With March around the corner and having a garden to plot out, I thought it might be wise to decide what I should plant this year. While I have a rough idea of what I want to plant, I need to consider the space I have available, where the sun will be shining throughout the day, what I want to cook with possible vegetables, how much tending I want to do, how much space certain plants take up, and how much of a demand there is for certain vegetables in my family.
Here is a rough list of what I would like to plant:
There are many other things I want to plant but I know I won’t even have enough room for all of the plants listed above.
Today I measured out my garden space and to my surprise it was quite larger than I was expecting; 9’x24’! That’s three times the size of my garden last year! …What am I getting myself into? Just kidding, I am looking forward to it a lot and while I know this is probably going to be three times the work as last year (especially getting the garden set up for the first year) I know the return in food will be three times the size of last year, if not more. That’s one of the best parts about gardening; digging, sweating, lifting, leaning over, sweating, trimming, building, sweating, becoming frustrated with weeds, pests, and Jordan and then, receiving the fruits of your labor. It makes all that hard work worth it because you have sustained yourself with that effort. Plus you get to soak in the warm rays from the sun.
Here’s a visual of the chunk I will use.
As you can see, with the big “N,” the yard is facing directly north so the sun will come up from the right side of the picture and move towards the left throughout the day. This space will have a lot of sun although the right side of the garden may be a good place for the plants that need shade (lettuce and Swiss chard).
Salsa is a large commodity in Jordan’s house so I know tomatoes will be a must. Actually, tomatoes in general are a staple in Jordan’s family. Last summer they went through three batches of salsa in two weeks. A batch was about two gallons and contained at least 15 tomatoes. I also want to make homemade spaghetti sauce sometime during the summer so I will need multiple tomato plants.
To experiment with canning some more, I want to pickle cucumbers and spicy green beans so they will remain on the list! The Achocha’s are just something Jordan and I are curious about because they have little spikes that look more soft than prickly on the vibrant green skin of the cucumber. Like those gooey toy balls you can get for a quarter at the bowling alley from a dispenser. I also have a weird thing with touching things (non-touch museums are NOT good for me) and I really want to see what they feel like…what would it feel like on my tongue? Here’s a bigger picture of what they look like:
Achochas are a mix between a cucumber and a pepper. When you cut them open they have black seeds similar to the size of bell pepper seeds, and they’re supposed to have a burst of water like cucumbers do. I’m imagining a rush of water tinged with tangy notes of sweet pepper.
Peppers and lettuce are also an obvious given because they’re another basic item my family uses a lot to make salads, add some flavor to eggs, hamburger/sandwich toppings, and the list goes on. Now what I am more concerned about are the vine-y and gourd-y plants like squash, watermelon, and cantaloupe. Because these aren’t as much as a desired item and take up a lot of space, I have decided I won’t grow these.
I am hesitant to grow corn because it is known to be a challenge to grow in smaller areas due to its pollination. For corn to grow to its potential, pollen must cover the silk where the ear of the corn will start to grow. Therefore, the more corn you plant, the more pollen your corn silk will have. When you only plant a few stalks, your corn won’t produce to its potential because of the lack of pollen. BUT Jordan is bound and determined to try corn again (I attempted last year and failed) so I will try again but this year I will plant more to aid in the pollination process. Another plant I am hesitant to grow is strawberries. This is because they don’t cultivate a lot the first year. It usually takes a few seasons for the plant to produce a good amount but I guess if you want strawberries, you have to start them sometime! So they have made the list as well.
After considering many factors of what to plant, here’s the final list:
- Sweet Corn
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Swiss Chard
- Green Onions
- 5 Color Chinese Peppers
- Green Beans
- Sweet Peppers