Friday, January 23, 2015

Basement Beginnings and Seed Choices - what worked?

So, I thought my seed choices last year were a match for the plot size I had, as well as my desires for consuming and freezing the produce, herbs, and pesto. They included: cherry tomatoes, early tomatoes, bush beans, peas, eggplant, basil, parsley, dill, oregano, thyme, sage.

*Lessons Learned*

                                                  We did learn a few things:

- Peas and beans are best planted directly in the soil. Peas must be planted late in the spring to get any type of harvest. I waited until cool temps were gone altogether, which is not correct. The peas were tender and delicious fresh or cooked, but timing does matter.

- Cherry tomatoes were tasty, great for cooking, but one plant is enough. We had cherry tomatoes every day, and they lost their appeal after 3 months. 

- Early girl tomatoes were a great palm-sized fruit, very sweet and great for sandwiches and salad, but were too sweet for a nice sauce. We had to add tomato paste to get a hearty sauce. And, we planted too many plants - they took over most of the garden, and shaded other plants from the sun which did not allow them to grow to their fullest state. This year we'll plant a few plum and (hopefully) heirloom tomatoes for variety and flavor. It really is nice to have the garden tastes of summer in these sauces as we hunker down in a winter storm.

- The bush beans, eggplant, parsley, dill, oregano, thyme and sage were great! We also planted cilantro which did not survive (my bad). This year we'll reduce the amount of parsley (we had 4 big plants), and add additional bush bean plants - they were delicious! However, we did make and freeze some outstanding pesto with the parsley that we use to season our sauce - even now!

- We planted no lettuce last year which was a mistake. Lettuce is very easy to grow, and does last for some time in a garden. We had grown some in 2013 and it was a delicious treat! 

All in all, we had a fun and productive garden in 2014. It offered enough produce to stay interested, and didn't require a lot of TLC and maintenance. We'll be back getting our 'hands dirty' in a few months! 

Next time, I'll look back and talk about lessons we learned about maintaining the garden.

Happy Growing!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Basement Beginnings - What worked and didn't?

I began my last year of growing vegetables (1994) in the middle of a snowstorm. I was mentally finished with Winter, and wanted to get on with growing. So, I headed over to Home Depot and Lowes in search of vegetable and herb seeds, growing trays, soil and grow lights. I knew I wanted 'uncomplicated' plants - no vine plants, wide or tall plants, or plants that required an early or extended growing season. So my quick list was to purchase seeds for cherry tomatoes, early tomatoes, bush beans, peas, basil, parsley, dill, oregano, thyme, sage. Then, it was back to the house to clear out a space in our basement, and setup the tables and grow lights.

*Lesson learned* 
Looking back on this one year later, I should have carved out my basement space first. It would have created my initial 'growing environment' which I needed as a foundation. This would have eliminated all of the other gyrations I needed to go through after the seed and soil purchase that were essential to my growing plan: setup tables, hang grow lights, organize a watering strategy for seedlings, and fill trays with soil.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015 - Growing Season Dreams...

As the winter begins its cold march through New England, I find myself dreaming of dirty fingers, muddy sneakers and the scent of newly mowed grass, the musky smell of soil and manure, the delicate tendrils of newly 'hatched' seeds, the immense pleasure and pride of new veggie plants in the garden, and the joy of tasting new herbs and produce - my garden of earthly delights...

But, reality places me here in Winter's season, so I'll limit my dreams to looking back on the last growing season, sizing up what worked, what didn't work, and adjustments needed for the next season.  Each week, I'll take a look back and comment on the positives and negatives of my choices last year, and a plan to maximize the pluses, and reduce the minuses as we move into the 2015 garden season. I'll also add a few thoughts on herbs and veggies we'll be adding or removing this year.

Of course, it all starts in the basement, so we'll start with that next week!

Happy planning!