A list of what will be growing in my garden this year.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Welcome to the Garden List of Crops for 2004. I will include a short description of what it is I am growing, plus some cultivation records for my own use of past crop problems, or shortcomings, or things I just need to remember. I hope that you will enjoy reading about these crops as much as I enjoy growing them. If you are one of my private clients, welcome to this page, and this is basically a preview of what you will be getting this year. There are always crop failures, of course, that are out of my control. So this is the ideal list, not necessarily what you will be getting in total. Last year, I had few melons, due to a very rainy June, and so the season was too short for them to mature. Also, squash bugs decimated my pumpkins, though I did manage a few Buttercup squash, some cucumbers, and some zucchini. Since I have not yet placed my orders, and plan to do so this week, there will still be some other things coming. But this is the major list for this year.

Bush Haricot Verts--haricot vert is French for green bean. This type has fancier quality than American beans. I try to pick them while they are still thin. I have ordered

Maxibel (61 days). Heavy producer of uniform dark green fancy stringless 6-8" pods. I will be planting them all through the hot weather, until the fall. Projected first harvesting around the beginning of July.

Bush Wax Beans--

Indy Gold (54 days). The tender white-seeded, yellow pods with attractive green tips average 5". These will come in around the beginning of July (mind you--all of the projected dates depend on mild, sunny weather, with average rainfall.

Windsor Fava (75 days). Although not well-known in America, they've been mainstays in many other cultures from ancient Rome to mexico, Brazil, and India in modern times. These are going to be used for a cover crop in the early spring, although I will still be able to harvest them for clients. Because they need to be picked, taken from the pod, parboiled and pulled from the inner seed covering, they are very labor intensive, and will be expensive. But they are worth it, for at least one delivery to each client. And we will enjoy them at home.


Shirofumi ECO--A succulent nutty treat. From late August through early September. The Japanese call them Edamame, and boil them and salt them like beer nuts. Boil the pods for 5 minutes, chill quickly for easy shelling. Refrigerate beans that are not consumed right away. If you'd like to know more about edamame, there is an excellent article in the June/July 2002 issue of Mother Earth news, that I will try to link here. Now, this will be the first time I have grown these, so I do not quite know what I am doing, as everything is a learning experience. But I am excited about growing these, as I have been buying frozen edamame beans at the health food store, and keeping them in the freezer at work, where I parcel them out each day and microwave them in some water. And they are delicious, and full of protein.

Bush Lima Beans--In his 100 Hundred Vegetables and Where They Came From, William Woys Weaver highly praises Jackson Wonder (103 days) for delivering unexpected benefits. Its baby pods are so tender they can be cooked like snow peas, while the mature beans are so handsome they'd make a stunning bead necklace (not that I've done that). Since these take so long to grow, they won't be delivered until the late summer, early fall.

Shell peas

Coral (53 days). Should be ready before the 4th of July. If they don't send me this variety, I will let you know, as the seed source said that they were in short supply. I truly never know until I get my order. But this year I will try to trellis them on fencing. Last year I seeded them where there were basil and pepper plants from the year before, and had the peas grow up on the old plants, but the supporting plants were too short. So this year, trellising will be done, hopefully.

Open-pollinated Melons

Golden Gopher--a truly delicious melon (85 days). However, last year's rainy June made it difficult for the melons to mature fully, in time, and short-circuited most of them.

Moon and Stars Watermelon. (100 days) Once feared extinct, this now-famous unique watermelon became a cause celebre for the Seed Savers Exchange. It needs a lot of heat to set fruit, so let's hope this summer heats up better than last summer. It is very sweet, and my favorite watermelon. Also, small enough to not take up too much space in the refrigerator.

Hybrid melons
Sweetie--(75 days) Supposedly the "easiest melon in the world to grow." And very small--1 to 2 lbs each. Also called the Butterscotch Melon. This one is new for me.


Cool Breeze Cornichons (49 days) This is a hybrid, parthenocarpic, which means it needs no bees for pollination. So I plan to keep it under row covers in order to keep out beetles. A new variety for me to grow this year.

Summer Squash

Spineless Beauty Zucchini (46 days). Supposedly easy to harvest, as they don't hurt your hands. This year, I will plant them far away from other curcubits (cucumbers, squashes and melons), start them earlier, so they are really big and strong when I put them in the garden (though have to take care they don't get root-bound), and do succession planting, in case I lose them to the squash beetles.

Open-pollinated Pumpkins

Rouge Vif d'Etampes (105 days). I lost all of these to squash beetles last summer. So, need to try some other patch of ground, make sure they get plenty of manure or compost, start them early, perhaps keep them covered with row covers until they set flowers, but need to check for beetles frequently, and get the eggs off the leaves early if I find any. This might be too labor-intensive in the hot months, so if I can't grow these successfully this year, I will stop with the pumpkins.

Chioggia (55 days) My favorite beet, so I was disheartened to read that there was a world-wide crop shortage and can only get a limited amount from my favorite seed source. I did see them listed in other catalogs, without any mention of crop shortage, but I trust Fedco to be telling the truth. I get really scared when I read about seeds disappearing. This is a wonderful beet. Bright, candy red on the outside, striped pink and white on the inside. An easy beet to grow, and good from early spring through fall.

Burpee's Golden (55 days) Next to Chioggia, my favorite beet. Actually runs right up there with it. Another sweet, beautiful baby beet. I love to pull a bunch of beets for my clients that are in all different colors. Pink, yellow, purple, and white. Some of them have absolutely delicious greens, ready to eat in the early spring, too.

Bull's Blood (60 days). Open-pollinated. Prized for its spectacular leaves (reddish-purple) not its rough flattened globe-shaped roots. The sweetest beet greens (can you call purple leaves beet greens?

Hailstone (25 days). A crisp round juicy white radish, not very hot.
French Breakfast (26 days). Called French Breakfast because it was the favorite in Paris markets. A medium sized radish, olive-shaped, small top, of a beautiful scarlet color, except near the tip, which is pure white.
Plum Purple (26 days). A popular plum-colored round root.

Rutabagas and Turnips
Laurentian Rutabaga (95 days). This will be the first time I have ever grown rutabagas. I am so excited, as it has become one of my favorite winter vegetables. I like to roast home-fried potato-sized pieces of rutabagas in olive oil in an oven for an hour, sometimes with other root vegetables. This variety is supposed to be suitable for winter storage.

Gold Ball Turnip (45 days)
Also known as Orange Jelly. Listed in the Album Vilmorin (1854-55) as Robertson's Golden Ball, and one of 26 turnips in the London seed firm Charlwood & Cummins presented to the United States patent office in 1855. It is the only one of the 26 still in commerce. Not truly orange, the skin is very smooth and yellow and the soft flesh is golden yellow. William Woys Weaver calls the flavor unique and describes "an unexpected and pleasant aftertaste of bitter almond." The Seed Savers Exchange catalog considers it "probably the finest culinary turnip" with a flavor more like a rutabaga than an early summer turnip and recommends mashing it with carrots.

Purple Top White Globe Turnip (50 days). Popular variety with purple tops, white bottoms and white flesh. Easy to find in markets. I still have seed left over from last year, so I will also grow some of these.

Imperial (85 days). I will certainly grow some of these for my clients. I also enjoy having leeks around to harvest, and they can just sit anywhere in the garden forever, even through the snow. I like to use them in place of regular yellow onions when I am cooking.

Evergreen Hardy White (65 days). Open-pollinated. Also known as Nebuka, a perennial bunching onion. If overwintered in the ground, develops clumps of scallions in the spring which can be harvested or divided and replanted. Heirloom from Japan originated in the 1880s.

Tyee (44 days). I had a lot of good luck with this variety last year, and I will keep on growing it.

I generally just order a mix, one for the spring, and one for the summer. And this year, while I will still use those mixes, I am going to grow some other varieties that I saw in the catalog, to use as a filler in my salad mixes, to give them some "lift" with different colors, and textures. Also, for the first time, will offer whole heads of lettuce, along with the mixes. The mixes are good for the clients, in that they are pre-washed, spun, and bagged, ready to eat. This makes them more expensive, but worth it, as convenience is key with my vegetables. But I am still going to offer beautiful heads of unusual lettuce, as an aside. They will only be surface-rinsed, so the client will have to do the washing themselves. If I get my farmstand going this spring, heads of lettuce will be a staple, also.

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