getting ready for spring gardening

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Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture
getting ready for spring gardening

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

The 'Carbon comparison' thread got side-tracked into a discussion of gardening, and I thought a new thread would be better for this discussion.

I know it's early - where I live, we're at least three months away from doing any outdoor seeding and planting - but best to be prepared. Besides, here, we can drift into the benefits of having your own garden, and what's best for planting in different areas, new species of veggies and fruits, and so on.

I live on Quebec's Lower North Shore, just below the tip of Labrador, and east of Anticosti. Our nearest big city is Sept-Iles. We are not connected by a road system - most of our fruits and veggies arrive by container ship nine months of the year, and by small plane or skidoo in the winter.

I live in Zone Three, so I need to plant things hardy to Zone 2 or 3. No one to my knowledge has succeeded in growing tomatoes outdoors here - only in greenhouses.

I have a good-sized outdoor garden, and will be adding a greenhouse eventually. I have two small flower gardens, and am transplanting shrubbery from the bush and bog as I am able.

Abdul_Maria

right now i live in an apartment. i still belong to a community garden in SF. last year i cut my foot real bad, at home, right after i planted all my seedlings. then we had a week of sun. by the time i made it back ... not many left.

one plant i would like to continue with is Chamomile. i drink chamomile tea a few times a day and the tea-bags can get a little expensive.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Chamomille is a great idea, thanks. I have print catalogues that came to me after I registered at some of the online gardening stores - amazing what you can order online, and I like to go to bed with one of these catalogues every night and do some dreaming about what I can plant here. I especially like Vesey's and Dominion Seed House. I'm going to plant sunflowers everywhere - the birds love them.

Abdul_Maria

thanks for reminding me about sunflowers !

i would like to learn to press sunflowers, peanuts, & soybeans to extract the oil for biodiesel.

i have pictures of a manual press. one heck of a workout. bust your buns and get maybe a cup of oil. do that 16 times and you have a gallon.

the leftover mash is about as nutritious as before the oil is removed.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I won't have enough sunflowers to do anything but feed the birds, and some snacks for myself. They're beautiful flowers though - check out this link: [url=http://www.veseys.com/ca/en/search?keywords=sunflowers]Sunflowers from Veseys[/url] .

Tommy_Paine

Last summer, on my walks here and there I collected seeds from trees I liked. I have a bunch from our Christmas tree, a fir of some kind.

I was just thinking, before I read this thread title, that I'd like to get some potting soil and start them off soon. Maybe this weekend. I have to find some place to put them though, my few south facing windows are already full with house plants, and a passion flower vine that is spending the winter indoors.

I have a modest little tree farm on the go here, and with a niece and nephew living on five acres between Appin and West ForLorn, Ont., and friends on a farm in Dundalk who lost some trees due to a December ice storm, I have no problem finding homes for them.

Last September I took fifteen maples, almost three feet high, and two ash trees (hopefully, the ash borer will miss them, as they are small) and spent the day planting them with my nephew and my grand nephews. It was a fun day-- even though digging in the hard clay of that region was a challenge.

I planted them incorrectly, btw. I dug too deep, and back filled with peat moss. My thinking was influenced by very dry conditions last September.

A day after I planted them, it started to rain, and rain and rain. My planting method might actually lead to the saplings being "drowned". The roots need some oxygen, as I learned later.

And then, some deer grazed the tips of them, my nephew tells me.

Anywho, I expected a 50% die off, so I already have replacements ready to go for them, and this time I will follow Ministry advice on tree planting.

This year I will plant the oak seedlings that survived the attacks of the squirel vermin, a jack pine that is almost a yard high now, and maybe a black locust, depending on how it has survived the winter. It sprouted late.

Actually, I just remembered that many tree and wildflower seeds need to be stratified in order to germinate. I think I will plant the seeds and put them outside to go through the regular freeze thaw cycles that the might need. I use clear plastic bottles with the tops cut off to cloche small plants.

Yes....yes this will do nicely....mwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha *cough*.

(It helps to pretend it's an evil plot for world tree domination.)

[ 02 February 2007: Message edited by: Tommy_Paine ]

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

[img]http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a275/biglagoon/06_11_0614_59_02.jpg[/img]

I was surfin' through the Garden Web when I came upon this [url=http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/strucs/msg060302466879.html]useful thread[/url]. I need a greenhouse, and I have a few old windows in storage. I think I will build something like this (photo above).

Farmpunk

Certain kinds of glass work better than other for greenhouse growing, BB.

Much easier to work with is greenhouse grade plastic, which again, comes in various grades and forms.

We have several large greenhouses here. One plastic and one glass. They're entirely different growing enviroments.

For outdoor, row garden work, I would suggest a low level hoop setup, or something similar. Last year I made up a bunch of tri-angular clear-plastic portable row covers about 16 feet long that worked excellent. I ate fresh peppers in November. In fact, BB, with a set-up like that, growing a short day variety, you could probably pull off a tomato crop.

A small greenhouse like the posted pic would give your plants a good head start, and combined with some kind of row cover for frost protection, I think you'd be surprised at what crops you could pull off.

Tommy_Paine

A co-worker bought plans for a solar wood dryer, and built it last year. He does a lot of wood working. I forget the actual temperature differences from outside to inside, but I remember it being staggering. I think it would have utility as a supplemental heating device for a house.

I mention it because, in my neck of the woods, a green house would only have utility in the early and late part of the year. By May, a good warm sunny day would cook plants if there wasn't a good, and automated ventilation system.

What I find works for me is something I saw on Martha Stewart years ago, a technique called clocheing. (sp?) Of course, Martha used big expensive glass bell shaped cloches imported from France, but clear plastic jugs and soft drink containers do the same thing. For plants that I am protecting from the worst of winter, I cut no extra holes in them. For seedlings and other plants that I want to grow a little more by increasing the overnight and daytime temperatures in our fickle springs and falls, I cut small vent holes so that the warmer days don't cook them.

That way I don't have to monitor them so much.

But that greenhouse looks like it would work really well in your climate and with just a little monitoring, you wouldn't have to instal any kind of ventilation system.

Not to mention that it's just a whole lot of fun taking what would be scrap materials and bodging them together into something usefull.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I have a pile of plastic water jugs (4 liter) that I'd like to use somehow. I think you just gave me an idea - maybe I could use them to hold starter plants? Any other uses for them? (the water supply here isn't very reliable - most folks here buy bottled water).

Tommy_Paine

Usually that size is white opague plastic, so I'm not sure, other than winter protection, that they'd be good as cloches.

But if water supply is an issue, maybe they could be used in series to gather rain water from an eavestrough downspout? There'd be a lot of serious tinkering involved there. A more practicle idea would be a barrel, which leaves you back with your excess of 4L jugs.

I've thought of a rain barrel myself, for watering the garden. Home Despot sells them for about $50.00, I think, complete with a spigot on the bottom for your hose. But then you have to build something to keep it a bit off the ground so gravity will deliver the water, so there's added cost there, too.

But I keep looking around for something more home made. One day, something will come along.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

The 4 liter jugs are clear plastic - I think I'll cut the tops off a few and use them to start seedlings. I'm trying to think how they might be useful in a greenhouse. Collecting rainwater is a great idea.

Farmpunk

Greenhouse ventilation is simple. Doesn't have to be automated. For ground level, row cover style units like I used, I simply prop up both ends with blocks and allowed natural air flow. Plants die in greenhouses, get cooked, because of a lack of fresh air circulation, not just because of heat. Course, if it's hot in your g-house, then you need to water more, as well (contributing to the cooling), and compensate nutritionally for a vastly increased rate of plant growth.

The biggest greenhouse ops I know are located in the extreme south parts of Ontario, and Niagara, and are run year round, in stunning heat.

Another style of in-ground, row crop growing that you might like to check into, BB, is using black bio-plastic overtop of the soil. This also helps with keeping weeds under control.

Here's a simple link to check out: [url=http://www.hoophouse.com/home-hobbyist.html]http://www.hoophouse.com/hom...

And: [url=http://www.angelfire.com/oh2/boulderbeltcsa/rowcover.html]http://www.ang...

Abdul_Maria

oooh, that is such a fun-looking greenhouse in the picture above.

there's a lot to be said for using available materials. in my case, that means plastic shopping bags. i've been saving them. i won't start taping them together into square meter patches until i land the deal on the land, and verify that the tape i'm using is good for low temperatures.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Some great ideas in this thread! Thanks. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

oreobw

Re stuff to plant...I don't grow much of anything to eat as my garden is too shady (I live in an old part of downtown Toronto).

I do however, always have a pot or two of herbs near my back door. Usually stuff like parsley, basil, marjorum, etc. Some herbs are selected to eat, some just for scent or appearance. This should work fine in your climate.

I tried a couple of tomato plants once but the raccoons got them before I did.

[ 04 February 2007: Message edited by: oreobw ]

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

oreobw, we've got the same situation (two huge shade trees), and we mostly stick to herbs, too (tons of potted basil, two rosemary bushes - one in the garden, one in a pot that comes in for the winter - sage & tarragon in the garden, and oregano gone wild everywhere). We have had great luck with cherry tomatoes, though, and grow a couple of pots of them on the deck.

Tommy_Paine

quote:


The biggest greenhouse ops I know are located in the extreme south parts of Ontario, and Niagara, and are run year round, in stunning heat.

Yes, very true Farmpunk, but all that I have seen have large industrial fans, or the more modern ones have walls that can be retracted when it gets hot.

I'm a lazy gardener. I garden when I feel the need to do something with my hands. So, I look for solutions that are home made, and require little fuss after the feeling of doing something with my hands passes.

My experience with herbs is for the most part positive, as far as growing them goes. Far too positive, in fact.

I have tyme growing all over my lawn now, and a sage bush that I "trim" with a hand sickle twice a year.

I recommend planting them with an eye to containment.

Thinking about this, I should really move this spring to find a way to harness rain water. The price of water in London is astronomical. I wish we were located near some of the Great Lakes, then it might be cheaper.

[img]rolleyes.gif" border="0[/img]

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Darn. My online supplier, Veseys, doesn't carry sage bush. But I saw catnip - didn't know you could use it in salads and tea. So, I've ordered a packet of seeds. Will probably have an invasion of the local cats. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

KenS

Greenhouse grade plastic is the best. But there is no point bthering with the extra cost unless you can leave everyting in place.

Best bang for the buck is CMHC graded vapour barrier, the more expensive stuff that is required by building code.

If you take it off in 5-6 months you can use it 2 years.

Tommy_Paine

Catnip grows as a weed here. I've had cats that go nuts for the stuff and act like their stoned when they eat a bit of it. I've had other cats that seem to be totally imune or uninterested in it.

I'm going by memory, because I'm to lazy to google, but I think Catnip is part of the mint family, and people have been known to use it as an upset stomach remedy. I caution against ingesting things like that without knowing the exact active properties. My English relatives swore by comphry leaves as a joint pain reliever. Turns out comphry can be dangerous.

I will swear though, that catnip is an amazing mosquito repellent. I heard about that property on the Discovery chanel, and tested it myself when I was being eaten alive on a back porch near Kingston a few years ago.

I applied it in stages, and sure enough, the mosquitoes would leave the catnip rubbed areas alone in favour of the catnip free areas, like magic.

You don't need to rub the leaves on your skin with any force, a light application is all that it takes. Whatever chemical is in catnip that repells mosqutoes is, I am willing to bet, less detrimental than DEET.

The only problem is that catnip isn't harvestable when you need it most, in May with the most voracious first hatch of mosquitoes.

Abdul_Maria

if catnip repels mosquitoes, then it can be used to stop the transmission of the West Nile Virus ... and the terrorists might have West Nile Virus ... Someone tell the Department of Homeland Security !

i must live in America.

but actually, it's very good to learn, about catnip that is.

if you're sitting outside and you've used catnip to take care of the mosquitoes, how would a pet cat react ?

Southlander

One of the tricks to using a glasshouse in hot weather is never water onto the leaves in the heat. My Dad did that our first year in Aussie, and the smell of cabbages cooking filled the air.

oreobw

Re catnip, you can usually buy small plants in early May if you live near a garden centre.

I have cats and have catnip around sometimes. If I have some on my hands or feet they just rub against me. No actual danger to me.

But they certainly hang around.

Tommy_Paine

I have suggested using catnip to people, and they joke about getting festooned with cats. Then they go back to whinning about the mosquitoes.

Unless I am swarmed, I ignore the little blighters. I go out in late May, unprotected in the mature woods or wet lands, and get bit. On the worst ones, I use the plantain. I think the worst bites are the first ones, as your immune system isn't geared up for the chemical that causes the itching yet. Bites later in the year don't seem to itch hardly at all. So I go out, invite the bites and get it over with early. That way I can enjoy the outdoors later in the year.

Except, of course, for the high pitched whinning of the mosquito complainers.

[img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I don't see many mosquitoes here unless they blow in from somewhere else. The blackflies are worse. I'm going to grow catnip because it's a beautiful plant. I'd love to grow hemp, but for some insane reason it's illegal. I'm always looking for some interesting ground cover besides boring old green grass. I've got a large veggie garden, and two small flower gardens - in the spring, I'm looking to expand all of them, and plant shrubbery and sunflowers everywhere, and a few trees. And a greenhouse or two for plants that won't grow outside. This isn't a big property by any means, but it has potential.

Tommy_Paine

What I have done in the past few years is to try to collect seeds from wildflowers I see in meadows and in the woods. My thinking is that if these plants thrive without human attention, then they will stand a good chance of providing me with colour and no fuss. Remember, I am a lazy gardener. The wildflowers and plants also bring in native butterflies and such. Reminds me, I have to get that milkweed growing. I'm told it's hard to propagate from seed, but I want to give it a shot. Queen Anne's lace, and others from the carrot family also attract another large butterfly...can't remember the name now.

I wish I would have started twenty years ago to turn my backyard into a small slice of the Bruce Peninsula. Some limestone, some cedar trees, and purloined wildflower seeds from the area would have been nice by now. And a rattlesnake or two might have kept the squirels down.

Abdul_Maria

i've been collecting seeds from food plants (apples, for example) and also tree seeds ("Cool Tree #1", "Cool Tree #2", etc.) I think I'm up to Cool Tree #6.

i planted some of them, also including tomatoes.

Brian White

In victoria, peas and parsnips, and set onions and broad beans can be sown outside now. But I sow them inside first. Am trying the woven plastic "wool" to protect plants this year for the first time, kinda like cloches, i guess. It is used commercially to protect carrots from carrot fly. Keeps the wind and the worst of the cold off of plants too.

Farmpunk

BoomBoom, Vesey's?? Noooo.
Stokes Seeds.

Kidding. But I do most of my business with Stokes. Less flowers, more power veggies.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

This was my first time ordering online, and I forget why I went to Veseys, but their catalogues fill my needs - almost. I wouldn't order online if there was a garden shop or nursery here. I'll have a look at the Stokes catalogue.

I want a good veggie garden but also flower gardens, trees, and shrubs - I have a lot of landscaping to do here.

Farmpunk

BB, you can't go wrong with either Veseys or Stokes. Over the years I've found, and my farming and gardening friends have found Veseys a little less reliable in terms of seed quality. I'm sure someone else has had similar experiences with Stokes. I believe that Stokes has a larger seed stock...

At any rate, I've been very impressed with my Stokes stock.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Farmpunk:
Over the years I've found, and my farming and gardening friends have found Veseys a little less reliable in terms of seed quality.

Arrrggghhhhh! I sent a large order to Veseys last week. [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img]

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Just remembered there's a good supply of used green treated 8" x 8" thick wood beams at the dump from a bridge construction project. It ocurred to me these will be good to use as a base for the new greenhouse (probably similar to the one pictured above) I hope to build with old glass windows I have lying around in the barn. Might be good for property and garden edging, and maybe as a base for a fence. They're old beams so I imagine the green chemical has soaked through and dried and poses no health problem. Comment?

oreobw

If by "green" you mean pressure treated then most garden people do not use them around beds where anything is grown for human consumption. They are okay for general plants, flowers, shrubs, etc.

Also, if you saw them up do it outside in a breeze.

There are two methods of pressure treating wood, one was banned recently, I think due to arsenic leaching, the newer kind is better but I still would not use them near anything I was going to eat.

I just re-built my front deck and used pressure treated wood. No problem here as I'm not going to chew on the deck. Also, okay as a greenhouse base as plants in the green house would be in pots.

Sorry, if the above is obvious.

[ 10 February 2007: Message edited by: oreobw ]

[ 10 February 2007: Message edited by: oreobw ]

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Yes, "pressure treated" is the expression I was looking for. Thanks for the reminder not to use them around veggies or fruits. I'll stick to using them as the base of the greenhouse and some fencing/property edging. Just back from the dump and found the wood is covered by a heavy layer of snow, so will have to wait a while before I can get at them.

Farmpunk

BB, don't worry about Vesey's seed stock too much. I'm partial to Stokes because their service has been outstanding, and because I've found some varities that work very well for me, here.

What did you order, BB?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

If the stuff from Veseys doesn't do well, I'll order from Stokes next year. Although, the staff at Veseys have been helpful in making sure I don't order anything outside my hardiness zone, although somehow I did get three packets of herb seeds that need a warmer clime.

I've ordered catnip, an indoor herb garden, four varieties each of: cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, turnip, watermelon, carrots, onions;
six varieties of beans; one variety of corn and spinach. I can be more specific if you wish. There's some other stuff but it hasn't arrived yet.

Brian White

I have no beer made right now so I tried something new to stop the slugs getting my peas.   Hydrated lime is a powder sold in farm and building supply stores.  I grew the seeds inside and planted them out when about 2 inches high.   This year I put about a spoonful of hydrated lime round (without touching) each pea plant.  the reason is that slugs and ground catapilars love them. and will munch them down in a second. It has been 3 days now and the peas are still unharmed.  Hydrated lime is calcium hydroxide. It is caustic and it gradually turns into calcium carbonate which  is almost inert. (Limestone).

You must be aware of the caustic nature of hydrated lime, so be careful handling it.   Even so, I think it might be safer than using slug pellets.

I dont know if anyone else has tried it?

Brian

PraetorianFour

Can anyone suggest some nice plants for an office that are easy to maintain for someone who has no idea about gardening or plants?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

 

It's actually been the mildest winter in our history, so I ordered my seeds for planting. We still have frost every night - there's no snow anywhere here - and the ground is still pretty hard, so I don't know exactly how much earlier I'll be able to plant than normally is the case.

Here's what I ordered, for our Hardiness Zone 3a and below:

Vista Watermelon
Red Baron Onion
Burpee's Rhubarb Swiss Chard
Stir-Fry Collection Veggies
Blue Curled Scotch Kale
Lettuce Collection
Seaside Mix Wildflowers (can tolerate some salt spray)
Cucumber Collection
Carrot Collection
Bird & Butterfly Mix Wildflowers (designed to attract butterflies and small birds)
Indigo Radicchio
Helenor Organic Turnip

 

 

(cross posted to another forum)

 

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

[quote=PraetorianFour]

Can anyone suggest some nice plants for an office that are easy to maintain for someone who has no idea about gardening or plants?

[/quote]

Flowering cactus - and they last forever. The occasional liquid cactus food mixed in a bit of water, and transplanting eventually into a larger pot, are all the care they need. 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

You could also try a [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorophytum_comosum]Spider Plant[/url]

 

[quote]

It is a popular houseplant. The most widely grown is the variegated cultivar 'Variegatum', with one or two broad yellowish-white bands running along the length of each leaf, but natural, entirely green plants are also grown. The Spider Plant is an especially popular plant with beginners, as it is easy to grow and propagate and is very tolerant of neglect, being able to thrive in a wide range of conditions.[2]

Spider plants have also been shown to reduce indoor air pollution.[3]

[/quote]

PraetorianFour

Thank you very much.  I'm going to see if walmart has them.  I'm slowly going to turn my office green, I'll start with the odd tidy subtle plant and by the end my office will be a shrine to the nature gods  (=

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

If you can find someone who has a spider plant you won't need to purchase one as I'm sure they'd give you a baby to start.  They're so easy to multiply.  I would never pay for one.

al-Qa'bong

[quote]

Thank you very much.  I'm going to see if walmart has them.[/quote]

 

As was so eloquently stated on another thread, "gah...."

PraetorianFour

Oops! I didn't mean walmart! Bad PraetorianFour! (=  There is actually some kind of garden green house looking thing near my house I'll swing by there and see if they can set me up.

Is there any sort of rule or law or anything I should be worried about? Can i get a hard time for having a plant in my office?  Can someone find it offensive or be allergic to it ??

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

[quote=PraetorianFour]

Can anyone suggest some nice plants for an office that are easy to maintain for someone who has no idea about gardening or plants?

[/quote]

The "ZZ Plant": very attractive, although a little slow growing it does grow steadily. Your biggest risk is overwatering, otherwise the plant is extremely hardy - you have to work at it to cause it any harm. Very tolerant of cold draughts, does not require direct light especially if you have fluorscent overheads. Try to find a small one at your greenhouse as larger ones (over 12") are dreadfully overpriced. This plant does have large blooms, (about once a year), stalk and bloom are a lighter green than the leaves.

zz plant

 

Also nice is the old standy-by, Rubber Plant: very suitable for low-light conditions. Generally very hardy, but soil must be kept moist. Do not put in direct sunlight. May need staking as it grows over time, but is also slow growing. A little trailing ivy in the pot also looks very nice.

Rubber Plant

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Veseys has this Top Ten list for beginning veggie gardeners:

 

  • Tomato - Mosaic Mix and Tomande. Start tomato seeds indoors in mid-April or 6-8 weeks before last frost. Do not put plants outside until all risk of frost has passed.
  • Beets - Merlin. No thinning is required. Plant in early May, as soon as the ground can be worked.
  • Lettuce - Baby Leaf Blend. Plant in early May, as soon as the ground can be worked. Sow every 2 weeks for a continual crop.
  • Peas - Sugar Sprint. Does not require a trellis. Plant treated seed in early May, as soon as the ground can be worked.
  • Radishes - Rebel. Plant in early May, as soon as the ground can be worked.
  • Carrots - Napoli. Best tasting early carrot. Plant in mid-May or 2-4 weeks before last frost.
  • Beans - Goldrush and Valentino. Plant treated seed in early June.
  • Cucumber - Sweeter Yet. Plant first of June after risk of frost has passed.
  • Zucchini - Richgreen. Plant in early June, after all danger of frost has passed and when the soil has warmed to 21°C.
  • Pumpkin - Neon. Compact plant. Best pumpkin for pies and Halloween. Plant in early June, after all danger of frost has passed and when the soil has warmed to 21°C.
  • I've never had luck with growing beans, peas, or pumpkin here - probably not warm enough.

    ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

    I'm putting the final touches on my seed orders. I have a lot of seed saved from last year so I'll stay with the most of my tried and true varieties. I like to try a few new things every year though. Heirloom seed availability has exploded over the few years and there are just so many choices of interesting things to try.

    I get my seed from a variety of places. Terra Edibles, Veseys, Saltspring Island Seed Company and William Damm Seeds.

    I have over thirty variety of tomato seed on hand, some saved and some leftover from the past couple of years. I've tested all of them and have picked about ten that have done well here in terms of yield, bug resistance and taste. This year I'm trying out three new ones.

    Hendersons Pink Ponderosa : A large tomato up to 2lbs. I have yet to find a big tomato variety that does really well in my conditions. Most get chomped up by the zillions of doodle bugs I have around here. Instead if fighting this losing battle with these bugs I'm just searching for varieties that do well despite them. Most of the ones I am growing this year don't seem to be bugged by them for whatever reason.

    Japanese Triefle Black : A purple, potato leaf tomato that comes from Russia. I've had good success with other purple tomatos, they taste good and do very well in a variety of conditions including colder weather. I expect that's due to where they come from. Most purple varieties come out of more northern climes like Russia.

    Longkeeper: Midseason, medium size tomato that's noted for it's a ability to keep well in cool storage after it's picked as well as ripen from the green state.In some trial articles people were still eating ones they'd pick at the end of October into early January.

    I'll be starting about a dozen tomato plants next week. I've got a test space set up in the garden for planting them out about 6 weeks earlier then usual. The rest will go out at their regular time in June.

    I'm trying out a few new varieties of lettuce and a small melon called Minnesota. It only gets 3ft vines and can easily be trellised. I've had great success with melons and squash but end up with mega plants that take right over. A 20 to thirty foot vine is normal here.

    I'm trying out a small four by four test plot of wheat. Though I haven't decided on what variety. I do have the space to grow more if I want to but want to test it out before I put in the effort.

    I'm going a bit bean crazy this year. I don't eat a lot of green beans but love dried beans. I'm focusing more on pole beans to save space for other things. I'm planning to plant them along a couple of fence lines and pretty much anywhere else where there is even a bit of good soil so they can go up. Last year I trellised some so they went over the paths between the beds. I'm trying out about a dozen different varieties this year.

    Oh and chickpeas/garbanzo beans. I love hummus so I figure I should give them a shot.

    My biggest project this year is mushrooms. I'll be inoculating some areas of my property with more wild varieties like morels and crossing my fingers. I'm also building a small mushroom house to grow oyster and shitakes in a more controlled environment. It's basically like a regular greenhouse excepted it's insulated. It's possible to grow them year round. I'd also like to try out the regular button mushrooms and portabellos but they are a lot more work to set up in the beginning so that may or may not happen this year.

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