Here’s the final plan for the edible garden this year. Tomatoes, melons, & cucumbers will be string trellised. Most of the warm-season crops will mulched with black plastic, and grown under clear plastic hoop houses until mid-July.
What We’re Growing This Year
Last year was our second full year at Half Full Farm with a dedicated edible garden space. We have a total of twelve 4’ x 8’ rasied beds behind high fencing, along with our beehives – which, so far, has managed to keep the bears out of them. If you saw last year’s post, you’ll see we had a fairly aggressive list of edibles, inlcuding multiple varieties of our favorites like melons, tomatoes and peppers.
In considering what went well:
- We had successful harvest of melons, which was a real surprise, given how dfficult they are to grow in our area
- We had a good tomato and eggplant harvest – but a lousy pepper harvest
- We harvested potatoes a plenty
- Beans and peas did well
- We are still eating down our carrots, here in January
- We still have stockpiles of garlic
- We had a good supply of herbs in the last half of the season and into the fall
- Our new drip irrigation system was a vast improvement compared to the overhead waterer we used in the prior year
On the other hand, we had some problems:
- I couldn’t grow a decent brassica to save my life. I harvested a few pounds of Brussels Sprouts, but had no success with cabbage or broccoli, spring or fall
- We had a decent supply of lettuce, but didn’t do a great job of succession planning so had lots of gaps through the year
- I had some late season beets, but struggled with them
- I had an unreasonably hard time growing radish. If you even accidentally say the word “radish” near dirt, they grow, so I clearly am an idiot
- I don’t think I dialed in the organic fertilizer until late in the season
This Year’s Garden
This year, we have 2 major changes to the garden:
- We have six new 4’ x ‘8 raised beds in another part of our property, thanks to our exceedingly sweet neighbors. These beds will not be behind fencing, so we have decided to try a flower cutting garden.
- We plan to utilize the same twelve edible beds – in line with our rotation strategy – but this time simplify the number and variety of crops we plan to grow. Our guiding principle is to grow things that we really love, and know will be more delicious than what we can get at the local supermarket.
With that, here are our lists for the coming season, ordered as always from Territorial Seed Company.
- Arugula ‘Speedy’
- Beans, Bush ‘Hickock’
- Beets ‘Touchstone Gold’
- Carrots ‘Sugarsnax’
- Cucumbers ‘Marketmore 97’
- Eggplant ‘Prosperosa’
- Leeks ‘Megaton’
- Lettuce ‘Rex’
- Lettuce ‘Oaky Red’
- Melons ‘Alvaro’
- Onions ‘Walla Walla’
- Peas, Snap ‘Super Sugar Snap’
- Peppers, Hot ‘Ancho Magnifico’
- Peppers, Sweet ‘Purple Beauty’
- Potatoes ‘White Elba’
- Pumpkins ‘Naked Bear’
- Pumpkins ‘Bellatrix’
- Radishes ‘Cherry Belle’
- Shallot ‘Conservor’
- Spinach ‘Palco’
- Squash ‘Hunter’
- Tomatoes ‘Genuwine’
- Tomatoes ‘Marzinara’
- Watermelon ’Sweet Beauty’
- Basil ‘Emerald Towers’
- Basil ‘Finissimo Verde A Palla’
- Chives ‘Organic’
- Cilantro ‘Cruiser’
- Dill ‘Long Island Mammoth’
- Mint ‘Mojito’
- Oregano ‘Zataar’
- Parsley ‘Dark Green Italian’
- Benarys Giant Series Mix Zinnia
- Bonanza Mix Marigold
- Infrared Mix Sunflower
- Persian Jewels Nigella
- Potomac Early Orange Snapdragon
- Sensation Mix Cosmos
- Tall Trailing Mix Nasturtium
- The Joker Sunflower
Growing Hardneck Garlic
We harvested our hardneck garlic over the weekend. This was my first time growing garlic and I found it easy and rewarding.
I ordered our bulbs from Territorial Seed Company and put them in the ground soon after they arrived in early October, after adding several loads of compost. We used our “backup” garden beds, as the main garden area was already planted in cover crop, due to lack of sufficient planning.
Planting is straightforward: simply break individual cloves from the full bulb head. Discard the teeny tiny ones since they won’t grow as robust plants as the larger ones will. Make sure to leave the papery husk on the cloves. Plant each clove about two to three inches deep with pointy tip up, about six inches apart from each other. I usually incorporate a complete organic fertilizer into the soil just before planting.
Once established, you should see stalks emerge and growth through the mild winters here in the Greater Seattle area. Things really take off in the spring, and you will see your hardneck garlic put up a seed stalk at the same time bulb formation begins. You should pinch off the emerging seed head as soon as you see this form; this will ultimately yield bigger bulbs.
Keep an eye on the garlic starting in early June. The leaves should start turning brown, a sign that the heads have segmented and formed bulbs with an exterior skin. If you can, stop irrigating and allow the soil to dry out and check the bulbs every few days to ensure they are ready. Do not try and yank the pants from the ground as that can damage your bulbs, instead use a spade or pitchfork to loosen the soil around and underneath and gently loosen the roots.
The next step is to dry the bulbs: I lay mine out for a few hours in the sun, gently shake of a bit more of the soil off, then move them to a a covered area that is protected from the rain (we use our barn) for another 3-4 days. After drying a bit, strip away some of the exterior leaves and the outer layer of paper skin to make clean-looking bulbs. Allow the bulbs to cure for another 2 weeks or until the tops have withered enough to braid or cut off. Store in a cool dry place and enjoy your harvest.