Sunday, March 20, 2011

Postage Stamp Potager- Phase 1

As promised, here is the picture of the pea supports. They are in a "T" configuration. Tall peas are planted in wide rows beneath the supports. As the peas grow string will be strung horizontally to keep the vines from sprawling. It looks a bit crude now, but as the vines grow it should look much better

Below, I had a few curious observers today when I went out to plant more seeds. A trio of purple finches.

.Below, a clump of 'Ice Follies' daffodils.

. Section 2 of the PSP was planted today, a checker board pattern of 'Tyee' spinach and 'Ice Bred' arrugula.

The weather was much cooler today, in the low 50's. Rain is forecast on and off for the rest of the week, with cool temps. Perfect weather for germinating the cool weather crops.

Note- Pay no attention to date on the pics, could not find the manual so I could reset the date and time after yesterday's battery drain.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Peas Planted!

The peas were planted today, only two days behind schedule.
This is the first year that I'm using my own saved seed, so I'm quite anxious to see how they germinate.
Five varieties were planted: 'Pretty', 'Freezonian', 'Blizzard', 'Blondie' and 'Paso', same varieties as last year.
I'll be trying out a new configuration of support for them, which I actually did put together :)
I'll be posting a picture tomorrow as the camera decided to have a drained battery when I went to use it today.
The daffodils are in bloom now as well as the hyacinths :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sand Hill Preservation Center

On Friday I received my first order from the Sand Hill Preservation Center. This is not a large company, but one run by a dedicated husband and wife team. If you are not familiar with them, then follow the above link to their website. The number of varieties they offer is truly impressive and many I have not seen to be available anywhere else.
I have been wanting to p;lace an order for several years, and made it one of my new years resolutions to place an order. Aside from the wealth of rare varieties, the prices are reasonable and they do not charge postage for orders over ten dollars. It took a little under three weeks to receive my seeds and this includes the time to get the order to them via snail mail. I was very surprised and delighted that they even sent two bonus packs of seed.

Click on the above picture to enlarge.

Without further ado, here is what I ordered, descriptions and prices are from their website:

Pole Bean-

Tennessee Greasy: 70 days. A true mix. I've tried for over 10 years to segregate this. I've concluded that it is a true mixture. Seeds are various colors as well as having pods of various shapes and textures. Beans can be used both in the green snap stage and dried for soup. Ornamental and colorful. 1 oz Pkt. - 1 Pkt./$3.00 OG

Insuk's Wang Kong: 80 days. Phaseolus coccineus A true red flowering runner bean. I used to raise runner beans with great success in Idaho, but have failed with all types here in Iowa except for this one. Vigorous, colorful and productive, but a mix of seed colors. 1 oz. Pkt. - 1 Pkt./$2.50


Black Seaman: mid, Ind, PL, bronze-green in color, semi-flattened globe. Pkt. $2.00 OG

Burpee's Table Talk: mid, SD, RL, 4 to 6 oz. globe fruit. Burpees prominently featured this variety on numerous catalog covers and it was their top variety in their 1943 catalog. Pkt. $1.25 OG

Pritchard's Scarlet Topper: mid, Ind, oblate, red globe. In the 1943 Burpee Seed Catalog it states, "The ideal, all-purpose tomato for growing in soil of high fertility. The self-topping habit prevents excessive vine growth under all conditions. Developed by Dr. Pritchard of the USDA." Pkt. $1.75 (Limit 1 Pkt.) OG 1933 AAS Gold Medal

Victor: early, Det, RL, small bush, heavy producer of 4 to 5 oz. red globe fruits. Introduced 1939 by Michigan State College. Bred by Dr.Yeager at ND State University. An All American Bronze Medal winner 1941. Pkt. $2.75 OG


Caserta: 48 days. Bush, super early and productive, grey-green striped summer squash. Pkt. $2.00 1949 AAS Gold Medal

Hercules Butternut: 100 days. (C. moschata) Not entirely uniform in shape, but produces some very large sized butternut squash. Pkt. $2.25 1963 AAS Silver Medal

Uconn: 86 days. (C. pepo) Bush, fist sized, productive acorn. Pkt. $1.50 OG 1950 AAS Gold Medal


Ruby: 60 days. Deep red leaf lettuce. A 1958 AAS Bronze Medal winner. Excellent deep red color. Pkt. $1.00


Nobel: 45 days. Large leafed spreading plant, slow to bolt. Pkt. $1.50 1933 AAS Silver Medal


New Hampshire Midget: 76 days. Small vines, very productive with pale green, slightly striped fruits about the size of your hand. Rind is very thin, quality is good when picked young. Overripe it is of low quality. This variety nearly became extinct as all commercial suppliers suddenly stopped carrying it in the early 1990's. Pkt. $2.50 OG (Limit 1 Pkt.) 1951 AAS Gold Medal

Gift for Trial-

Watermelon Blacktail Mountain: 76 days. My own development, created while I lived in northern Idaho, a location which has cool 35 to 45 degree nights and short seasons. The fruit is dark green with very faint stripes, flesh is an orange red similar to Sugar Baby. Continuously, it is my earliest type in over 100 varieties grown each season. Fruit averages 6 to 10 pounds. 1 Pkt $1.75; 2 Pkts./$3.00; 1 oz./$7.00; 1 lb./$60.00 OG

Pepper Tennessee Spice: 82 days. Very similar to a Tabasco in shape and size. About the length of a little finger. Very pointed and red in color. Very hot. Pkt. $3.00 (Limit 1 Pkt.) OG

I'm very excited as to finally being able to most of these varieties!

It was still to wet to do any digging today. So far the forecast for the coming weeks shows no rain, so I should be able to get my peas in the ground by next weekend.

I did get more lettuce sown today and cleaned off the shelves on the light stands for this seasons seed starting.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Signs of Spring

Hard to believe that less than a week ago there was three inches of snow on the ground.
A view of the kitchen garden today, hope fully it will be fry enough to do some digging tomorrow.

A clump of 'Ruby Giant' snow crocus.

A clump of 'Blue Pearl' snow crocus.

After what seems like a very long winter, spring may actually be here. Each year I eagerly anticipate the brief, but much appreciated appearance of the first snow crocus.
The first seeds have been sown under lights, gaillardia, hollyhocks and lettuce. Spring is here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Garden Planning

For the passed week or so I've been agonizing over my planting layout for the kitchen garden. After all, how do you squeeze in almost every vegetable variety into an area the size of a postage stamp? It ain't easy! Recently while going through a box of books that had been stashed in the attic, I came upon a book I bought several years ago, "In the French Kitchen Garden" by Georgeanne Brennan. Her potager plan for beginners just happens to be the size of the current kitchen garden- 9 ft x 12 ft, the exact size of the current plot. Of course I began to sketch plans for a basic potager. Next, I stumbled across a few pictures of Rosemary Verey's potager. It was love at first when I first glimpsed RV's potager about fifteen years ago, and vowed that someday I would plant a potager.
The main point I got out of Georgeanne's book was that I shouldn't be planning on massive harvests, but small harvests based on the season and succession planting. From RV's plans came an appreciation for an attractive layout and composition.
Now I'm frantically trying to shore up my plans. I need to have the layout finished by this weekend and begin my seed sowing. I do think that the Postage Stamp Potager is the way to go!
I'll see if I can upload the plan, if I ever finish it...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Is it Spring Yet?

We had torrential rains all day Sunday. I don't know how many times I went to the kitchen window to stare at the vegetable area trying to come with this year's layout.
When I got up this morning, this is the scene that was waiting for me looking out the same window. This coming weekend I was planning on turning ove the soil and planting peas. We'll see if that is going to happen...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Comstock, Ferre & Co.

While browsing online I came across their website. This is one of the oldest seed companies in America, recently purchased by the folks who own Baker Creek Seed. I wasn't really interested until I got to the Petunia section. If you don't know it yet I'm a sucker for vintage varieties from the 1930's- 1960's. They had 'Fire Chief' which I needed to replenish my supply and 'Rose of Heaven'. What got my pulse racing was 'Rose King'. Supposedly all of the pre-1950 All-America Selections of petunia's were lost and here was on from 1936. I decided on four of their five petunia selections and 'Allegheny Mixed' hollyhocks. the icing on the cake was that they offer free shipping on orders over $5.00. The order was placed on a Monday and the seeds arrived on Friday, how's that for service? They even included a gift pack of seeds, the one petunia variety I didn't buy! So far, I'm very impressed!

Above, 'Rose King' petunia.
Above, 'Rose of Heaven' petunia.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Playing Catch Up

Here are a few pictures of my poinsettia which I promised to post.
This year it colored up later than previous years. It looked best in mid January instead of December, as has has in previous years. I have no idea on what I will do with it this coming winter. Despite being hacked back each spring it is at least 4 ft by 4ft. But it does make a great spot of color.

Spring seems to be creeping along very slowly this year. I did find a few snow crocus that were braving the cold wind today. Warmer weather can't be that far off...