February always gets me itching to get out in the garden. The weather is teasing us with a warm day here and there and spring is just around the corner. It is time to start planning this year’s garden.
Our garden is always changing depending on our eating habits and plans. For example, I have learned through the years that although Boone and I both like corn we do not eat it very often so we have cut back on how much we grow. He loves okra but I do not care for it and since he just wants it once in a blue moon we do not plant it anymore. When deciding what to plant I try to imagine what recipe I am planting it for. There were years that we planted anything and everything and ended up with tons of eggplant that neither of us really liked (they did look great in the garden though), and bushels of excess green beans that went to the cows when even our non-gardening friends were sick of them.
You plant and learn.
For our 2018 garden, so far I am thinking we will plant:
- Bell peppers (red, green, yellow) – I really go through a lot of bell peppers so I freeze bags and bags of them. I also use them for refrigerator-pickled peppers. My guys love them on sandwiches and they also make a great substitute for pimientos in homemade pimiento cheese.
- Cantaloupes – Boone’s favorite.
- Collards – for Christmas Day Collards. I cook big pots of them and then freeze.
- Corn (about 5 rows of the Kandy Korn variety) – for freezing on and off the cob. Eating an ear of sweet garden corn in the dead of winter is a real treat.
- Cucumbers (the burpless varieties) – for fresh eating plus freezer pickles and pickle relish.
- Green beans – I like the varieties that are purple on the vine but turn green when cooked. The grandkids get a kick out of picking them.
- Honeydew – love them.
- Onions – sweet onions
- Pumpkins – pie pumpkins. We scratch the grandkids names on the pumpkin when it is about softball size. As the pumpkin grows so does the name. It so fun for them to go out into the pumpkin patch and hunt for their very own pumpkin.
- Radishes – just cause they are so pretty in a salad.
- Red Potatoes
- Sweet Potatoes – always the Beauregard variety.
- Tomatoes (slicing, cherries, a few new varieties each year to try) – I use a lot of tomatoes! During the summer, we go through them like crazy. It is hard to beat a sun-ripened tomato on Buttermilk Bread with Dukes mayo. I also freeze bags of whole tomatoes and make lots of batches of marina sauce, roasted tomatoes and pizza sauce for the freezer.
- Watermelon (always Crimson Sweet variety)
- Yellow Squash – frozen for casseroles, quiche, and soups.
- Early spring plantings such as lettuce, peas and spinach – we only plant enough for fresh eating.
My gardening to-do-list is getting longer:
Clean the greenhouse, get pots and trays out of garden shed
- Finish pruning the fruit orchard
- Clean out the blackberries and blueberries
- Need to move the old grapevine to sunnier location
- Drill holes in old rusty stock water tanks to turn into a strawberry planter
- Start some plants in the greenhouse It is currently a calf nursery!