Archive for the 'Potatoes' Category

Cool Season Crops

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On March 1st of this year, I planted sugar snap pea seeds in one of our raised beds next to a wire trellis. All of the seeds sprouted within a week or two and grew rapidly after that. The pea vines are now over 6 feet tall (taller than the trellis) and are still growing. There are so many vines (I planted too many seeds) that wind blew them forward off the trellis a few weeks ago. I tied them back onto the trellis with string. I planted three rows of seeds at about a 3 inch spacing. Next time, I will plant only two rows of seeds spaced farther apart.

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I am growing peas on the same trellis as blue lake green beans, which I have been growing for years. When I have planted green beans along the entire 6 foot long trellis in the past, the plants produced way too many beans to eat. So this year I planted half as many beans and planted peas next to the beans. The peas are out growing the beans and starting to crowd them.

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Our peas are now full of pods. I just began picking them last week. This is the first time I have grown peas, and I am wondering why I didn’t before. They are easy to grow, produce lots of sweet edible pea pods early in the growing season, and are good sources of vitamins A and K and especially vitamin C.

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Our broccoli plants are large this year. I grew them by seed rather than buying nursery transplants, as I mentioned in a previous post. I have watered them regularly and applied water soluble fertilizer to them about once a week, which seems to have made a difference. Although right now, the plants are growing together and crowding each other out, which is probably limiting the size of the plants and the crowns. Next time, I may space them farther apart. 12 inches apart is not quite enough for maximum growth. Planting of broccoli seeds at just the right time is critical to getting large crowns. I think I got the timing right. Although, we’ve had two heat waves this month into the low 90s F, which is not ideal for broccoli growth. Our broccoli plants are forming crowns now. I just harvested the first crown today. These crowns in the lower photo look nearly ready to cut.

I also covered our broccoli plants with two layers of bird netting which helped to keep the snails away (they get stuck in it) and these white moths that want to lay larvae (worms) on the broccoli. The moths also can’t get through the netting.

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I have had mixed results with potatoes this year. I planted russet and yukon gold potatoes in Feb. and March. I have been planting potatoes in the same raised bed for years. Those potato plants (above photo) have not grown nearly as much as the potato plants that are growing in a different raised bed (below photo with corn in the back) where I had never planted potatoes until this year. It seems to be an example of the importance of rotating crops from year to year.

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I sowed the corn seeds in mid-March, which is the earliest I have ever planted it. I sowed Peaches and Cream corn seeds, which is my favorite variety for taste. The seeds sprouted and grew about as quickly as in past years when I had always sowed the seeds in April. I am expecting to harvest corn by July 1, and then rip out these plants for a second planting of corn seeds to be harvested in late October. Home grown corn is so good, one harvest a year just isn’t enough!

May 21 2014 | Broccoli and Corn and Peas and Potatoes | 1 Comment »

Vegetable Garden Successes and Misses

In March, we added two more raised beds in our backyard. We now have four raised beds that we are growing vegetables in. This year, we are growing tomatoes, potatoes, pole beans, peppers, eggplants, onions, basil, strawberries, cilantro, corn, zucchini, carrots, and cucumbers in our four raised beds. Although we haven’t harvested any vegetables yet, some of our vegetable plants are growing better than others.

Last October, I harvested seeds from dried up bean pods on our pole bean plants. I stored those seeds in a plastic bag over the winter and then planted the seeds in mid-March. Below is a picture of our pole beans today. In nearly 3 months, they have completely covered the fence I built for them last year.

In my experience, pole beans have been really easy to grow by seed and very prolific producers. Nearly all of the seeds sprout without any stratification. And once the beans sprout, they grow quickly with minimal care and little or no fertilizer (at least in our soil which is amended with compost). Although snails and slugs will eat them if they are not protected somehow. Every year that we have grown pole beans (for about the past 4 years), they have produced more beans than we could eat.

Another plant we have had a lot of luck growing is tomatoes. We planted three tomato transplants (early girl, big beef, and champion) in March that we bought from a local nursery. They were about 4 inches tall at the time. They have grown very quickly over the past 3 months, even though the weather here has been much wetter and cooler than average. As shown in the next picture, they have already grown to completely fill their cages.

We also planted San Marzano tomatoes by seed indoors a few months ago. Growing tomatoes by seed is a first for us. Nearly, all of the tomato seeds sprouted, but as soon as I transplanted the first batch of seedlings outside in early May, they died. The remaining batches of tomato seedlings I “hardened off” by gradually exposing them to direct sunlight and the outside temperature a few hours a day. After hardening off for about 2 weeks, I planted the remainder of the seedlings outside in our new raised beds. The tomato seedlings I hardened off survived and are looking better, although they are only about 6 inches high now.

Of course, one of the advantages of growing plants by seed is access to a larger number of varieties, many of which are not easy to find as transplants. San Marzano tomatoes are supposed to be great sauce tomatoes. The next pictures shows the two new raised beds we just added in our yard. The San Marzano tomatoes are growing on the left side of the bed in the foreground.

Some of the plants that we haven’t had much luck with this year are onions and leeks. I planted white onion sets, shallot sets, and leek transplants in one of our raised beds in March. The onions and leeks are growing on the right side of the bed in the foreground in the above picture. Although the onions and shallots sprouted, they haven’t grown much, and many of their leaves are turning yellow. The leeks haven’t grown at all since I planted them. I don’t have any idea why they haven’t grown well. But I tend to think that part of the fun of growing is taking a chance on growing new plants and that often means some of those plants don’t end up growing well.

Potatoes are another new plant we added to our garden this year. I planted yukon gold potatoes, which I ordered online as potato sets. I also planted white potato sets, which I purchased from a local nursery. The yukon gold potatoes look wonderful. They have already grown to about two feet tall and have really filled in the space around them (see picture below). The white potatoes sprouted, but they didn’t grow nearly as much as the yukon gold potatoes, so I ended up removing most of the white potatoes to make room for other plants.

June 13 2010 | Beans and Onions and Potatoes and Tomatoes | 3 Comments »