It’s taken us a couple of years, but we feel we are at a point where we can start doing some actual gardening.
Last might, the girls and I went over our Vesey’s catalog and placed our order.
We really had to exercise restraint in the process! There are so many things we’d like to plant, but we’re just not ready for them.
When selecting what we’d like to get, we had several considerations to take into account.
First, we mostly limited ourselves to growing things that will be eaten. With limited areas we can plant in, we want to get the most out of that space. Over the years, we will plan out areas for things like bee and butterfly flower gardens, as well as utilizing flowers that deter deer. For now, however, we’ll stick to food.
With the spaces we have right now, we decided to not get any fruit trees or berry bushes, either. We’ve got the haskap we planted last year, but it looks like one of them died in the fall. If so, we’ll replace that one, but that’s the extent of our perennial food plants for this year. We’ll continue to work with what is already here, though we are aiming to eventually plant many of these sorts of things.
As we went through the selections, we also asked ourselves things like, will we actually eat this enough to make it worth growing ourselves? Will they grow in the spaces we have? Will they need to be started indoors? How long is their growing season? According to the notation with our address on the catalog, they rate us at Zone 2a, but looking at the zone map on the Vesey website, we’re actually firmly in a 3b zone, so that does open up our choices a bit. Still, there are many things we’d like to grow that we’ll have to wait until we can create micro-climate zones, or acquire a greenhouse.
So this is what we finally settled on.
A Coloured Carrot Collection. Regular carrots are cheap and easy to find, so if we’re going to plant carrots, it may as well be varieties we can’t find in the grocery store! This collection includes Deep Purple, Rainbow (a range of yellows and oranges) and White Satin. That’s a lot of carrots, but we use them in a lot of things, and if we have enough for winter storage, that’ll be good, too! Winter storage is not a major goal for this year, though.
Cucamelon. This is one of our “try something new” things. We’ve never actually seen any, other than in photos! I know someone who has grown them, they did really well for him, and he quite enjoyed them. They are supposed to be very productive and disease resistant, too. I’m really looking forward to seeing what these taste like!
Summer Surprise Mix Squash. Unlike most of the collections they have, this one has a “surprise” mix of 5 different types of zucchini. At least it looks like 5 different types in their photo, though the description lists only 4; “dark green, light green, yellow and striped zucchini“. Young zucchini is something we enjoy eating, but the ones from the store tend to be expensive, and go squishy way too fast. The challenge is going to be keeping the plants under control! 😀 I’m aiming to build a trellis for them, and limit the number of plants. Hopefully, we’ll be able to tell the seeds apart enough to try to get one of each, at least.
Sunburst Squash. This is something we’ve tried to grow on our balcony in the past, with limited success. We don’t see them often in the grocery stores, and when we do, they’re awfully expensive, so it’ll be good to have our own supply.
Sunflowers: Early Russian and Giganteus. We chose these two varieties for very specific reasons. One, they grow really, really huge. Two, they can withstand high winds, and are recommended as wind breaks. They will be planted along the north and east sides of the old garden area, where there is less tree coverage to block winds and provide privacy from road traffic. And finally, three: both varieties are good for bird seed. The heads can be harvested and left to dry as they are, and we will be able to hang them up for the birds throughout the winter, as needed. We’ll just have to figure out how to store them! 🙂
Fennel: Orion Fennel is one of those things we’d love to buy more often, but either the budget is too tight, or they’re simply not available.
Yukon Gem Potatoes. This is another one where the produce is so easy to find and relatively cheap (though the cost of potatoes has certainly gone up, lately!) that, if we’re going to grow them, we may as well grow a variety we can’t find in the stores. We quite enjoy yellow flesh potatoes, and this variety is more disease resistant. In the future, we plan to try out other interesting varieties as well. We probably won’t get these with the rest of our order, as they get shipped after all danger of frost is past, so they can be planted right away. We are also looking to inter-plant them with marigolds, which deter the Colorado Potato Beetle. For the marigolds, we’ll just buy transplants from a garden centre.
Coloured Beet Collection. This collection includes the varieties Merlin (a dark red), Boldor (golden yellow), and Chioggia (alternating rings of purple and white). Beets are one of those things we don’t actually eat a lot of, but would like to. I keep looking at them in the grocery store, but can’t usually justify getting them, when there are other things I need more. So these are basically a treat vegetable! 🙂
Parsley: Starlette. I don’t use fresh herbs as often as I’d like, mostly because what we buy at the store just doesn’t keep well. I’ve picked up fresh herbs for a specific recipe, only to find them covered in mold by the next morning! Eventually, we plan to have many herbs, but for now, we will start with parsley. We chose this specific variety because it’s supposed to handle adverse weather conditions well, and have a longer shelf life after harvesting.
Bird House Gourds. This one was an extra I chose for myself, as I plan to make things with them. It’s a long term project, as the gourds need to sit for something like a year after they’ve been harvested, then have to be cleaned and scoured before they can be used for projects. I have a number of projects in mind for them, so I hope it works out. I’ve never grown gourds, before!
Lawn Mower Blade and Tool Sharpener. Okay, I did have to get at least one non-seed item! I saw the state of the blade on our push mower, and it’s pretty horrific. A lot of other yard and garden tools around here could use a good sharpening, too. This is a drill attachment, with a reversible wheel, and should last long enough for 10 lawnmower blade sharpenings. Since I’m sure the blades of the riding mower need sharpening, too, this will come in very handy!
So that’s it. This is what we are planning to grow this year. We’ve managed a mix of the familiar and the novel, the tried and true and the experimental. This is on top of a few things that we already have here, such as onions, chives, horseradish and grapes.
Hmm. I do hope the grapes survived the winter! I guess will find out, soon enough.
After two years of hacking and slashing things as we clean up the mess around the yard, it’ll feel really good to start planting and growing!