By April I am usually too impatient to wait any longer for night temperatures to warm up to 50 degrees, so I usually just go ahead and plant the garden on the first warm sunny weekend in mid-April. This year it seemed like we had a colder than usual stretch of below 40 degree nights, but by last weekend it appeared to be over so I decided it was finally time to plant the warm season vegetables. I started most of my veggies from seed this year, and transferred them to the greenhouse about a month ago. Last weekend I planted tomatoes, eggplant, anaheim chilies, red and orange bell peppers, cucumbers, and squash. I’m growing 8 varieties of tomatoes this year – a couple of early varieties (Manitoba and Moskvich), a large Brandywine-like heirloom from our neighbor Clancy, a variety called Longkeeper that is supposed to store for up to 3 months(!), Black Plum, Taxi, Orange Blossom, and Tigerlike. I haven’t grown eggplant in quite a few years, and the last time I grew it I don’t think I ended up with a single eggplant to harvest. This year I am growing an extra early variety called Millionaire, and I am hoping for better luck than I’ve had in the past. I also have not had much luck with bell peppers, so those are being grown in the greenhouse, and since it easily gets up to 90 degrees inside I am feeling confident that I’ll have success growing bell peppers this year. I’m growing three varieties of cucumber – my favorite lemon cucumber, and also a green bush variety and a miniature white skinned variety. The squash were planted in the new planting bed near the greenhouse. The varieties I planted include yellow crookneck, zucchini, acorn, butternut, delicata, hubbard (green, baby blue, and Anna Swartz – an excellent storage variety), spaghetti, gourds, and pumpkins.
The cool season veggies including spinach, lettuce, broccoli, kale, onions, and potatoes were planted a few weeks ago. I was a little slow to get the seeds started for the swiss chard and the bok choy, but those should be ready to plant out in a couple of weeks. This year I am growing the potatoes in boxes – well actually stackable wood frames that you fill with straw or mulch as the potato plants grow and add additional frames and layers of straw as the potatoes grow higher and higher. The strawberries, blueberries and raspberries all have tons of flower blossoms, and now that we have hung a bird scare out of repurposed CDs we should get a bumper berry crop this year. Last year the birds ate 99% of our blueberries and raspberries, and I am not exaggerating! The other garden chore I’ve been hard at work at for the last couple of months is hauling wood shavings up to the garden and spreading them on the paths between all the beds. I have to say the garden is really looking great this year!