Saturday, February 2, 2013

2013 Garden Plan

I thought it was high time for me to share our 2013 garden plan. As usual, we have high hopes for a fabulous year in the garden. As I shared last month, we are going to start many of our crops from seed indoors using our DIY seed starting rig. We will grow several new species of plants as well as a few varieties that are new to us. Hubby Dear has been spending a lot of his spare time reading about new techniques that we can use to boost yields in our garden. In an attempt to fight back against the wee vicious beasties (a.k.a. squash bugs) that devastated our zucchini crop last year, we are incorporating some flowers to attract beneficial insects and will also try using row covers. 

The north half of the garden. 

I'm sorry the plan came out so blurry, but hopefully you can read it well enough to follow along. Assuming there are people following along. I know not everyone finds garden plans as entrancing as I do! We bought our seeds from a variety of catalogs. Baker Creek Seeds, Seed Saver's Exchange, Johnny's Selected Seeds, and Peaceful Valley are my favorites. I also bought a few seeds I couldn't get elsewhere from Southern Exposure Seeds and Territorial Seeds.

Zucchini - We're trying Costata Romanesco again this year. The one tiny zucchini we ate before the wee vicious beasties destroyed our plants last year was fabulous.

Watermelon - Golden Midget is another re-do from last year. Our vine plants just were eaten up by bugs and didn't produce much.

Cucumber - Boston Pickling We grew 'Double Yield' from Seed Saver's Exchange last year and it was a total bust. Time to try something new.

Corn - We are planting Golden Bantam again this year. Despite living in the corn belt, we have the worst luck growing corn. We think Golden Bantam would have been a good choice for us but we planted it too late last year. If at first you don't succeed...

Pumpkin - We have successfully grown 'Baby Pam' in the past, but decided to try Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkins this year. I wish I had room for all the varieties of squash I'd love to grow.

Kale - Dwarf Blue Curled  I'll be honest. I've never tried Kale before. Not that I haven't wanted to, but it is not something that our podunk small town grocery store carries. Everyone I know raves about how good kale is (especially in chip form) and how good it is for you, so I thought it was time to grow some. If we don't like it, at least poultry will appreciate it.

Garlic - We grew Music variety garlic last year, enjoyed a nice harvest, and saved back some of the best heads for this year's crop.  You can read about how we planted our garlic this past fall here. Now that I have finished using all our garlic from 2012, I know how much more I should have planted for this year. I need to double or triple this next year!

Onion - We hope to get the hang of seed starting this year so we can start our onions indoors from seed next year. In the meantime, we are buying pricier plants of Patterson storage onions.

Strawberries - Our plants from 2011 and 2012 survived the summer and have nicely filled in. The Lord willing, we should have an excellent harvest of Earliglow and Tribute strawberries this year.

Lettuces - We are planting Encore Lettuce Mix and Winter Density, two favorites of ours. We are also adding Forellenschluss, a pretty spotted lettuce whose name means 'Speckled Trout Back'. Fun!

Spinach - We grew 'Corvair' last year and really liked it. I only eat spinach as a baby salad green and I don't like savoyed leaves, so it worked great for us. Unfortunately, Johnny's no longer carries that variety so we will be growing its replacement, Pigeon.

Tomatoes - Ah, the king of the summer garden! We have some new tricks up our sleeves to use on our tomatoes this year. Our yield was drastically reduced by the weather, but we think that with sufficient mulching, proper watering, and pruning, we might do better this year, even in a drought. We are growing Amish Paste, Green Zebra, Brandywine (Sudduth's Strain), Gold Medal, Italian Heirloom, and Dester varieties. Baker Creek sent us a free packet of Gypsy tomato seeds, so we will be attempting to start that variety from seed. The rest will be transplants. We didn't want to chance our whole summer's crop on beginner seed starter's luck!

Peppers - Peppers will be one of our most challenging plants to start from seed this year. More on that in mid-March when we start them. We are growing Bull Nose Bell, Chocolate Beauty, Traveler Jalapeno, Aurora, and King of the North.

Broccoli - We hope that by starting Waltham 29  indoors that we will actually get to taste some homegrown broccoli. We're planting broccoli, cabbage, and kale in mid-February, so more on that soon.

Cauliflower - Hubby Dear really wanted to grow Purple of Sicily which is, unsurprisingly, a purple cauliflower. I remain skeptical about this choice.

The south half of the garden. Next year we will finally have all our garden boxes
built for a total of  608 intensively managed sq. ft.

Green beans - How could we not go with our famous "zombie beans"? Just when you think they are dead from the heat of summer, they spring back to life and produce a second crop. Provider it will be again this year.

Cabbage - Farao is one of the very few hybrids that we still grow, but I am very loyal to this variety. It is easy to grow and tastes great. I just need to learn to like sauerkraut so I don't have to make umpteen batches of  bierocks when the cabbages all get harvested at once!

Radish - Radishes were one crop that we were never short of last year. We are growing Early Scarlet Globe, Watermelon, and White Icicle this time around. I vaguely remember reading about someone using White Icicle Radishes as a trap crop for aphids and other pests, so that is why that variety got added to the mix.

Cantaloupe - We will grow Kansas again.

Carrot - The carrot is our gardening nemesis. It doesn't matter what permutations we have tried with watering, depth of planting, etc., we have not had very good luck with carrots at all. Hope springs eternal, because we're trying again, this time with Bolero pelleted seeds.

Peas, Pod - Sugar Sprint, another repeat.

Peas, Shelling - We're switching to Little Marvel for reasons of economy. We really liked the Lincoln variety we grew last year but this kind is much cheaper. Those pennies add up.

Beets - We're trying Chioggia again as well as Detroit Dark Red.

Swiss Chard - Five Color Silverbeet We're growing an awful lot of this vegetable and no one in our family even likes it! It is very pretty and the poultry loves it.

Eggplant - Again, not a vegetable that most folks in my family will eat, but Mini Me wants to grow it and we're starting Florida High Bush eggplant from seed.

Potato - Yukon Gold again.

We've got our fingers crossed that the insanely hot temperatures and drought abate this summer so that all the love we're pouring into our garden will translate into some actual food. While I love square foot gardening, we found out the hard way that heat and drought hits a raised bed filled with Mel's Mix much harder than it does the soil at large. That's one reason we'll be deepening our boxes in upcoming seasons.

Beneficial Insect Attractants/Companion Plants: 

We garden organically, so the only pesticides we will use in our garden is my pest repellent spray, a bit of Bt (a type of bacteria that kills caterpillars) for cabbage worms, diatomaceous earth for creepy crawlies, and some neem oil for wee vicious beasties like squash bugs.

This year we decided to focus on attracting the good kind of insects to our garden, the kinds that will eat the baddies up while leaving our veggies alone. Certain flowering plants attract beneficial insects and our plan is to sprinkle them liberally around the garden. They include:

Dill and Basil - We usually plant these only in my herb garden near the house, but they are also awesome beneficial and companion plants.

I'll be interested to see what difference these plants will make in our garden. At the very least, it will be more colorful!

Out of the garden:

We never have enough room for all the plants we want to experiment with.

Jellymelon - Hubby Dear has been intrigued by this plant for years. Also known as the African Horned Cucumber, it supposedly tastes like a mix of pomegranate and citrus. I wasn't willing to substitute this for cantaloupe or another of our regular vine plants, so we will try to grow this among the baby trees in our orchard.

Sunflowers - We grew Peredovik black oil sunflowers for our birds last year. They loved it! We are tripling the amount we are going to plant, plus adding American Giant sunflowers and a Sunflower Mixture just for fun. The sunflower patch will be sited south of our main garden and east of our orchard.

"Chicken Mix" - We are going to build our birds their very own square foot garden (covered with hardware cloth so they can't scratch it up) in their run and sow it with an Omega 3 chicken forage blend.

That, more or less, is what we have planned. Have you made your garden plans and purchases yet? 


  1. Oh my gosh! I am so impressed! We are still trying to find the time to go through the seed catalog. It looks like you have a huge garden. We will have a bigger one next year because we're taking trees out that block the sun. We're going to try the purple cauliflower too :) Funny stuff!
    Great job on your plot. It gives me the motivation I need to get on the ball.


    1. Our garden really isn't so big, although as Hubby Dear points out to me every time I want to expand, it keeps us plenty busy! Spring will be here before you know it. :)

      Good luck on your garden planning.


  2. Good Luck with your garden this year!! Hopefully we will have more rain and not so much heat!! :)

  3. sorry...thought of something else...maybe you can help...last year was our first year with our square foot garden. Our boxes look a little less full this year. Have you ever had to add some more mel's mix in the spring or do you just add some compost? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Katie! Yes, we add more compost every year. If the box looks particularly low, we top it up with additional Mel's Mix.