Thursday, March 5, 2009

Haha, not dead

So, not dead. I suck at regular posting, apparently. I've completed my seed orders, and as usual, my promises to focus on one thing have gradually fallen away. I was going to make this a soil building year, but then there's awesome new varieties to try, and herbs to grow, and co-planting to experiment with.
Here's my seed purchase list for this year. It *looks* shorter than last years list, but only because I didn't get free seeds this year. (It's okay, Seed Savers. I still love you.)

-Masai Bush Haricots Verts
-Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean
-Multicolored Pole Bean Mix
-Windsor Fava Bean
-Taylor Dwarf Horticultural Shell Bean
-Black Coco Bean
-King of the Early Bean
-Blizzard Snow Pea OG
-Easter Egg Radish
-Shinden Risoh Daikon Radish
-White Egg Turnip
-Prisma Shallots
-Mustard Mix
-Fish Hot Pepper
-Some Like it Hot Pepper Mix
-Verde Puebla Tomatillo OG
-Green Zebra Tomato
-Cherokee Purple Tomato
-Sun Gold Cherry Tomato
-Sweet Basil
-Anise Basil
-Wild Bergamot OG
-Zefa Fino Fennel
-Broadleaf Sage
-Danish Flag Poppy
-Akanata Mame - Sword Bean
-Kyoto Kujo Negi- Bunching Onion
-Ginkaku Korean Melon
-Tae Baek - Korean Radish
-Kurogoma -Black Sesame

The plot's legume heavy this year. I also requested a couple trial varieties, but I'm not sure if they'll pull through or not. I'm also holding out hope for purple tomatillos and Purple Russian tomatoes. I haven't sorted through my seed box to see if any are left from last year. If not, I may have to do an emergency purchase. And I'm going to do some cover cropping - rye and vetch, and buckwheat.

I'm really excited about the bergamot (bee balm), which is supposed to grow cooperatively with tomatoes, and attract insects that eat or parasitize nasties AND attract pollinators. Oh, and it's supposed to make a mean tea.

I'm planning a veritable fence row of pole beans, because it's fun having something so clearly enthusiastic in the garden. Squash and melons are out, except for my own last attempt at growing melons. (I love them, and cannot come to terms with the total non-response of all things squash and melon last year.) These are small and fast, and Korea has a short growing season. I'm also planning on buying row covers for them. If it doesn't work this year, I'll add melons to my black list.

Things on my blacklist from last year:
Corn - because it attracted umpteen thousand beetles and didn't pollinate, leaving me one mockery of a kernel of corn amongst all the ears, and because it sucks nutrients and has a long season. Seriously, this is not a small-plot friendly crop.
Cucumbers - two cucumbers are not an adequate return from three plants. And one was bitter.
Eggplant - I don't have anythign against eggplant, but it wasn't prolific enough for it's deliciousness. If I only sort-of like a plant, it has to have a redeeming factor, like being fun to grow, or super attractive, or something. Mine weren't, so they're off the plot until I gain a passion for them or read a *really* tempting description.
Lovage - because it is disgusting. Seriously, seriously disgusting. People eat this? Voluntarily?
Marjoram - just not enthusiastic enough to warrant a place in the herb patch. I got three sprigs.
Squash - I think I need to baby my plants more, or maybe I just am doing it wrong, or maybe my garden hates squash. Either way, all the plants died horrible, horrible deaths.

Some of this looks like fertility issues - pollination and/or soil. Hopefully the soil will improve with time and cover crops (and every other type of organic matter I can lay my hands on). Maybe I'll try marjoram again when I've upped the soil quality. I love winter squash, so I can't imagine I won't attempt it again. But sticking with the tried and true - tomatoes, beans, more beans, radishes, turnips, tomatillos - and the only the deeply loved finicky ones - peas, shallots - and the experimental - sage, sesame - until I get the right mix is the way to go. Maybe eventually I'll have spare space again to trial big plants on, but a hill of squash will fit a load of other plants. Diversity is definitely my preference, especially when production is questionable.