Welcome to the 2012 edition in the collective blog series: Painting Our Black Thumbs Green. You can find other related posts in Veggies Squared. This blog meme is held in conjunction with Christina of The Table has Shoes and Other Ambiguities. Last year we both conducted fairly successful experiments in edible gardening… and this year we’re hoping to be even more successful! Follow us through another exciting year of organic vegetable gardening!
This week’s topic: Plans for 2012
Find out about what Christina has in store for her garden in 2012 here.
When Christina and I planned this post I thought I could commit to our selected schedule. It was perfect really. And then, travel happened. My schedule got all out of whack and I sent her an apologetic email telling her that she was welcome to post her garden plans whenever she had them ready, mine would follow shortly behind. I also welcomed her to chastise me publicly on her blog… a little chastisement can go a long way in ensuring folks do things in a timely manner. She assured me that no chastisement would be necessary. I would like to point out that I’m more than a week late. I clearly needed a little chastisement. With that said, I recently read an interesting article that provided some excellent fodder for this post so I’m quite pleased that I’m a chronic procrastinator!
The Plan for 2012
I think that I’m going a little crazy this year. When “winter” hit this year and all the seed catalogs started rolling in I just couldn’t choose. So I bought it all. OK, well not all of it. That really would have been crazy. But I’m adding two additional blocks in the back, two additional potato bags, and two carrot bags in addition to the carrots in the garden. In the front I’m going to supplement the raised bed with an in-ground bed of lettuce. And what prompted all of these additional plantings?
Here’s the list of new seeds for this year:
- Aunt Lou’s Underground Railroad Tomato
- San Marzano Tomato
- Illini Gold Tomato
- Heinz 1350 VF Tomato
- Green Zebra Tomato
- 1429 Helios Radish
- French Breakfast Radish
- Cannellini Lingot Beans
- Red Ryder Beans
- Calypso Beans
- Rubine Brussels Sprouts
- Jerusalem Artichokes
- Danvers Carrot
- Cosmic Purple Carrot
- Rosa Bianca Eggplant
- Forellenschluss Lettuce
- Mantilla Lettuce
- Meveille De Quatre Saisons Lettuce
- Grandpa Admire’s Lettuce
- Tennis Ball Lettuce
- Red Romain Lettuce
- Winter Density Lettuce
- Yugoslavian Red Butterhead Lettuce
- All Blue Potato
- German Butterball Potato
- Rose Finn Apple Potato
- Mountain Rose Potato
Last year I was super not excited about a lot of the tomatoes that I planted. I didn’t get to eat a single Old Virginia Tomato. The Yellow Pear tomatoes were awful and I ripped them out halfway through the season. I had a couple of Hugh’s Tomatoes, but not that many… I may try them again. The Mini Orange, Black Prince, and Persimmon Tomatoes were good, but production wasn’t great. And I don’t think the seeds we got for the Costoluto Genovese Tomatoes were even the right variety; when we visited the farmer’s market their Costolutos looked way different from ours. I also didn’t grow a single paste tomato last year, so no tomato sauces for me. I’m rectifying that omission this year with the Heinz, Illini Gold and San Marzano Tomatoes. And I’m placing them inside the regular garden squares. I also decided to add a Green Zebra tomato seedling. I had such a good experience with my Bitonto Tomato from Territorial Seed that I decided it wasn’t worth it for me to grow it from seed.
I also went a little crazy on the potatoes. I had a great time with potatoes last year, and grew All Blue and Yukon Gold (two classics in the potato world). When I was browsing around Seed Savers Exchange so many caught my eye that I just couldn’t resist them. I will be growing the potatoes in potato bags again this year… so easy!
I loved my carrots last year (I actually still have some in the fridge that are good!) but I kind of missed the big huge carrots that you get from the farmer’s market or the grocery store. So, in addition to the two carrots I grew last year, I’m also going to grow Danvers Carrots and Cosmic Purple Carrots in bags.
I wanted to grow Jerusalem Artichokes (sometimes called Sunchokes) last year, but never got around to ordering them. I’ve heard from more than one source that they’re really invasive so I’ll be growing these in bags as well. Hopefully that will keep them contained!
Problems from 2011
The biggest problem that I had in 2011 was sunlight in the garden space. Despite all my efforts in sun mapping, the back yard garden space just isn’t very sunny. The 6-foot privacy fence that is all too necessary to keep the dogs contained casts a little too much shadow starting around 2pm in the afternoon. Some of the tomatoes suffered and the winter squash didn’t have a chance. We talked about many different solutions:
- Moving the garden to the front yard (still something that we may have to consider in 2013)
- Taking down the 6-foot privacy fence and replacing it with picket fencing just in the garden space area (though I’m nearly certain that one of the Dals would go soaring over it and racing into the back part of the property)
- Rearranging the boxes.
Challenges on the Road Ahead
According to Landreth Seed Company, 2010’s incredibly wet season coupled by the incredibly mild winter that has allowed me to enjoy my lettuce all the way into January might spell trouble for our tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant. All this wet, warm weather has provided the perfect environment for early, mid and late season blight. Just as the old adage goes – Hope for the best, prepare for the worst – Landreth recommends treating your soil with a copper fungicide. Copper fungicide is safely approved for organic gardening and can be used all the way up to the day of harvest if necessary.
Here’s their formula:
- Dust the copper fungicide on your soil before you plant and till into your soil (consult the package for the appropriate ratios… Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions)
- On the day you plant your seedlings dust the seedlings.
- Repeat your dusting every 2 weeks after planting for an additional 2 dustings
- If you notice signs of blight on your plants (spotting on the lower stems and leaves), dust them again with the copper fungicide and repeat once more in 5-7 days.
It’s incredibly important to treat for blight because the spores can be wind-born for 50 miles from their origination. In addition, the spores can lay dormant in the soil for nearly 10 years. Not treating will not only affect your garden for years to come, but also your neighbors’ gardens!
So… what’s in your garden this year? Are you making adjustments to what you’re planting because of the possible blight epidemic on the East Coast? Any problems that you’re hoping to fix by a new plan this year? I’d love to hear about all your gardening plans for 2012!