The SDMB 2018 Gardening Thread

So to take my mind off the crappy weather, I am fantasizing over packets of seeds online. Now that we have an actual house with an actual yard, I will be able to fulfill more of my gardening fantasies this year! So far we have 3 raised beds (3’ x 6’), plus a long, skinny one that we built along the garage wall with bricks from the chimney that we had taken down, where we will build trellises in the spring for cucumbers and melons and peas.

Then on Sunday, we hosted a small seed swap. So between the results of that, some leftover seeds from last year, and a few things I ordered, we have the following seeds to plant (I only took a few of each from the friends who came to the swap, but we still have a ton of spinach and arugula and peas from last year, and I ordered 5 different kinds of tomato seeds, but will share those when they arrive, too):

Sugar snap peas
Padron peppers
Acorn squash
Butternut squash
Golden beets
Bull’s Blood beets
Red cabbage
Mini Minnesota melons
Peppers (various sweet)
Ancho peppers
Tequila Sunrise peppers
Dwarf tomatoes - various

En route:
Charentais melon
Nero di Toscana kale
King of the North pepper
Tomatoes: Tigerella, San Marzano, Prudens Purple, Black Krim, Isis Candy
French Breakfast radish
Black Beauty eggplant
Armenian cucumbers
Beit Alpha cucumbers

Already in the raised beds from last year:

I realize this list is completely batshit insane. But at the new house, we were really starting from tabula rasa - it had been a rental for 15 years, and there was nothing planted but grass, and it’s an extra-wide lot. But I only plan to plant a few of each, and I am also thinking about planting some of the things (kale maybe? chard? lavender? sage? dwarf tomatoes?) as ornamental plants around the front yard. Oh, and there are also a couple of mint plants, a dozen or so raspberry bushes, a blackberry bush, and a couple of blueberry bushes from last year. And a bunch of various flower bulbs, mostly in front (tulips, crocuses, irises), a rosebush, some unidentified yellow lilies I got from a lady on Freecycle last year, a ton of wild geraniums, and a few other odds and ends. And there will probably be some attrition in the seed starting process, and some crop staggering of things like arugula and spinach and radishes before the tomatoes and cucumbers and such can go in, and before the garlic gets going in earnest.

Thoughts? What are you guys all planning for this year? And I’ve barely begun to think about flowers yet…

Seems like a reasonable list to me! If you’ve got the space, planting loads of variety is the best way to find out what does well, and some of those are ‘squeeze in the gaps’ plants

I’m also starting off from a near blank slate this year, in one of the mildest places in England. The plot is far smaller than my old one, but that’s OK as I have less free time, and the soil is light years better than my old one so I should be able to grow plenty anyway.

The only real disadvantage is that I don’t have, and am not able to get, a greenhouse, mini or otherwise. I’ll have to plant everything straight in the ground, so I’m having to give it all a re-think, because until now I’ve been giving most things a head start inside. I was so lucky to be able to get a plot just two months after moving in though, I’m not complaining!

Um - seems like quite a bit for 3+ 3x6 beds…

Glad you’re enjoying gardening (and the new house.)

One suggestion is to pay some attention to underlying garden design/structure, and focus on perennials. It is all to easy for new gardeners to end up with a row of plants - 1 of each of whatever struck their fancy when they went to the store/looked through the catalog - encircling their property. Annuals are fun, but perennials, trees and bushes, and hardscape are what create a garden.

One year my sister made a resolution to eat something every day that came from her garden. With herbs, it was relatively easy. Just suggest that as a possibly fun goal.

Are you starting seeds indoors, or sowing outside?

Plus the roughtly 20’ by 2’ bed along the garage, and another 3’ by 6’ one that we will add when the weather gets warmer. Plus tons of space to plant stuff other than in the beds (flowers and other ornamental plants, etc.) - the whole front yard, the rest of the backyard, the extra 10’ wide partial lot next to the house, etc.

We have already planted some perennial flowers, and I don’t want to dig too heavily into shrubs, etc. until after we build out the attic - I have nightmares of the construction guys dropping roofing materials, etc. onto all the freshly planted plants! But a few seeds aren’t that big an investment.

Oh, we have no problems eating the produce! We even did it the year we had a significant veggie garden at the condo, in the community garden next to our building.

Tomatoes, peppers, melons, cucumbers, etc. will get started inside, but anything that can be direct-sowed outdoors will be. We don’t have much space that can be reliably kept both warm and cat-free, plus see above re: construction. The logical spot to start seeds would be on the enclosed rear porch, but that’s also the logical spot for construction materials to be brought in. It’s going to be an interesting year.

I’ve got an artichoke that won’t seem to die. I’ll see if he comes up again his spring. Got some good stuff of him last year. He’s about 4 now.

Otherwise, Feh. Can’t get too excited. Weeds just wrecked my chi.

This is a huge year for me and my gardens. With my going into business for myself any food that don’t have to be store bought is money I don’t have to spend.

So far we haven’t got started. Matter of fact there is still 6°+ of snow on the ground. I’ve started to buy a few seeds and am thinking about sorting out my catalog of stored seeds this weekend.
A lot of time went into composting this past year. Soil building for the future.
I’m hopeful that pumpkins will be my major cash crop.
So much depends on the weather…

I still have to sort collected flower seeds from last fall in dozens of paper bags. And start some spring flowers in pots if we expect to get any flowers out of them! Yikes, much to do.

I put my patio potatoes into pots this week. I stuck one or two chits into 2" of compost at the bottom of my biggest pots, then as they grow, I’ll add more soil

Not sure if I’m going to re-up at the community garden. Squirrels ate every one of my winter Coles, and they don’t have much (any) pest control strategy to deal with them. There’s a new park being built, even closer to home, with 90 garden beds up for grabs. My name is on the list, but the city was considering giving first dibs to SNAP recipients. Hrm.

Almost time to refresh the herb pots in the patio too, although the sage, marjoram, parsley, rosemary and maybe tarragon seem to have overwintered just fine.

I haven’t made out the list of veggies, still composing it in my head, but I need to get on it. I will be growing my vegetables in straw bales, my soil is clay and boulders and I had very good results with the straw bales the year before last. As I am mostly confined to a wheelchair the bales are the perfect height for me. There will be tomatoes, potatoes, peas, carrots, cucumbers, radishes to begin with. Probably some cruciferous veg, I would really like to find some broccoli raab, and some asian greens like bok choy. I have a lot of fruit trees I planted, three I planted in 2012 and the sweet cherries have been producing for a couple of years now. The Japanese plum needed a pollinator so I planted two last year, along with two apples, two pears, one Italian prune/plum, one nectarine, one peach, and I put two figs into big pots on the deck. I also have several pots of raspberries and have plans to add some blueberries and strawberries to the deck this year as well. As for flowers and shubberies my highlight last year was when the kids brought me 10 delphiniums in blues and purples to add to the blue and white delphs I already had. This spring I plan to add a couple or three of dark raspberry pink and then I will be in delphinium heaven! I finally found a place for the clematis mom left me and I added another to the pot and before fall they had made a lot of new growth and had tons of flowers. I need to get my dahlias, cannas and oriental lily tubers/bulbs ordered and started, and I have a new/old nursery here in town which I had forgotten about from back when I lived here when I was in high school. It looks like just a little hole in the wall place when you might find some geraniums and pansies . . . holy cows! Last year my daughter and I went there and it’s a magical hidden garden! I have big plans on prowling around there this summer and picking up on any specials he might be having. I want to find a Japanese Kerria which will pretty much round out my quest to plant the bushes from my childhood neighborhood. Then there are the roses . . . I need to start working on my garden plan, I can see that very clearly now! Thanks for starting this thread and giving me a kick in the rear!

I bought my husband an indoor greenhouse and it’s almost time to bring it upstairs, get the lighting figured out and decide if we really need an extra layer of flooring for under it. He has a little 4’X2 1/2’X3’ greenhouse that we will start seeds in and then as the plants get bigger move into the bigger walk-in greenhouse.

Since I now have 2 dehydrators I plan this year to do a bit more green stuff. I skipped doing them last year and really missed munching fresh broccoli and spinach. I’ll be skipping cabbage this year because 2 years running I got more from the plant leaves than I did the heads.

Hopefully I will be able to find Sunset (or was it Sunrise?) cherry tomato plants again. They are orange and stay tasty longer than any red cherries we’ve ever grown. I’ll be freezing them whole and dehydrating them.

I’ll be going with dwarf/short fruit cucumbers again because 1) I don’t feel bad picking them pinky length and 2) if we don’t make pickles they dehydrate faster than normal cukes (smaller seed area). Dried cukes taste like squash and rehydrate nicely in a soup or stew.

The Sage seems to have overwintered nicely and I am hoping the Basil did too. he Garlic Chives have came back for 10 years so I don’t worry about them. I think I was sweet talk hubby into broadcasting Dill over at the big garden. Other than some fiddling with onions and garlic that are pretty much “grow, top, dig up, replant” he never brings but a handful home. I think he just likes the idea of them being there.

My mint box (6’ X 2’) is completely full and came back nicely last year. It has about 8 varieties of mint in it with Chocolate Mint being our favorite. The middle boy loves mowing by the box as the mint loves to escape and it smells good when shredded.

I’m looking forward to more than 6 plums from my 3 year old tree. The 3 year old apple trees will hopefully do as well as they did last year or, hopefully, even moreso. And maybe this year the Mister and his BFF will get all the trees sprayed and not just a select few. I think they noticed the difference when we were making jars upon jars of apple butter. Way less discarded fruit and better looking skin on the ones from sprayed trees.

Something I tried last year on a whim and I plan on doing on a much larger scale is to start dehydrating a bit of everything from the getgo and then powdering it all together as a soup base mix. Last year I only did one batch of everything near the end of the season and then my dehydrator got co-opted for drying hot peppers. (The guys have a salsa garden at the Shop.) But with 2 dehydrators now I can start when the greens do (by greens I mean both wild stuff and when anything in the cabbage family is getting bushy plus my herbs), keep going as the tomatoes and cukes start rolling in and end the season with dried fruit.

I don’t really do flowers but I would like to get some lavender going. Oh, and marigolds mainly for pest control and they do attract some bees but not nearly as much as the Sage did.

90% of our gardens are raised beds with in-ground trickle watering and garden cloth covered with mulch. My water was just put in last year and this year a timer will be installed. Little to no weeding and no more standing in the mosquitoes holding a hose!

I have all my seeds for the season, and a new cover for my greenhouse is on order (it’s one of the little plastic-covered ones). I have the weeks leading up to our usual last frost marked on my calendar and the seed packets sorted in order, so every time a new week comes up, I’ll sow all the seeds that fall into its window.

Not much has been sown yet. I have Barlow-mix columbines stratifying outdoors, and some of my wild rose seeds. Carnations and sea holly have sprouted in trays on the windowsill. I think next week or the week after will be the big one–that’s eight weeks out from average last frost. Tons and tons of annual and perennial seeds to start that week.

Last year I planted a 7’x40’ perennial border and this year I’m planting one to mirror it, which is mostly what the perennials are for, though I have a woodland garden I’m filling in too. I’m also growing lots of annual flowers in my raised beds for cutting, because nothing makes me happier than making bouquets.

The veg patch is a little more contentious. There is a mound of earth in one corner that I’ve tolerated in previous years, but this year I’m determined to dig it out so the patch is a proper flat rectangle. I’d thought the mound was piled up muck from previous owners’ animals, but it has turned out to be an outright junk pile. Yesterday I pulled up a kiddie pool, a five-gallon bucket, and a stack of styrofoam plates. People make me tired.

Do you mean Sun Gold? They’re our fave out here in CA.

Could be but my garden picture has it labelled as Sunburst cherry… and that can’t be its name because these only stay yellow for a bit before being ripe at orange. I went out to see if the plant stick/label was still in place but didn’t see any of them in any of the boxes. I think the Mister snagged them up and put them away so we could find the same kind again. These look a lot like what we grew last year. I’m not even sure where we bought the plants from (we tend to buy the tomatoes but grow the peppers from seed).

Oh, and hopefully we find celery again this year. It might be a bit tougher than store bought but it tastes so much better. Fresh or frozen and then cooked in a roast or dried and powdered (leaves as well) to make my own celery salt.

Do you blanch it? Is that necessary? If I could get away without that part of the process, I’d totally try growing celery…

Nope, no blanching, the BFF has one of those freezer baggers that sucks and seals. He wanted to be able to thaw some out and dip them even if they came out a bit limp (because he really loved the flavor). I should ask him this week-end if he has did so yet.

I tried a handful in a crockpot recipe (we just did sticks last year) and they were a bit too chewy. The handful I cooked low and slow in a roast in an oven, OTOH, did not turn to mush but had a much better mouthfeel and awesome flavor than either store bought or the crockpot.

I’ve put this on my wishlist (and told hubby that means no big toys for him until I get one… the man bought a backhoe and has used it 3X):

Not blanching in boiling water. I mean piling up dirt around them before you pick them, so the stalks turn pale. I’ve seen English gardeners do that with celery (and cardoons, too), and they act like it’s absolutely necessary. I always suspected they were full of it.

I just started some seeds under a fluorescent fixture. So far, I’ve got kale, dandelion, and broadleaf plantain (Plantago major). If my timing is right, I’ll be able to transplant these to a corner of our yard I’ve dedicated to tortoise feed.

Oh, no, no we don’t blanch them that way either. I wonder why they do that? Ahh, I see must be the veal of the veggie world.

I grew celery two years ago and found it unpleasantly strong. Maybe blanching would help. I saw a tip on YouTube using black paper rolled up inside a slit plastic bottle, instead of soil, to blanch leeks, would probably work for celery too.

They weren’t full of it; the old style varieties of English celery were absolutely supposed to be blanched, they were bred with the assumption that everyone would dig trenches and earth 'em up, and otherwise they’d be short, stubby and coarse. You don’t need to bother with most modern varieties (sold as ‘self blanching’ here) though.

The other reason people blanch celery that way in the UK is that it’s basically a layer of insulation; celery out in the open will be badly hit by the first real cold snap, whereas trenched celery should last through most of the winter in most of the UK.

There are still a fair few people who stick to the view that the old school 'uns are better, and maybe they do taste nicer, but in my view the benefit/effort ratio says no.