Monday, January 11, 2010

Vegetables we have had success with

Vegetables we have had some success with (all heirloom)

The definition of heirloom I use is varieties of plants that have been passed down for many generations (proven) and seeds tend to remain true from year to year even when they are openly pollinated. We keep the seeds from the best vegetables each year at the end of the growing season to plant the following year. Many hybridized seeds will cross pollinate with other varieties of the same vegetable and so if you keep the seeds at the end of the season, you do not know what you will get the next year. Below is an article on how to save your own seeds:

A good days harvest in early August!

We have had a lot of success with the following vegetables:

Arugula, Kale, Chard, Spinach, Lettuce (Hoop House):

Here is our garden in spring. We have just planted the tomatoes (on the right) in wide rows. We are just starting to build the hoop house over the cool season vegies. You can see them inside the boards that will be the support for the future hoop house. Wide rows are the only way to go with your garden. The basic idea is that with wide rows you can get 5 times more vegies in the same amount of space as if you planted single rows, because you do not have all the wasted space between the rows.

Here are the lettuce, Arugula, kale, spinach, chard, radishes and carrots mid summer under 50% shade clothe of the hoop house doing great. You can see how this is a more effective use of space than a single row of lettuce with 3' aisles on both sides.

Tomatoes, Peppers and Tomatillos: All need a lot of sun and are grown best with tomato basket supports. I have the best luck with grape, cherry and banana tomatoes as they produce so much and they don’t get big enough to crack or rot. The biggest tomato I grow is a Roma. Larger tomatoes tend to either grow very slow or really fast after a rain and split. I have learned to not fight whatever comes difficult. Why try to overcome the obstacles of growing difficult tomatoes when there are so many varieties that are easy. This is true with most vegetables.

Tomatoes are the best! Cherry and grape varieties are easy and produce all summer long.

Tomatillos are fun, easy and make great salsa! They grow just like tomatoes, in full sun. They need support or they will vine along the ground and take up a lot of space.

Beans are our best protein staple other than nuts and they do very well. We grow them in tomato cages so that they can vine up and be supported. Soybeans and bush beans can support themselves. More on this later!

Peas do well in spring and fall and they also grow on tomato cages in our garden. More on this later!

Asparagus is an absolutely perfect plant as it is perennial and it requires no care. We get new shoots for about 2 months from spring into early summer. Every garden must have asparagus. Pickled asparagus is almost as good as pickled okra.

Carrots, Potatoes, Beets and Turnips do better in our garden every year. Each year our soil gets better and looser and deeper and you can tell by the length and quality of our carrots. The more compost we add to our native clay soil the better our root crops do.

These potatoes were planted barely in the soil and then covered with 6" of straw. It was amazingly easy to harvest. We just pulled back the broken-down straw and the potatoes were right at the surface of the soil. I did let this patch get pretty weedy over summer.

Peanuts of the Jumbo Virginia variety are great. We have not had as much luck with the Spanish varieties and I think they produce less per plant.

Peanut harvest
Picking peanuts out of the ground is super fun.

Onions, Garlic: More on this later!

Chick Peas: More on this later!

Soy Beans: More on this later!

Cucumbers, Zuchinni, Squash: We love spaghetti squash and butternut, but all the others are a waste of space in my opinion. We have several types of cucumbers. They are great producers for the amount of space. I love this apple cucumber we get from It is great to eat whole like a round apple, as the name implies, as well as some pickling cucumbers and a Marketmore variety. We also love a Gherkin Cucumber we got that is an amazing vine. It is self seeding since the first year we planted it and is so hardy I actually have to weed it out of parts of my garden. This Gherkin has tiny fruit that are about the size of a quarter, but it produces all summer (until frost) and a single vine growing on a tomato basket will produce hundreds of fruit. I have found that Gherkins, Tomatoes, Huckleberries, Arugula and Ground Cherries are some of my worst weeds as my garden matures. It’s a good problem to have.

After growing seeds indoors, to get them started prior to the last frost in spring, we gradually move them outside to harden them off before they go in the ground.

Some vegetables require too much space for the amount of food you get in return. Sometimes we grow pumpkins because they are fun to have, but I have found that most pumpkins and melons are not a very efficient use of space.

I have had very little luck with wheat, corn, and broccoli as corn requires too much nitrogen and depletes the soil and broccoli is hard to get the heads to produce before worm damage sets in. I am convinced that each area is different and the best thing to do is to start growing seeds of different vegetables to see where you have success and keep those seeds while trying new ones each year, adding to your staples.

No comments:

Post a Comment