Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Picked out seeds for my new garden

I recently ordered supplies from www.bountifulgardens.org. I want to make sure my seeds and things are ready when I am ready! I ordered:

- a Sustainable Garden Starter Kit. This kit comes with the book The Sustainable Vegetable Garden and the seed packets which correspond to the garden in the book. I like this because they have already collection because they have put together plants that many people like and that are relatively easy to succeed with. Great for a beginner like me to get a taste of success! It has these seed packets:
  • Derby Snap Beans - I could not find information on the website about this seed packet. I did get an inoculate to help the plants fix nitrogen and grow better.
  • Golden Bantam Corn- the website says that this is a good producer of sweet corn with good flavor. That sounds good to me! The height is described as "short 5-6' ". I can't imagine what a "tall" variety might look like! 150 seeds / packer to cover an area of 180 sq ft.
  • Bronze Arrow Lettuce- I look forward to trying this loose-leaf lettuce. It may be possible to get multiple cuttings from each plant, which I appreciate because I do not always want a whole head of lettuce at one time. There are 300/ packet to cover 100 sq ft.
  • Rutgers Tomato - One packet has enough seeds for a beginner to harvest 100 lbs of large tomatoes from 100 sq ft. The website claims that with more experience and better soil the yield could be over 400 lbs. 400 lbs of tomatoes sold at 25 cents each would be $100 - enough to pay for a bunch of tools for the garden. There are 45 seeds / packet to cover an area of 125 sq ft.

  • Sugar Baby Watermelon - I probably wouldn't have chosen a pack of watermelon seeds if I was only going to try a few plants. I like watermelon, but the fruits are too big (8-12 lbs) that I would be unable to eat one myse6+lf. I would rather smaller fruits to begin with. This packet contains enough seeds for a beginner to harvest 50 lbs in 100 sq ft. I suppose this would be a great crop to share with the food bank, since they accept home-grown produce. I also do not plan to plant very many seeds, so I shouldn't get too overwhelmed with watermelons. There are 70 seeds / packet to plant an area of 140 sq ft.
  • Nantes (Tip Top) Carrot - I am not much of a carrot eater. Maybe that will change when I have a bunch of fresh carrots to practice cooking with. I would like to try juicing carrots and dehydrating them. I also heard that carrots can be good for dogs to chew on. I might try that. I have also heard that vegetables can give dogs gas and dogs can concentrate too much vitamin A in their bodies. I will have to research that some more. There are 800 seeds / packet, which only requires an area of 30 sq ft.
  • Straight Eight Cucumber -This is an organic seed packet. I am not a big cucumber eater, so I will need to find some recipes. I do look forward to eating the skin of the cucumber without wondering whether or not it was coated with wax or how far it traveled. Last time I purchased a cucumber, the cost was 50 cents each. This was in California. There are 40 seeds / packet to cover 24 sq ft.
  • Haogen Melon - I have never heard of this type of melon, so I look forward to growing it. The description says it has a yellow rind with green sutures. I guess I will know for sure how it looks when it starts growing. There are 30 seeds / packet to cover an area of 35 sq ft.
  • Southport White Globe Onion - Onions will be good for grilling and pizzas. I might also try making onion rings or a blooming onion recipe. I can also make onion dip and put chopped onions on my nachos. If these store well then I can have lots of onions whenever I care to add one. I think I read somewhere that onions have strong antioxidants. There are 150 seeds/ packet to cover an area of 11 sq ft.
  • White Lisbon Green Onion - This is labeled "Scallions" in parentheses. Because I have come across a number of recipes that have called for scallions, these plants could prove very useful. I think I like the green tops cut off on a piece of bread and butter, though I might be getting this plant mixed up with another. There are 150 seeds / packet to plant an area of 6 sq ft.
  • Hard Red Spring Wheat- There are a couple of different types of this wheat available. I assume they are referring to item number GWH-7570, the modern organic type. I do not know if this is a crop that I can realistically harvest and make bread out of. I intend to find out! A challenge for bread-making using my own ingredients will be getting the amounts and time right. Different varieties of grains have different properties, so what works with one grain might not work with another. There are 1250 seeds / packet to plant an area of 150 sq ft.
  • Taylor’s Dwarf Bean - I have no idea what to expect with this bean. The description on the website is: "Cranberry. Improved Pinto Snap beans, green shell bean, & dry bean in one." I will have to find out if I can eat this raw. I certainly hope it does not taste like cranberries, those are a bit too tart for me. I will research this bean further. There are 85 seeds / packet to cover an area of 13 sq ft.
  • Hulless Oats - I might use the oats in my bread machine. They could also be used for oatmeal baths or maybe as birdseed. I might even have to try making cookies with these. There are 750 seeds / packet, for a planting area of 90 sq ft.
  • Compost Crop Mix - this is a mix of wheat, vetch, and rye, which are grown as bulk materials for compost. If planted in the fall the grain can also be eaten. I hope to be able to harvest some grain as well as keep some seeds for later. There are 1500 seeds / packet to cover 100 sq ft.
  • Fava beans - this is included in the collection as a crop to grow for compost and to condition the soil. The store states that this plant fixes nitrogen if the seeds are inoculated first. I purchased the product to do so. There are 300 seeds / packet to cover 78 sq ft.

All together (excluding the Derby Snap Beans, which I could not find information for), this collection provides over 5,000 seeds to cover an area of 956 sq ft when grown intensively. The website states that you would need 4 times the area to plant in conventional rows. This seems like a good deal to me, as it also comes with the book that provides instructions. There are more seeds than I will plant my first year or two, and seeds can be harvested from my garden as well. Not bad for an endless supply of seeds that I can keep and/or share.

- a pack of Alpine Strawberry Seeds because strawberries are so good. This variety supposedly tastes like wild strawberries and takes 2 years to mature. I certainly want to get it started as soon as the soil is ready! The plants then produce every year. There are 150 seeds / packet to cover an area of 100 sq ft. The listing says that a beginning gardener can expect to harvest 40 lbs of produce from 100 sq ft. Too bad it will take two years, but 40+ lbs of strawberries every year after might just be worth it. The website states this plant is often used for edging and edible landscapes.

- the Perennial Vegetables Collection, which consists of 6 packets of seeds from "permanent" plants. That means they stay where they are year after year instead of being grown from seed each year. The collection includes these seed packets:
  • Asparagus - I think having lots of asparagus to grill might be very tasty. I need to get this planted as soon as conditions are right because it takes 4 yrs to mature! It then last for several more years. I might plant this in a border area since it will stay there for a long time. The description recommends cold weather. I wonder if shade in a hotter area would work well enough? There are 35 seeds / packet to cover an area of 22 sq ft.
  • Perpetual Spinach - I do not know if this is a spinach or a Swiss Chard. I cannot find an exact matching seed packet. I would like spinach, I am not sure about Swiss chard.
  • Rhubarb - I am excited about growing rhubarb. I would like to try it in a homemade pie. The biggest problem is that the leaves are poisonous. I will need to find a place where my dog cannot get to it. I also plan to grow grapes at some point, which are toxic to dogs. I might create a little garden for these plants. I will have to plan now as this plant takes three years to mature. If I plan correctly, the presence of beautiful rhubarb and asparagus beds might be a big selling point if I sell my house someday since they take so long to establish. This plant also desires cold weather. Unfortunately, beginning gardeners can only expect to harvest 4 lbs, while experienced gardeners with good soil can only expect 8 lbs. I will have to research how much this crop goes for at the grocery stores and farmers markets. 35 seeds / packet to plant an area of 100 sq ft.
  • Artichoke - this plant at least appreciates warm weather. I hope it doesn't get too hot. It takes 4-11 months to mature. The spacing recommended for this plant is 72 inches! I will need to look at pictures and do more research to see if anything can be planted closer to it. I hope to get enough artichokes to learn how to cook them. Since they take so much room, I may not even plant this crop so that I can have room for others. I will also investigate if they can be grown in pots. There are 50 seeds / packet to cover an area of 1000+ sq ft.
  • Welsh Onion - This onion is also labeled "scallions". This is described by the website as being grown like chives as well as tasting a little stronger than chives. I think I will enjoy this plant. The website also states that this plant "likes deeply- dug rich loam". I might grow a few things in their future spot first to condition the soil. I might have to find a safe place for this plant if it is true that onions can be poisonous to dogs. There are 150 seeds / packet to cover an area of 6 sq ft.
  • Sorrel - This leafy plant likes shade! That means I have a plant that will appreciate the little bit of shade I have available, and future shade from fruit trees. I have never tried sorrel. The website recommends its use in salads and herb butters. There are 200 seeds / packet to plant an area of 50 sq ft.
- one packet of Water Saving Mix, West. This is a mix of flower seeds that require very little water. That sounds good, as my area is in a drought and not having to water flowers very often saves times and money. This will be good to look pretty and attract helpful insects. My guess is that pollinating insects can find crops better if they are drawn in first by a crowd of pretty flowers. Also, a mix of flowers allows diverse insects to live together. This way helpful insects are nearby in case the bugs they like to eat infest my crops.

- American Wild Plum seeds for my first time growing a fruit tree from seed. I already have some sort of tree, possibly plum, in my yard. However, it is too close to the house and needs to be removed to prevent foundation damage. I like this tree because it is self-fertile, likes full sun, and matures in only 2-3 years. It also only grows to 10 ft, making it good for harvesting and planting in a suburban area that has power lines. There are 7 seeds/ packet, the planting area is not listed.

- a pack of Fodder Radish seeds. These seeds have more potential than just providing radishes - the website describes this plant as able to break up clay soil. It is also listed as having a "very deep tap root that brings up nutrients from the subsoil". I am excited about this. Even if I don't eat the radishes, they will help aerate and fertilize my soil. They can also be composted, allowing the found nutrients to be used for other crops. I plan to plant these where I want to grow trees and crops later. This will help other plants get off to a good start. I am considering purchasing additional packets and planting lots of radishes to get soil ready that won't be planted this year. I think I could just give them a little water and let them grow. I wouldn't even have to tend them until I pull them out to put in the compost pile. They also might be able to be left in the ground to decompose where they are. According to the store website, a beginner can expect to harvest 100 lbs of radishes per packet. There are 2500 seeds to cover an area of 100 sq ft.

- 3 packs of Seeds for Kids (of all ages). These are packs of random seeds left over from last year. Not all of them are as productive as the marketed packages, but many will still grow. I plan to plant these in a small area just to see what comes up, and to create compost. I hope to get a couple of interesting melons. Another advantage of this is that plants that I like could grow and I could save seeds from the crop, allowing myself to have seeds for next year at a much lower cost. The number of seeds and planting area is unknown.

- a Pot Maker for creating temporary pots out of newspaper. These will be good for starting seedlings. The entire pot can go into the ground when ready to plant. The website advises tearing off the bottom before placing in the ground. I would also like to plant extras to give away or sell. This would minimize costs while making it easier for the recipient to plant.

- an Eco Spout, which is an attachment for regular water bottles and jugs. This Eco Spout comes with a head for pouring, and a head for sprinkling. This way I can mix up worm tea and other things in a water bottle and pour or sprinkle it onto the plants or soil. I can then rinse the bottle and recycle it as normal. For less than $3.00 (as of today) I thought this would be useful.
- a can of Tangle Trap to protect some of my future plants and trees from climbing insects. I think I just have to brush it in a ring around a plant, but I will find out.

- Garden Combo Inoculant to help my beans and peas to get off to a good start. This gives them the bacteria they need to grow best. After a few years I probably won't need it, but for now I doubt my lawn has the bacteria that beans and peas need.

- a jar of Root Zone Beneficial Microbes, which has many things the soil needs to grow. I feel the expense is worthwhile since a good variety of microbes may not have been established since there is only one plant (grass) in the area, and I do not know if the area has been depleted of microbes from chemical fertilizers. I also plan to add a little bit to my new compost bin to get it started. If I keep up with composting and gardening then I may never need another jar of this product. The microbes will have established themselves and will reproduce prolifically on their own.

- A bag of silica gel for drying seeds for preservation. I do not know how to do this yet, but I figure I can find out later. I can read a book and/or look it up online. They sell a package that has the gel and a book, but I decided I had already spent enough money for one shopping trip.

After writing all this out I feel like I may have purchased more than I can handle. At least seeds can be saved for next year! I want to at least get the radishes in to loosen the soil and get a good compost bin going. We'll see what I can handle, and what I have room for.

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