Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013 garden planning. Already? Yes, already!

The only produce left to be picked in my garden are the few containers of beets I managed to plant back in fall, a handful of jalapeno peppers on a couple plants that are still plugging along, and some kohlrabis that may or may not mature into bulbs over the winter. Also about thirty more Meyer lemons and a few Marrs oranges. The only herbs left are oregano (is growing like mad still), chives, my bay tree, lemon balm, and some mint. Oh, and the blueberry bushes are doing well and taking a break from all the growing they did since I planted them.

And since my location here south of Houston has a year-round growing climate, I have some things to plant this month, whenever it stops raining enough for dirt to dry out enough to work with. I've got baby broccoli plants to transplant, and lots of seeds can get planted now too: Carrot, kale, chard, turnips, kohlrabi, beets, bunching onions, and parsley.

Then starting in the later half of February, the spring crops start to get planted. I've got a lot of work ahead of me before I'm ready though. We're replacing the big storage bins we'd been using to grow cucumbers, eggplant, and bush beans with rectangular raised beds. Which won't be very hard to actually build, it just needs to get done. I priced replacing the containers every few years versus building simple beds out of cedar planks, and the wood frames will cost less and last longer. Really the only reason I used the big storage bins for planting was that I found them on sale for next to nothing at a discount store because they were missing their lids.

I'm going to re-plant some tried and true favorites again this year: Dragon's Tongue beans, Roma II beans, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, cherry tomatoes, Rich Sweetness 132 melons, Marketmore cucumbers, and Asian Long cucumbers. More Fairy Tale eggplants if I can find them again at a nursery, and the same basic kitchen herbs. Rosemary, thyme, basil, cilantro, and maybe sage this time too.

I also ordered some new varieties of seeds to try from Baker Creek heirloom seeds . A sweet little red pepper called "Lipstick" as an heirloom alternative to the Yummy pepper variety. I'll probably pick up a couple Yummy plants just to hedge my bets though. And a different round zucchini since I just never had much luck with Rond de Nice. Also "Little Fingers" eggplant. An heirloom that seems mostly comparable to Fairy Tale. It makes shorter stocky bushes like Fairy Tale, and produces fruit in clusters like Fairy Tale. But instead of being teardrop shaped streaked fruit, they are thin finger-shaped dark purple fruit. I also got a pack of seeds of a different miniature melon, Minnesota Midget. It's a lot like Rich Sweetness in that it makes shorter vines, small fruit, and can be trellised. But it's a cantaloupe style melon.  I also ordered a pack of Dragon's Egg cucumber seeds, which makes small white oval fruit. I'm going to put a trellis against the front wall of the house and will probably grow them there because they seem like they will be fairly decorative. Lastly, on request of my Dear Friend, I ordered a pack of Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia) seeds. One of *the* hottest peppers on the planet. They're apparently tricky as hell to grow, but we've got a hot enough climate to give them a fighting chance. I'm still not sure I want to try one, well maybe a tiny sliver. But I know some chiliheads who will appreciate some if they make anything.

I also received a pack of fancy purple vine bean seeds as a secret santa Christmas gift from a kind and generous garden fairy and have a decorative metal trellis to plant them against to bring some color to my patio. The vines are supposed to be purple, the leaves have purple veins, the flowers violet, and the beans purple and long-producing. They're an Italian variety so they'll be iffy in the kind of heat we get here. I'll be planting them early as possible to beat the heat and hope for the best.

And shocking but true... I'm taking a bit of a break from tomatoes this year. Aside from the bush cherry plants that did so well last year, I am only planting a few full-size plants this time. And possibly no heirlooms. If I have a craving that won't stop for a dark heirloom tomato, I can just shell out at Whole Foods or Central Market and be done with it. LOL!

I still haven't decided whether to put the orange tree in the ground or leave it in its' container. It can stay there until I make up my mind. It's mature enough for a good crop this coming year, I just need to do some pruning on it at the beginning of next month to keep it growing strong. I pulled all the fruit off of the satsuma and second lemon tree as they were having problems, after pruning them too, I will see how much regrowth they get this spring, and see whether or not I can leave some fruit to ripen on them as well. The Marrs oranges are pretty, fragrant, and sweet. But don't have much of an orangey flavor to them. Just sweetness. But the rind is very sweet above the pith, so if for nothing else, I'll grow them to make candied orange peel and marmalade.

That's pretty much it, I'm sure I forgot something or another. But this blog turned into a ramble, and I need to log offline.