February is promising to be a month of fickle weather. Last weekend, was jacket-weather so we did some vine trimming along a fence line. We are heading into another Arctic blast now, though, with probable snow later today. That means the rest of the Winter trimming will have to wait.
We are in the process of dropping a very large deciduous tree that is only 10 feet from the house. I transplanted that tree from the woods 25 years ago and now it’s a threatening behemoth so it must go. We devised a plan and are cutting the large top branches first. Two of the branches overhang the house roof but being diehard do-it-yourself types, we have teamed up with reliable roping, webbing, a come-along, and the tractor to pull the branches as we cut.
Once the tree has been dropped, it won’t be long before it’s time to trim the shrubbery in the front and trim some of the fruit trees. Until we can do the trimming, I have a greenhouse that needs to be cleaned and prepped for my late-Winter seed-sowing.
The 2015 Seed List was just posted this morning and it includes new seeds as well as many of the saved seeds we have. Our seeds have come from seed companies, family members, seed trades, and friends nearby and from afar. We keep viable seeds for the vegetables, herbs, and flowers we like to grow. We also retain some seeds from veggies we may choose not to grow. In all, there are now 5 boxes of viable seed packets and envelopes in our seed collection.
We purchased some new open-pollinated seed to try this year: 12 veggie varieties and 6 flower varieties. Here are the new seeds by category:
- Beet: Lutz Salad Leaf Beet, Cylindra
- Carrot: Muscade
- Cucumber: Muncher
- Eggplant: Fengyuan Purple, Ping Tung
- Leek: Autumn Giant
- Lettuce: Chatwick’s Rodan, Big Boston
- Pea: Carouby De Maussane Snow Pea
- Peppers: Etuida, Lemon Drop (mild hot)
- Flowers: Red Cherry Marigold, Italian White Sunflower, Crimson Queen Sunflower, Rustic Color Mix Rudbeckia, Arika Sunflower, Cupcake Mix Zinnia
Last year was fantastic for sweet peppers and some other veggies. Our tomatoes were late to arrive but when they did, we had buckets filled with tomatoes to eat and can for sauces. But our tomato plants were as ugly as can be — the leaves on most tomato plants turned brown so we figured that we may have a virus. We have cleared all garden debris out and then burned the debris. We will spray our tomato cages with a bleach and water solution this Spring, too. We are erring on the side of caution and are not planting any tomato or potato crops in our gardens this year — it’s hard to imagine this! We are planning to dig 5 new spots in a different area for just 5 tomato plants, though — hoping to have homegrown, fresh tomatoes while trying to allow our soil to heal from a possible virus or fungus. We are only growing our favorite slicers and cherry tomatoes this year and since we have an ample supply of home-canned tomato sauces, we will have enough to get us through another year.
Our plans for homegrown potatoes will take us on a new adventure this year because we have planned to keep potatoes out of the gardens, too. Potatoes and tomatoes are from the nightshade genus, Solanum, so both will be planted outside of our garden areas.
This year, our potatoes will be grown in containers and we will “hill” the plants as they grow. We plan to use some spare buckets and a few of our spare garbage containers, maybe an old 55-gallon plastic rain barrel, too. We are only growing 25 pounds of potato this year so we are hoping for a decent yield.
Without the potatoes and tomatoes in the garden areas, we are planning to grow several plantings of corn plus more melons and Winter squash. And, of course, the standard variety of all other delicious veggies we have seeds for.
Hopefully, in a few months, the greenhouse will be greening up, filled with plants, hope, and activities. I must have early Spring Fever — do you have Spring Fever yet?