We received our first Seeds of the Month Club seeds, and I’m quite pleased with them. Eight different vegetable varieties come the first month, and I’ve never grown any of them before so am looking forward to trying them. We got Lemon Basil, Large Leaf Sorrel, Black Diamond Watermelon, Anaheim Chili Pepper, Thomas Laxton Pea, Green Globe Artichoke, Homestead Tomato, and Golden Wax Bean.
The back of the packets all give a description of the variety, days to germination, days to maturity, and all the information anyone would need on when, where, and how to plant as well as tips on care, harvesting, eating, and health benefits. It looks like it’s too late [...]
Continue reading First Seeds of the Month Are Here
This is our annual list of vegetable seeds for Bramblestone Farm, and updating the list has again made me anxious for spring. As always, I dream of a perfect garden – no weeds, abundant yields, no pests, and perfect produce – well it’s good to dream.
Many of the vegetable seeds on the list are left-over from previous years because seeds stay viable for several years (if carefully stored), and saving seeds from year to year cuts seed costs dramatically. If you scroll to the bottom of the list, you’ll see that our seed will cost under $40.00, even though we [...]
Continue reading Vegetable Seeds for the 2013 Garden
I’m writing about two cherry tomatoes that we grew this year, so that I don’t ever forget their names – they were great! We had only one plant of each, but we didn’t need any more; and I’ll bet we have about a million volunteer cherry tomato plants next year because we couldn’t keep up with them.
The first was a tiny, very prolific little red tomato called Matt’s Wild Cherry. It’s very tasty – like tomato candy.
The second was a slightly larger (about an 1″ in diameter at the largest) yellow cherry tomato called Sun Gold. It may just be the tastiest (in [...]
Continue reading Terrific Cherry Tomatoes
In our part of the country, we had a drought for most of the summer and then suddenly rain. The rain was very welcome, but caused some monster zucchini in our garden – much larger than I really wanted to use. So, what to do with all those monster zucchini – feed them to the chickens. They’re very happy to have them.
It’s seldom that we see the roosters taking a break and laying down, they’re usually on the alert for predators and food all the time. So, we were amused to see that even they were willing to sit down, take a break, and enjoy the [...]
Continue reading Monster Zucchini? Chicken Love Them
I love harvesting winter squash – as we’re rushing to get all the other garden veggies harvested and processed for winter storage; all the winter squash need is gathering, curing, and storing – chopping, cooking, canning or freezing not required! We’ve got a record batch this year too – I saved seed from several varieties last year, so we’ve got lots of squash and pumpkin coming in.
Winter squash should be harvested after the fruit turns a deep color and the rinds harden (usually during September and October), but definitely before heavy frost. The fruits should be cut from the vine carefully, leaving [...]
Continue reading Winter Squash: Harvesting, Curing, and Storing
Lazy Bed Potatoes
Since originally writing on how to grow potatoes using this method, we’ve made a couple of changes that gave us better results (see “Growing Potatoes: The Lazy Bed Method – IMPROVED!”), so I’ve incorporated those options into the method outlined below. Potatoes are such an easy and rewarding crop to grow, I hope everyone gives it a try.
The traditional method of planting potatoes involves digging a trench, placing seed potatoes in the trench, mounding soil around the potatoes as they grow, weeding, and finally digging the potatoes at harvest time. In the original “lazy bed method”, the seed potatoes [...]
Continue reading Growing Potatoes: The Lazy Bed Method + Improvements
This is our 2012 list of vegetable seeds for Bramblestone Farm. Every year I make up this list, and every year it makes me anxious for spring. Last year was the first year that the garden area was fenced (deer didn’t eat everything), that we had a light stand for starting transplants indoors, and that we used soil blocks for transplants; and it made a big difference in the amount and quality of produce – big improvement!
Many of the vegetables on the list are left-over from previous years (most seeds remain viable for several years), and saving these seeds from year to year cuts down [...]
Continue reading Vegetable Seeds for the 2012 Garden
We enjoy peppers that have ripened to the yellow or red stage rather than eating them green; however, getting peppers to ripen that far in Ohio’s short summers can be challenging. This year, I’d originally planned to grow Red Knight hybrid and Quadrato D’asti Rosso peppers in the garden (see Vegetables for the 2011 garden); but, my first sowing of peppers indoors didn’t make it - so I had to quickly replant with alternatives.
We ended up growing Golden California Wonder for yellow peppers and King Arthur hybrid for red peppers; and, have had a great crop of both ripening for the last several weeks. I’d like to say it was my [...]
Continue reading 2011 Garden Results – Sweet Peppers
Green pole beans can be great for the backyard garden because they produce all season long (no need to succession plant like bush beans), you don’t have to bend over to pick them, and they’re super productive; however, the taste and texture often aren’t as “refined” as bush green beans. So, for the past several years we’ve trialed a couple of different pole beans each year, looking for the ”perfect” bean – one that combines the growing convenience of a pole bean with the tenderness and taste of a bush bean.
Coming into 2011, the only pole bean that came close to our “perfect” bean so far was Blue Lake; and althought I prefer to use [...]
Continue reading 2011 Garden Results – Pole Beans
For the past two years, we’ve used the “Lazy Bed Method” for growing potatoes; and been relatively satisfied with the results. The potatoes were very simple to plant and maintenance was non-existent - just lift the potatoes when the growing season is over; however, the potato quality seemed to suffer somewhat from being grown above ground – insects nibbled on a few, some rotted, yield seemed a bit low, etc. So this year, I decided to modify the method just a bit, and the potatoes turned out great! I think we’ve got a method now that produces great potatoes with very little work [...]
Continue reading Growing Potatoes: The Lazy Bed Method “IMPROVED”
This year, I’m happy to report that we’re getting a bumper crop of sugar snaps peas; and they’re absolutely delicious. As a result, I’m documenting exactly what I know about growing them, in hopes that there’ll be more bumper crops in future years.
What Exactly Are Sugar Snaps?
Sugar snaps (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon), are a type of edible podded pea; similar to a snow pea except that their pods are round when mature rather than flat. They’re also similar to garden peas, except the pod is less fibrous, and can therefore be eaten when young. This eliminates the need for [...]
Continue reading Growing Sugar Snap Peas
My first try using soil blocks for starting seedlings wasn’t highly successful (see Seeding Soil Blocks) because I didn’t get my grow-lights up in time to keep the seedlings going. However, it wasn’t a total loss since I’m just reusing the 3/4″ blocks to start more seedlings. The photo below shows 2 week old tomato seedlings that were started in reused 3/4″ soil blocks. These were misted frequently, and everything germinated well – I used one seed per block, and nearly every seed germinated. A heating mat would speed germination up even more, so that’s on my list of needed garden items.
The great thing about the soil blocks is that you [...]
Continue reading Soil Block Tomato Seedlings
I used to think that growing potatoes was too much work for the end result. Then a friend’s homegrown Yukon Gold potatoes completely changed my mind. Like almost anything that’s homegrown, they just tasted so much better. For me, it should be safe to plant potatoes this week, so I brought my seed potatoes out to sprout them. Sprouting the potatoes encourages early growth, and speeds up production of tubers – something I’m always interested in because of our short season.
Sprouting Seed Potatoes
I purchased certified seed potatoes months ago (Yukon Gold and Purple Viking this year) when there was a [...]
Continue reading Cutting & Sprouting Seed Potatoes
This is my yearly list of vegetable seeds for planting, and almost all of them are tasty heirlooms. Just reading the descriptions makes my mouth water. At the bottom of the list, I totaled my cost to buy vegetable seed this year ($20.75), the cost if I didn’t save seeds ($73.50), and the cost of hybrid varieties ($122.70).
You can see from the hybrid vs. heirloom difference ($122.70 – $73.50 = $49.20) that hybrids are more expensive (I used typical hybrid prices from a large seed supplier who’s located in Pennsylvania and starts with a B). I wanted to check my claim [...]
Continue reading Vegetable Seeds for the 2010 Garden
These days, we’re all trying to cut costs without sacrificing quality, and growing heirloom vegetables is a smart strategy for doing just that. Heirloom vegetables are the old fashioned, open-pollinated varieties; meaning that they breed true from year-to-year. This leads to some definite benefits for the backyard gardener:
Heirloom Seeds Cost Less
There are two ways that heirloom seeds save money; they cost less than their hybrid counterparts, and you can save the seeds from year-to-year, thereby cutting seed costs. Hybrid seeds are the result of deliberately crossing different varieties (think labor intensive), so they’re typically more expensive [...]
Continue reading Heirloom Vegetables – Better for the Backyard Garden