“As I write, snow is falling outside my Maine window, and indoors all around me half a hundred garden catalogues are in bloom.”
— Katharine S. White
This is the fourth weekend in a row that it has snowed, not that we’re complaining. Unlike most, we haven’t quite tired of winter yet. With March right around the corner though, it’s time to direct our attention to a new season of planting. We got our seed orders by the end of December. As early as that seemed, some seeds were already sold out by then, like Andover parsnips, Par-Cel cutting celery, and Rat-tail radishes.
New for this year is the opportunity to join Fedco’s cooperative as a consumer member-owner. It may not increase our chances for next year’s order, nevertheless, we’re more than happy to support their efforts in providing safe, non-GMO seed and preserving biological diversity. The hand-written note from another of Maine’s local heroes, founder CR Lawn was an added bonus!
Looking back through our journals, we started out in 2008 with only two raised beds. Hard to believe this will be our sixth season of growing vegetables. Though we’re still learning, we continue to be amazed at how much of our own food we’re able to grow.
New for 2013
– Tromboncino Squash (F)
– Rat-Tail Radish
– Rossa Lunga di Tropea Onion (F)
– Italiko Rosso Chicory (F)
– Good King Henry (F)
– Beedy’s Camden Kale (F)
– Afina Cutting Celery (F)
– Shishito Pepper (HM)
– Spaghetti Squash (HM)
– Misticanza di Lattughe (SI)
– Misticanza di Lattughe Autunno-Inverno (SI)
– Agretti, Barba di Frate (SI)
– Senape Bianca, White Mustard (SI)
– Scuplit (SI)
– Erba Stella, Buck’s horn (SI)
BI – Botanical Interests
F – Fedco Seeds
J – Johnny’s Selected Seeds
JF – John Forti, The Heirloom Gardener
HM – High Mowing Organic Seeds
K – Kitazawa Seed Company
PG – Pinetree Garden
SI – Seeds from Italy
SS – Seed Savers Exchange
WP – Wood Prairie Farm
– 2012: Perennial plantings of chives, garlic chives, and Egyptian Walking Onions did well, providing the first of spring’s tonic greens. We planted a Welsh Onion as part of an order from Food Forest Farm, and must remember to check in spring to see if it survived. We’re still attempting to establish ramps (wild leeks), and planted some stock and scattered seed; success continues to elude us.
– 2013: We’ve never grown bulb onions, and will try Rossa Lunga di Tropea Onion (F), an Italian red variety that’s elongated in shape.
– See also Leeks.
– 2012: Planted a variety, some new, some old — Rocket (F) and Ice-Bred (F) were good for season extension. Sylvetta (SI) was let to go to seed, with the flowers providing late season pollen. Found that the Surrey (HM) lacked flavor. Wild Olive Leaf Rucola (SI) resembled regular arugula, not as depicted on the seed packet.
– 2013: Arugula OG (F), Ice-bred OG (F), Sylvetta (SI), Wild Olive Leaf Rucola (SI)
– 2012: Fifth season for the asparagus bed. Purple Passion (PG) more vigorous than the Jersey Supreme (PG). Need to continue working on soil fertility.
– 2013: Possibly replace some of the females, especially the green asparagus.
Beans & Peas
– 2012: Dragon Langerie Wax (F + saved seed) as a fresh wax bean, and as a shell and dried bean, Masai Haricot Verts (saved seed). Compared Cascine Fava (SI) against Italian varieties, Aguadulce (SI) and Super Aguadulce (SI) — preferred Superaguadulce and Cascine; germination problem w/Aguadulce; Cascine produced the longest. Green Arrow Shell Pea (HM).
– 2013: Masai, Cascine, Super Aguadulce, and Green Arrow. Drop the Dragon Langerie in favor of planting more favas and peas; plant more peas earlier in the season.
– 2012: Early Wonder (F), Bull’s Blood (HM), and Detroit Dark Red (HM). Fall planting failed to thrive, didn’t work with timing of garden rotation.
– 2013: Early Wonder (F); grow in spring only, and skip fall planting.
Brassicas & Chicories
– 2012: Spring planting of Spring Raab (HM), Tatsoi (HM), Fun Jen (F), Cima di Rapa Quarantina (SI), Catalogna Endive (?), and Misticanza di Radicchi (SI). Repeat plantings of the Tatsoi and Fun Jen in Fall; added Hon Tsai Tai (HM), Pan di Zucchero (F), Catalogna Puntarelle Brindisina (SI), and Cicoria Galatina (SI).
– 2013: Add Italiko Rosso Chicory (F).
– 2012: Brilliant (F); smaller, more conforming sized heads than previous years.
– 2013: Continue with Brilliant.
– 2012: Rainbow (HM), Fordhook Giant (HM) for season extension. Planted only 1 row of rainbow early spring that lasted entire season; planted Fordhook for season extension, not a big producer but may have been planted late; hardiness remains to be seen, check in spring.
– 2013: Rainbow, Fordhook Giant.
– 2012: Boothby’s Blonde (F); first planting got eaten by bugs, second planting did fine; heat caused slow start; National Pickling (seedling from Meadow’s Mirth); big producer, provided early cukes; green color of fruit blends in with leaves making it hard to see for harvesting.
– 2013: Boothby’s Blonde OG (F), and National Pickling or other seedling.
– 2012: Fairy Tale (J), Orient Express (J), with seedlings from Wake Robin Farm. Decreased planting to 2 plants each; heat caused blossom drop, produced fine once recovered.
– 2013: Fairy Tale and Orient Express. Need to find alternative to Fairy Tale, now owned by Seminis.
– 2012: Perfection (HM), Finale (HM). Cut and come again all season; let some flower — provided late season pollen for bees, culinary uses for flowers and green seeds.
– 2013: Add Orion (HM). Remember to collect fennel pollen.
– 2012: Phillips (F), Music (F), German Extra Hardy, Rossa di Sulmona (SI). First three garlic are now adapted to our microclimate; continue using saved seed. Add Rossa di Sulmona (SI); planted it separate from the other garlic to avoid contamination. Remember to let the leaves of next year’s garlic die back more before harvesting; clean garlic directly after harvesting by peeling outer layer; don’t cure in garage (too moist, cures too slowly). Problems with mites with this season’s stored garlic; need to avoid successive allium and garlic crops. Increased bulb size for Phillips; selected for fewer cloves for Music; dropped German Extra Hardy; second year for Rossa di Sulmona.
– 2013: Phillips, Music, Rossa di Sulmona.
– 2012: Siberian (HM), Red Russian (HM), Lacinato (HM). 1 row each Siberian and Red Russian lasted all summer; season extension planting of Siberian, Red Russian and Lacinato.
– 2013: Siberian out-of-stock, replace with Beedy’s Camden Kale (F).
– 2012: King Sieg (F) for fall, King Richard (F) for early season; started from seed. Harvest before ground freezes, stores well in fridge.
– 2013: King Sieg and Siegfried (F-special for shareholders). Plant for late fall harvest.
– 2012: Andover (F); large roots, harvest by end of February.
– 2013: Andover; may need to let overwintered parsnips flower for seed.
– 2012: Red Cloud (WP), Yukon Gold (WP). Container grown in wood planters and trialed Smart Bag. Promising yields.
– 2013: Yukon Gold (HM); reduce to one variety and switched to seed from High Mowing. Continue with growing in containers.
– 2012: Valentine’s Day Mix (HM), French Breakfast (HM), Cherry Belle (HM), Cincinnati Market (SS) for spring/summer; Daikon (HM), Watermelon (HM) and Green Meat (F) in fall. Problems with germinating fall planting of watermelon and green meat.
– 2013: Add Rat-Tail (Fedco out of stock).
– 2012: Duborskian Rice (F), a dry-land variety. Problems with transplanting, failed to thrive.
– 2013: To quote the movie Apollo 13 — “Failure is not an option.” Maybe by the time we figure out how to grow it, someone will have figured out how to husk it.
– 2012: Spring – Gourmet Lettuce (HM), Gourmet Baby (BI), added Farmer’s Market Blend (BI); Red Planet (HM); Fall – Gourmet Baby, Farmer’s Market Blend, Red Planet, and Q’s Special Medley (BI). Late fall – Winter Lettuce Mix (F), HMS Gourmet.
– 2013: Add Misticanza di Lattughe and Misticanza di Lattughe Autunno-Inverno (SI).
– 2012: Costata Romanesco (F), Zephyr (J), Zeppelin Delicata (F), Sibley (F); Sibley failed to thrive. Reduced plantings to only two each of summer squash.
– 2013: Costata Romanesco Zucchini OG (F) and Zephyr for summer; Delicata and Spaghetti Squash (HM) for winter; Tromboncino Summer Squash (F) as dual purpose. Still working on SVB prevention.
– 2012: Peacevine, Chadwick and Sun Gold (seedlings, Stout Oak Farm); Aprile and Ponderosa sel. Oro (SI) for season extension.
– 2013: Peacevine, Sun Gold, Aprile, Ponderosa.
Note: 2012 Seed Notes