Category: Garden

Garden Review – Best and Worst Plant Varieties of 2016

As the growing season draws to a close, I wanted to take a few minutes and reflect on the successes and failures of some of the plants we grew this year.

When you move away from the few (usually lackluster) options available at big box stores, there is a staggering amount of diversity in the plant world. I'm always looking for the ideal plant varieties for my growing conditions, intended usage, and taste buds, but it can be really hard to wade through the masses of available cultivars to find the right plants for me. Hopefully, this post will help some people in similar growing conditions to mine (Western NY, zone 5b) to put together a few pieces of the puzzle.

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Garden Failures, and a Winter Sowing Update

I've been thinking about failures a lot lately.

Two weeks ago, I noticed a strange and unpleasant odor coming from our enclosed porch. Since my brother had just come to stay with us and was sleeping in that room, I (unkindly) assumed the odor had something to do with him. I made him wash all his laundry again and check through all his stuff for that container of old, uneaten food I thought I smelled. And for the first two days that week, I scoured the house for the source of The Smell, puzzling as the sickly, rotten food odor grew stronger almost by the hour.

Suddenly, on the afternoon of day 2, I stopped. With nausea worse than that induced by The Smell washing over me, I walked slowly to the big upright freezer that lives in the enclosed porch, and opened the door.

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Garden Update – June 1st, 2016

It's been too long. I had a pretty good posting rhythm going there for a while - averaging about once a week - and then, I don't know. Life happened. I think the coming of warmer weather had a good bit to do with it. We're spending a lot more time outside now, and a lot more time working out at the property. Sitting in front of a computer sounds a lot less appealing when the weather is glorious.

But I'm going to try and get back on it. I've got quite a few posts in my head that I'd like to get out into the Internets. I'll start with a garden update, though, because we (and the plants) have been busy!

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Garden Update – April 11th, 2016

I've been thinking lately about the importance of keeping better track of my garden, week to week. In past years, I've recorded a lot of the bigger picture things - which vegetable varieties I bought and how many of them I planted; when I started, transplanted, and harvested crops; how big my harvests were (and how big I wished they were); what I spent in various garden-related categories... Stuff like that.

What I haven't done, and what I've been thinking about doing, is trying to get a better feel for what's going on in the life of the garden at any given time of the year. What was I thinking, feeling, seeing, planning, wondering, harvesting, preserving, dreaming? What was in my head, in my hands, and in front of my eyes? I want to be able to look back and see not just notes, but life - week by week, season by season, the dismal and the bountiful.

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Winter Sowing – Introduction

Before we jump into the meat of the Backyard Fruit Production series, I wanted to catch you up on something that's been happening a little closer to home. A few months back, I read about a seed-starting technique called winter sowing. Now I already have a whole indoor seed starting set-up (I'll post on that soon, it's pretty slick), but I was drawn to the idea of winter sowing because it's incredibly low-maintenance and basically free. Good things, right?

Winter-sowing involves starting seeds in recycled gallon jugs. They can be milk jugs, vinegar jugs, large water bottles... whatever you've got. They don't even have to be a full gallon, as long as they're reasonably large and either transparent or translucent (so that light can reach the seedlings). A hinge is cut in the jugs for easy access, drainage holes are poked in the bottom, their caps are removed, and seeds are planted inside. The jugs are placed in a clear plastic tote, taken outside in the dead of winter, and left there.

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