Wednesday, February 23, 2011


It's seed catalog season.  This makes me very excited.  I peruse through the catalog, reading about the different crops I could plant, thinking about all the possibilities of delicious fruit and vegetables I will be picking and enjoying, still warm from the sun. 

Last year, I went all out.  In previous years, I have only used half or 2/3 of my planting space, but last year, not only did I use the whole bed I have in the backyard, I also used areas newly open in the front yard.  Even with all that, I felt like I didn't have enough space.  As a refresher for me, I'm gonna list what I planted last year:

* Green Beans (Bush and Pole)
* Cabbage
* Broccoli
* Soybeans (which were a giant fail)
* Sugar Pumpkins
* Yellow zucchini
* Radishes
* Sunflowers
* Carrots
* Cucumbers (also a giant fail)
* Tomatoes (Cherry, which did great, the heirlooms were another fail- damn Seattle summers!)
* Potatoes
* Onions
* Lettuce (chicken love!)
* Green Shiso (aka Beefsteak leaf or Perilla)
* I think that's it... unless you count the pear and apple trees.

Wow, pretty good huh?  Now granted, I couldn't plant too much of anything since I was limited on space. I do green beans every year because the yield is so high without much effort.  The zucchini did not do as well as they usually do, I actually missed having to scramble to hide zucchini in everything I cooked.  Everyone knows about my love affair with my pumpkins and my anger with the soybeans.

The issue I'm having this year is whether to plant less variety but more of each crop or try to experiment with other new crops.  I'm totally planting sunchokes (or Jerusalem artichokes) in the front bed since for some reason I REALLY want to try them out.  I hope I don't have to wait until fall...  Shawn really wants to do cantaloupe and I would love to do twice as many onions and potatoes.  I'm thinking about using some extra beds I haven't used before and also get a small greenhouse for the tomatoes, cucumbers, and maybe lettuce.  So I should have a little more space than last year.

The big problem I see for this growing season are the three expertly trained bulldozers I now have rampaging through our backyard.  These feathered dinosaurs have expertly dug up any and all moss around the edges of the lawn and do a great job turning the soil and eating anything and everything in the garden bed that is not dirt, and sometimes they eat that too.  I think their presence is going to help the garden a lot though.  They do a great job flipping the compost pile and I'm hoping we have less weeds and aphids this year because of their efforts.  We also now have a vast supply of composted chicken manure, so that saves me some money.  Permaculture, anyone?  Not quite, but wouldn't that be sweet?

Thinking about all this just gets me giddy with the excitement of dirt constantly under my fingernails, the warm sun toasting my shoulders, the little signs of life as dormant seeds shoot out their baby greens, and of course, the wriggly worms that are my gardening companions.  Now to wait until spring.  I guess in the meantime I'll rig up some good fencing and keep daydreaming with my seed catalogs...

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