We’re on the homestretch in the garden now, so it’s time to start making notes for next year.
First, double the size, again. There’s still a little bit of room in the old garden, but not much. Fortunately, about half of this year’s potato patch can be planted to other crops without raised beds. That won’t quite double it, but close enough. No raised beds is important because we’ve used up all our backlog of compost.: We don’t have 20 cubic yards of good soil to fill that many beds. We can break new ground for potatoes. I’m not sure what to do with the boulder-strewn half of the potato patch.
Next, double the onions, quadruple or more the garlic. Last fall we planted three bulbs worth of hard-neck garlic, purchased down in Gilsum. It thrived, it’s wonderful, I saved 12 bulbs to plant and we’ll be out of the rest by Labor Day. (Pickles use garlic.) We’d buy more, but the place in Gilsum hasn’t opened this year, leaving me fearing that it won’t. I think I’ll order some from Jung’s as well. A good keeping soft-neck for sure, maybe a hard-neck as well. Even if it won’t keep past Christmas, now is when we need it for pickling and canning. Garlic goes in the deep bed we made for the sweet potatoes, and we’ll fill the rest of it with carrots and parsnips.
Onions we simply don’t have enough of. Lisa doesn’t like planting them (too tedious), but I’m here now too, and I don’t mind. There will be no chickens (or horses, cows or sheep) in the garden next year, so they’ll only have to be planted once. I chose the copra variety two years ago because it’s supposed to be a good keeper. We wouldn’t know. I’m torn about trying other varieties. Like garlic, we go through a lot of onions during canning season, so not all the crop needs to keep well. However, I really like the taste of the Copras. I’m definitely sticking with buying plants. They just work, and we’re doing way too many new things all the time.
The heirloom broccoli rocks. We tried to save seed, but we’re having trouble capturing it. The little pods fall off so fast that I’m not actually sure they’re fertile. I guess we’ll be paying through the nose an Amazon again next year.
The two big lessons (so far) for next year are: 1. Draw a garden plan, including succession plantings, so we can buy all the seed we need in January. 2. Keep all the seed safe and in one place so we can still find it in August.
2 thoughts on “Garden Notes”
I’ve planted Copra for 20+ years and love it because it stores until the following year’s crop matures. I also grow Ruby Ring and Red Bull, two hard red onions that keep nearly as well. Buy them all as seed from Johnny’s, start them in February under lights (I sow them fairly thickly in recycled plastic containers (about 3″ deep, the size ground meat or mesclun salad mixes come in–my co-workers save them for me), and plant them outside in mid-April after hardening off.
As for saving the heirloom broccoli that bursts its pods so unexpectedly, try tying paper sandwich bags loosely around the green pods, securing the bag with a Velcro tie or a piece of string. As the pods dry, the seeds will burst out into the bag and you can store them in a cool, dry location along with your other saved seeds.
You may find broccoli volunteers coming up all over the garden next spring, anyway. All you’ll need to do is thin ’em out, or dig ’em up for transplanting where you want them to go.
I’m deliberately keeping a limit on the new things we try. I know why the onion seed failed last year, we’ll keep buying plants until I have time to give them separate lights from the other plants.