Saturday, February 2, 2013

Preliminary 2013 Garden Plans

January is the month to plan your summer garden. All the seed companies send out catalogs, and looking at the pictures of the vegetables and fruit is food porn. The biggest changes I plan to make to the 2013 garden are to plant another 25 asparagus plants, expand the tomato plantings to include Roma paste tomatoes, and plant garden peas more extensively. Most of the rest of the veggies will be the same: potatoes, cabbage, beans, beets, peppers, etc. I will move the potatoes to an area less prone to flooding, plant two more rhubarb plants, start shallot bulbs alongside the garlic from last fall, and plant kale and chard with the cabbages. The raspberries will be in their third year, and should start to produce, and the first asparagus plantings will be three years old and be ready to harvest. And cucumbers, which will be trellised this year to save space. No squash, as it really isn't a very efficient use of the limited space I have (35 'x 70').
2013 Proposed Garden Layout
This is a pretty optimistic garden, but what will be dramatically different this year compared to 2012 is that I won't be teaching and have such a very limited ability to get to the farm in a timely manner. This year, I will be able to plant just at the right time, and be there to keep things in order and watered until seeds germinate. Last year, the first planting of green beans had a 0% germination rate, as did the lima beans and beet seeds. Plus, the potatoes sat in standing water until they rotted, during a two week period when we couldn't get to WVa. I guess you learn what is successful and plant that again, and figure out why unsuccessful crops failed. In the case of the 2012 green beans, they were planted too early and sat in the ground during cold rainy weather. They were replanted in the raised bed in late May, and did fine.

Another major change for 2013 is a scientifically based plan for seed start and planting dates, with dates based on a more realistic last-frost date of May 15. It just doesn't warm up that quickly at 3,000' in the mountains, and stays very cool at night all the way through the summer. With this more reasonable planting schedule, crops will be more productive.

Seed Starting System
What is also new for 2013 is a pretty serious seed starting system I build from a wire shelving unit and simple fluorescent shop lights (Lowes). This will house eight standard 10" x 20" starting trays, two/shelf, and can be covered with plastic to keep the temperature regulated. The shelves will be lined with 1" styrofoam to trap heat and reduce unwanted airflow, and I may buy a small computer fan to circulate air to even temperatures. The fluorescent lights will put out sufficient heat to keep temperatures around 70 °F. I also bought a tray heating mat to provide more controlled heat for germination. In previous years, we have set the trays with the newly planted seeds on a heat vent in our bathroom, not a very controlled system.

The seeds were ordered in mid-January from Johnny's, Jung, and Burpees, and have all arrived, except the potatoes, which will arrive in late March. The tomatoes will be grown both in Columbus and in West Virginia, and we will plant lettuces and arugula in Columbus and in the raised bed in West Virginia.

Bean - Blue Lake 274 Potato - Carola
Bean - Provider Potato - German Butterball
Beet - Detroit Supreme Potato - Laratte
Beet - Golden Potato - Nicola
Cabbage - Jersey Wakefield Potato - Red Pontiac
Cabbage - King Slaw Hybrid Potato - Red Thumb
Cucumber - Homemade Pickles Shallot - Golden
Cucumber - Muncher Shallot - Holland Red
Cucumber - Straight Eight Spinach - Salad Fresh
Eggplant - Millionaire Swiss Chard - Bright Lights
Endive - Green Curled Ruffec Tomato - Big Boy
Garlic Tomato - Black Cherry
Kale - Black Magic Tomato - Black Krim
Kale - Dwarf Blue Curled Vates Tomato - Garden Peach
Pea - Green Arrow Tomato - Orange Blossom
Pea - Laxton's Progress No. 9 Tomato - Roma
Pea - Little Marvel Tomato - Sungold
Pea - Progress No. 9 Tomato - Sweet Baby Girl
Pepper - Ancho San Martin Tomato - Yellow Pear
Pepper - Calabrese
Pepper - Mucho Nacho Jalapeño
Pepper - Padron

For the cabbage, peas and tomatoes, I will plant early and late season plants.

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