Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I've been planning the garden this week. The seed catalogs arrived before the Solstice, and I've flipped through them, lusting after enough varieties to plant a garden the size of Toledo. Now I have to winnow them down, picking what I can fit into approximately 99 square feet of raised beds.

We have created good soil here, composting and occasionally buying bags of soil and composted manure. Some years we only manage to plant tomatoes and peppers, other years we branch out and put in more. Last year we had an excellent patch of potatoes, beautiful garlic, tons of swiss chard, about a million leeks, way too many tomatoes and peppers, and 2 varieties of patty pan squash that succumbed to squash bugs after a pretty good run. We also had 2 varieties of salad turnips and some terrific volunteer sunflowers that fed the birds.

Our failures- the eggplant never did much of anything, and the okra produced approximately 4 pods. The zucchini was overwhelmed by the patty pan squash. I was too soft hearted and allowed the volunteer tomatoes to take over an area, and I didn't thin the leeks so my harvest, while numerous, were all small. Next year we'll do better.

But here's the thing- between our garden and our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription, we were able to eat local vegetables from early May until, well, I pulled carrots out of the garden on Sunday. I have a freezer full of (pencil thin!) leeks waiting to be made into soup, as well as escarole, spinach, chard and kale. My grocery bill dropped dramatically, and we ate well.

So- what will go in the garden next year? I discovered Collards and Kale this fall, and have reserved a place for them. I'd like to try some black-eyed peas and lentils; it's hard to get local dried beans. I've got my eye on a variety of soybeans called Jet Black, and some purple and some red carrots. After visiting a Bosnian grocery store last week and purchasing a pepper relish called Ajvar (pronounced EYE var), I have decided to put in a bunch of sweet non-bell peppers so I can make my own. And of course, tomatoes, hot peppers and squash.