What's Growing? January 7th
We always start our year planning the gardening. That means that my spreadsheet is what is growing this time of year (and all my scratch paper).
I use spreadsheets for most things these days. I had already started a file with all the preferred seeds and vendors from the last year. I tend to forget details from the last year, so writing things down helps me. My most helpful file from last year was a spreadsheet that was my journal and included gardening notes, rain amounts, along with my reading and other events. A spreadsheet journal works way better for me than any other kind. *I got the idea from an article I read on a tech website, but I can't remember where.
- First, I narrowed down the list of plants to just what I wanted to grow. This was a hard but freeing exercise this year. Usually, we add more plants and more varieties. We cut away at things that are hard to grow or that aren't worth the effort this year. For example, our kids don't care for my homegrown carrots because they taste so much like dirt, so I'm not going to waste the time and space on those (I liked them though. I think they just taste like good, flavorful carrots.). We also cut down our field garden to just popcorn, dry beans, okra, Dickenson Field Squash, and one watermelon. That is a far cry from our usual plans for that field, but it is much more manageable. We will let a local farmer grow the other varieties of squash and watermelons that we like. We can easily get excellent Beardstown, IL watermelons. There is also a farm near us with 100ish varieties of pumpkin and squash at really good prices. It just makes sense for us to buy them from there and grow what we can and enjoy most.
- After narrowing down what plants we wanted, I planned the garden beds. I planned around the plants that needed their spaces for a long time, then I filled in around those with plants that can grow and then be followed by other quick-growing plants.
- Then I picked my new cherry tomato variety. Cherry tomatoes are my favorite plant to grow and eat. That is why I love even more than larger tomatoes. We have several varieties that we love, but most of our heirlooms fade out at the end of the season. We eat a lot of cherry tomatoes with 8 people in the house, so I try to keep well-stocked from July-October. Sungold still grows strong all the way to our first frost, but the skin is thin and they don't taste as good towards the end. I wanted to find a hybrid cherry tomato to grow all the way to the end. I really like two tomatoes that I have from Fred Hempel at Artisan Seeds--Sunrise Bumblebee and Pink Bumblebee. Their taste is spectacular! They produce well but do fade as the season goes on. I didn't want to simply plant more (although I am planting a couple more open-pollinated cherry toms). I like his philosophy of breeding and his helpfulness. I read a lot about his varieties to see what would be a fit. I landed on Pink CherryWine F1 because it has hybrid vigor, good taste, and the tomatoes hold well off the vine without splitting or going soft quickly. I was interested in Golden CherryWine F1, but it sounds like the plant is not totally stable. He says that some seeds from the lot end up different in color and taste through a cryptic variation, though still good. I don't have enough space to take the risk of getting the variation.
- Then I picked and ordered seeds. I have a lot of the seeds I need for the season, so I went through my files and made my lists of what to buy. Then the fun started. I'm excited about some of the varieties of brussels sprouts, cilantro, basil, and zinnias. I ordered from Gurney's, Park Seed, and Artisan Seeds.
- Varieties I'm excited about: Hestia Hybrid Brussels Sprouts. Calypso Cilantro to hopefully have slower bolting from the cilantro. Dolce Fresca Basil from Park Seed to have a slow-to-flower basil in the heat.
- I picked several varieties of AAS winners (All-America Selections). We have had really good success with other winners, so I value winners pretty highly. The Green Light F1 cucumbers were incredible last year. I've never seen cucumbers do like that did.
- I'm reading Plant Science for Gardeners by Robert Pavlis. It is so excellent.
What are you planning for your garden? Any favorite cherry tomato?