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Greener Thumb
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Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:01 am
Location: Chesterfield, Va


As I gazed over the garden today, I kind of wondered how it got so diverse and why. The garden has expanded to include about 45 different varieties of veggies and fruits. And I think....why?

I have portioned off a huge section for squash, why? I don't even like squash that much except in stir fry or pasta dishes.

Radishes, why? except in an occasional salad, I just don't eat them that often, even though I do like them.

Meanwhile I don't grow enough of the things my family loves. Like corn, beans, potatoes and tomatoes.

I think next year, (yes I'm already thinking of next year, and I know I"m not the only one!) I will simplify it and just grow a lot more of the things we love. Two squash plants will be plenty for us. And one packet of radish seeds will more than suffice. Next year will be lots of herbs, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, peas, garlic, onions, lettuce and the fruits. Spinach is a must as well as cabbage. But no more devoting a whole row to exotic things that take up room that we don't use. I'm feeling a little disappointed today. Poor planning on my part.

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Location: Central PA

>>And I think....why?

methinks you have a point.

I don't grow sweet corn anymore - why? because "in season" it's dirt cheap and "in garden" it takes up a huge amount of space for the yield.
same for watermelon, cucumbers, summer squash... and probably many more.

I concentrate on stuff:
- we like but is not available locally
- freezes well
- good stuff that gets ate before it "ends"

examples - some get rather outrageous -

green peas - not available - local growers tell me fresh green peas don't sell well because the soccer moms don't understand how to get the peas out of the pod.

lima beans - because everyone knows everyone hates lima beans, well - except us chickens
then, there's the soccer mom issue . . .

okra - we're in PA. nobody here grows okra; if you want it fresh, you gotta' grow it yeself.

potatoes - I do enough potatoes to last us fresh dug until the ground freezes.
tomatoes / peppers / green beans / wax beans - I do in plenty because they freeze well. (tomatoes I stew down and use as stewed tomato or for homemade pizza....)

etc. etc.

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because the soccer moms don't understand how to get the peas out of the pod.

I loaded up on peas, lima beans, and green beans, for the same reason. No one sells lima beans and peas of any quality, and the green beans aren't around long.

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After reading Carol Deppe's book Resilient Gardener, Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times, my garden seems to have patterned after it.
"Including the Five Crops You Need to Survive and Thrive - Potatoes, Corn, Beans, Winter squash and Duck eggs.

60ft of Yukon Gold potatoes
80ft of potato from True Seeds. ( Not sure if this counts, mixed results)
2 Beds, 3ft wide x 20ft long of dry storage beans.
500ft (about) cornmeal corn (flour)
150 plants of winter squash
10 Ancona ducks, on order that should have arrived a month ago. :twisted:

Other storage crops: carrots, beets, onions, garlic, sun-chokes and many tree / bush fruits - berries.


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I am actually gonna grow more beets in the fall and less radishes. I like radishes but rarely eat them. I think the reason I grew so many was because they were really easy to grow. I put some carrots in a spot and then let them flower and now I am thinking they are in a bad spot, same thing with some arugula. I want to rip it out but it is producing flowers/seeds so I might as well get some seeds out of it.

This year though, I planned better than I did last year. I will be even planning better next year. Just grow what you eat most. It is just fun to try new things and see how they grow. But when you got small garden space you need to use it wisely.

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Marlin, I didn't mean to sound like I was totally smashing myself, it's just that when trying something new I really don't need to go quite so "balls to the wall" with it. I'm not against trying new things, it's just that I already know the kids will eat snow peas (in the pod) till their faces turn green, so why did I only grow about 4 ft of them? And the beans (although they are doing a little poorly because I planted them in 100% horse bedding compost) freeze well and the whole family likes them. I did up the amount of potatoes I am growing this year. I tried the no dig method and they are thriving!! I'm hoping to get at least one berry out of all these flowers but nothing yet. So far they all seem to be sterile.

I think, like someone else stated, with limited space it is important to prioritize. Live and learn :wink:

We may just have to find a way to love squash lol. Wonder what it tastes like pickled....? I seem to love almost anything pickled....except eggs. I almost lost my lunch the one time I tried those.

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In Utah, the "big four" top producers for family food are corn, beans, potatoes and squash. I always recommend these things to gardeners. Tomatoes are a favorite too. I say plant what you like to eat. No use growing okra if you hate the stuff.

I will confess, I have close to 40 varieties myself. I enjoy it all. I grow far more than I need for my family. I enjoy sharing. I recently did a post called "Its Addictive". Will you agree?

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Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:32 am
Location: Charlotte, NC

I was just thinking the same thing about squash. I see the photos in catalogs and they look so cute. Plus they are easy to grow. Now that it is producing my family gives me the stink eye every time they see me cutting up squash for dinner. They are sick of it. I think they are actually looking forward to SVB's showing up.

However, one of the things I really like is trying new things in the garden. Sometimes they are total failures. Sometimes, however, I discover something new. Last year I tried fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes and tomatillos for the first time. The fingerling potato haul was so so. I decided to pass on those this year. However, the sweet potato haul was great and we discovered we love salsa verde made from tomatillos. Those two plants are now a regular part of the summer rotation.

Radishes....they are calling my name. I hate them but for some reason I want to grow them. They are also so cute. My husband has said he will eat them but I doubt in the quantities that I for some reason want to grow them...

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Learn lots of new ways to eat your squash. You didn't say is it summer squash or winter squash or a combination. But either way, you can make squash bread, squash pie, squash soup, squash ravioli, steam it, bake it, fry it, grill it, and yes pickle it.

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I try to grow what I know we will eat plus what will can well. I also like to try new things, from time to time! Parsnips were a total failure this year, not one seed sprouted.

As I continue to expand the size of the garden I'll try other new stuff. Sweet taters is definitely going on the list. I also have a packet of kohlrabi seed I wanted to try this year.

I planted watermelon and sweet corn this year. I haven't ever tried them in the garden.

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I have 46 varieties going at present plus 12 varieties of herbs. I have more to go in later this month and more lettuce, spinach, kale, beets, arugula, radish and carrots for fall.

The satisfaction of the harvest and putting some up for the winter is why I do this. As well, I love working the ground and helping to bring something good out of it.

There are only two of us and my husband is not a fan of veggies - or wasn't. When I braised lettuce that was close to bolting last year, he was amazed at how delicious it was. He told me that beets were grown for the greens until I roasted them. Eggplants were for eggplant parmesan - until I roasted/grilled them and topped a pizza with them and then there was the eggplant gratin. The list goes on about what he thought was inedible until I cooked them in ways he hadn't eaten them. If only he would try asparagus.........

It is good to experiment and it is also good to learn/remember what your family will eat - and how often. Maybe ask them to help plan the garden next year and they will be more likely to eat what comes out of it. If they don't know what something is or looks like, give them a tour of the produce section at the grocery store or take them to the farmer's market or farm stand.

It really isn't your fault, you know. It's those catalogs that come in bundles from September until May. Remember how good all that stuff looked?

And, yes, I already have a list for next year - "it's addictive".

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My problem is that I'm a single gal and I always grow so much MORE than little me needs. Soooo kind of my eyes are bigger than my stomach sort of thing. Here I am struggling to eat all the lettuce that I've planted....and the snowpeas. I can keep up with the berries. We'll see with the summer garden. I do give stuff away, and make lots of friends that way, :D but still need to pace myself. :) Next year for lettuce I know I need to plant LESS - and plant more arugula because I honestly cannot eat enough arugula. But I waaaay over did the bibb.

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