bush Bean (Fin de Bagnol)
Bush Bean (Provider)
Lettuce (Deer Tongue)
Lettuce (Red Velvet)
Swiss Chard
Corn Mache
Mustard Greens

Root Vegetables
Onion (Yellow Borettana)
Potato (need to get this)

Annual Herbs & Flowers
Purple Opal Basil
Thai Basil
Sweet Basil

And, I'm starting all of this from seed. My grow lights are certainly going to be working overtime this year!  I'm slightly concerned about not having enough room for everything under the grow light (well, everything that is not direct-sown), but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. I'm also a little concerned as I'm growing a ton of stuff I've never tried before (onions, potatoes, winter squash, beans!, borage, lettuce, turnips), but that just keeps me on my toes, right?!?

Note: I will be keeping track on the money spent on the garden this year. I got a bunch of seeds for Christmas this year. The approximate total for these, plus the Sungold & Black Cherry seeds I bought, are $32.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Houseplants: A Reminder of Warmer Days Ahead

Currently, the ground is frozen here in Arlington. Thus one has 2 options: Be content with dreaming about next year's garden or get your hands dirty inside.  I choose the latter option. Nothing cheers up the indoors like a bit of living green things around too.  Now, some claim that certain plants clean the air. I am not able to either confirm or deny these claims. Instead, for me, they brighten my day--especially in the winter months--and any air-cleaning effect is just a bonus.

Here are the plants that call my house their home:

African violets.  Now, Mabel featured in my previous blog post, has since died.  I accidentally left her in our unheated porch during a hard freeze.  Poor girl.  However, I have since replaced her with 3 other African violets: Priscilla, Duchess and Violet.  What is lovely about African violets is that they bloom year-round and have a wide variety of petal colors, petal shapes, leaf colors, etc.

Pothos. Yes, these are the ubiquitous office plants. And they are ubiquitous for good reason too...doing well under very low light conditions and infrequent watering make these suckers tough to kill. However, if you look around hard, you can find cultivars with unusual leaves. Best of both worlds!

Bonsai. I don't really groom my ficus bonsai (his name is Newton) like I should. Instead I enjoy have a little tree in my house.

Pilea glauca & Dwarf Philodendron. Remember my post on landscaping inside?  As I predicted the Centarium scilloides died (probably too dry and was crowded out by the aggressive Pilea glauca), but the rest of the planting is thriving in a location with virtually no light--artificial or otherwise.

Gerbera daisy. My husband got this for me probably around October and it is amazingly still blooming!

Plants I'm considering:

Dwarf citrus. The hiccup here is that I'm not sure I get enough sun indoors to ever get fruit.

Scented geraniums. These aren't actually geraniums...they are part of the Pelagornium genus. Importantly, these can be used to make flavored simple syrups or tea (actual geraniums are poisonous). I'm thinking about acquiring a rose scented one. Sandy Mush Nursery in North Carolina has an impressive selection, but locally DeBaggio's selection isn't too bad.

Lichen. I killed a beautiful terrarium purchased from Etsy and would love to try another one.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winter Farmer's Markets: Still Full of Awesome

I've sporadically been visiting the Falls Church Farmer's Market on Saturdays.  While it's currently less than half it's spring and summer size, there is still lots of local yum to be found. For me, the most exciting has been the pickle purveyor.  He must just come in the winter, as he was there last winter (but not spring, summer or fall) too.  You can choose between kosher dills, half sours, sours, full sour and something non-cucumber.  A few weeks ago I scored some amazing sauerkraut (that I cooked with a local pork roast from Valentine's, roughly following this recipe); this week he had pickled beets.  I also noticed someone that had non-fermented cucumber pickles and some other home-canned goods (maybe pickled?) like carrots and green beans.  There are still some produce vendors and of course the meat, dairy and baked goods vendors.

There is certainly more gourmet, prepared food to be had as well, even from the produce vendors. And, perhaps because of this, there are many samples to be had. Sausage, soup, pickles, oh my!

Thus, while it probably isn't possible to get all your grocery needs from the farmer's market in the winter, there are plenty of reasons to go.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 Garden Resolutions

Well, that's another year gone.  In the span of 12 months, I quit my job, expanded our dining room, birthed a baby and (with ample help of my husband) completed 2 large yard projects: smothering grass on half the yard and re-doing our raised beds.  It's been a busy year.  And I expect 2011 will be just as productive.

I resolve to:
1. Plant a greater diversity of edibles.  Typically, I plant nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants), assorted herbs and ground cherries.  Last year I added in garlic, cucumbers and summer squash.  This year I plan to do proper crop rotation and add in: green beans, onions, lettuce, winter squash, potatoes and new-to-me herbs like borage.  I'm hoping to put in a grape vine or two as well.

2. Incorporate more native plants.  Santa got me Armitage's Native Plants for North American Gardens for Christmas and I was kind of surprised how many native plants I already have, but with a now grass-less patch in the front yard and a newly cleared backyard, lots of planting will be happening in 2011.

3. Be better about turning the compost.  I kind of resolve to do this every year & then get lazy, though.

4. And, not strictly about gardening but rather the results of edible gardening, I hope to do a lot more pickling and will, of course, continue the Local Eating Challenge.