Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Veggie Quest Begins Anew

There might be snow on the ground now, but recent spells of spring-like weather have me in the mood to plant!  Even though I really do have plenty of time before spring truly arrives, I feel a little behind this year, as I am still deciding my seed orders for this year's upcoming vegetable garden.

last year's 'Mammoth Melting Sugar' Snow Peas
So how did last year's garden go?  It's evaluation time!

veggie garden 2017
The season began for me in early March with the starting of the onion seeds.  It was the first time I had started them from seed...

onion seedlings
...and it possibly might be the last.  It's just so much easier to order a bunch of seedlings, honestly.  I've heard that one can grow bigger onions by using seeds, and I'm sure that is true, but I started the seeds on the late side due to travels and ended up with the same size of onions as always.  I usually grow red storage-type onions, which lasts us through most of the winter.

'Red Hawk' onions
This year I was very excited to also grow Egyptian Walking Onions, aka Tree Onions.  They are a perennial onion, and one can eat the bulb, the stalk, or the bulblets that form on top.  They are called 'walking onions' because the bulblets weigh down the stalk, bending it down to the earth so that the bulblets can root.  Thus the plant slowly 'walks' to spread to other areas.  You can see a couple of the stalks in the picture below already bending down to start their stroll.

Egyptian Walking Onion
This year we ate mainly just some of the stalks as green onions, so that our patch of Walking Onions could increase.  They were strong with a bit of a spicy kick, which we enjoy!  The best part about them, though?  Nothing else eats them, so I could actually plant them outside of my fenced veggie garden.  I love trying new things in the garden every year and discovering new favorites to grow.

Clockwise from top left:  Purple Podded Pole Beans, potatoes, Half Long Guernsey Parsnips, Xtra-tender Sweet Corn,  Japanese Minowase Daikon Radish
Out of the new varieties we tried this year, my hands-down favorite was the Purple Podded Pole Beans.  They were prolific, indestructible, and delicious!  One of my daughters also discovered how much she liked parsnips (always a win!).  A carb-lover like most kids, she had so much fun digging and eating the potatoes out of my garden that she wants to grow them in her own garden this year.

potato plants
The kids also enjoyed the Sweet Corn, even though they ended up being more like corn 'nuggets', if you couldn't tell from the picture.  Our poor corn plants lived quite the hard life, having been completely knocked down by a strong storm and replanted/propped back up into place.  We also grew the usual suspects of garlic, peppers, and tomatoes, and I was able to can over a dozen jars of salsa in the attempt to keep us in salsa until the next harvest.

This year I tried growing Brandywine tomatoes again -  but in the greenhouse and away from the chipmunks this time.  They were as impressively delicious as everyone said, though I think I still prefer the Black Krims.  The Brandywines also didn't really produce quite as many tomatoes, either, though I did get one impressive 1.5 pounder!  Our tomato season is just so short up here, and by the time tomato plants really get going, it starts getting cold.

my 1.5 pound Brandywine tomato
My favorite tomato varieties this year?  Black Krim, Chocolate Cherry, Brandywine, and Magic Mountain.  I had one dud, the 'Green Vernissage' tomato, which I unfortunately grew from a complimentary free seed packet.  Maybe others like it, but I thought it tasted so awful that I cut the plants down.  My greenhouse space is at a premium, and that one was not worthy!

step inside to find my tomato and pepper plants
Of course, every year there is some sort of pest to deal with.  This past year I found myself with a deluge of slugs and grubs, which cut down pretty much all of my lettuce and spinach that were in those beds.  I consoled myself with how pretty my favorite turnips looked, grown under a row cover and away from the usual flea beetles.

'Hakurei' turnips
So what new ventures shall this year's garden bring?  Perpetual spinach? Wonderberries1500 Year Old Cave Beans?  There's always something new to grow and discover.

So let the season begin!

Anyone growing anything new and exciting this year?


  1. Lovely post!

    I'm growing mainly ornamentals, but I did plant a native sparkleberry (Vaccinium aboreum) and two bush cherries (Prunus tomentosa) last autumn. Not sure if I'll see any flowers or fruit this year...

    In terms of veggies, just got some spinach (Bloomsdale Long Standing) seeds from Sow True Seeds in the ground a few days ago.

    It might be a little early, but the soil thermometer showed ~ 64-65 degrees and spinach can supposedly germinate at 45-75 with an optimal germination of 70, so I thought I'd give it a try. I did save some of the seeds to plant in a week or two in case this first sowing doesn't germinate as hoped/expected...

    I've grown Bloomsdale Long Standing once before about 7 years ago (pre-blog!) when I knew even less than I do know and it was moderately successful then, so I'm hopeful / optimistic!!

    1. What fun fruit to try! Good luck with your spinach! I've gotten pretty good with germinating spinach seeds (between damp paper towels in a baggie in the dark after a short soak), but I always have trouble getting it to grow afterwards between pests and temperature issues sadly.

  2. Yum! That tomato looks delicious! Isn't it exciting to look forward to the growing season?! I usually buy onion sets (little onion bulbs), rather than seeds or plants. They seem to shoot up pretty fast, and they're inexpensive to buy by the bag. Love onions!

    1. I've grown onions from sets before, but I think seedlings worked a little better for me. Whatever results in onions for the year! I think we probably eat onions almost every day!

  3. Perennial onions! Excellent - I hope we can soon have perennial tomatoes. I also have a preference for those dark-skinned tomato varieties like 'Black Krim'. Have you tried 'Black Cherry' or 'Black Prince'? Congratulations that your kids are so interested in gardens and vegetables.

    1. I've grown 'Chocolate Cherry', which I think is very similar to 'Black Cherry', if not the same plant (something I've wondered). I haven't tried 'Black Prince' before, but there is definitely something about the flavor of black tomatoes!

  4. Hi Indie, your produce looks superb. Those walking onions are amazing. They would make a cute story in a children's cartoon book, or cartoon. Or song - like 'I'm a lonely little petunia in an onion patch?' You can find a good version on Youtube if you don't know it.

    1. Ha, it would! I heard about that song on someone's blog - very cute!

  5. Your vegetables all look very tasty Indie. I grow a few edibles on my balcony. Mostly herbs, because of the lack of space. And blueberries and edible flowers. And I like Rainbow Chard, it is tasty and easy to grow from seed.

    1. I haven't grown Chard before, as my family doesn't like it. This year I ordered seeds for a chard that is supposed to taste more like spinach, so I hope more people will eat that. I love Chard!

  6. Hello Indie!
    Beautiful yields.
    Vegetable garden is a fantastic thing.
    There is a lot of frost on my window sill and tomatoes and peppers grow on the window sill.
    I'm waiting for spring.
    Greetings from cold Poland.

  7. Just getting started here too....seeds ordered and some will be started indoors this week. Trying a few new varieties of tomatoes, peppers and the like with my usual veggies. I don't think I am trying any new veggies though. Lack of space. Putting my plans together and will unveil them soon.

  8. I grow mostly ornamental plants these days but usually throw a few tomatoes and some basil in. Your post makes me wish for more sunny space to grow vegetables. Maybe it's time for the bamboo grove to go.


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