5th Year Veggies

A few weeks ago a gardening buddy of mine who solely grows flowers stated that growing vegetables is boring. Oh, I disagree wholeheartedly! The variety, even the flowers and beautiful crops, and especially the promise of great eats to come make growing veggies one of my favorite things.

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It’s hard to believe this is already my 5th year growing vegetables at Coppertop. Each year I’ve rotated crops in raised beds and the small fields. Each year has had its setbacks from voles to rotting potatoes. Each year has had many successes from bountiful broccoli to my first ever pumpkins. I would like to think I’m getting wiser each year with selecting and growing, but mistakes remain a big part of learning. The timed drip system installed last year keeps all hydrated and happy. Our Pacific Northwest summers are dry, and our first frost date is mid-November.

This year I’m growing tons of flavor. I decided to dedicate four beds to flavor and have two types of garlic (Duganski and German Red) , three long-day onion varieties (Walla Walla, Copra, and Red Zeppelin) and a whole bed of Giant Musselburgh leeks which I intend to keep as a permanent, perennial leek bed. So far the only issue I’ve had is rotting of some onion seedlings when I planted too early and the soil was way too cold and wet. It’s a mistake I’m embarrassed to admit I make repeatedly in my overenthusiasm.

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Now in early June, the asparagus, spinach, lettuce, and young watermelon radish beds are the only ones I’ve harvested from.

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Oh, and of course I’ve eaten a few crunchy pea pods while standing by the pea trellis. I’m relieved the peas are a success this year after having a couple of bummer years with peas. Varieties this year are Tall Telephone and Alaska. Also trellised, the beans are slow to take off in our very cool spring. Varieties are Scarlet Runner and Purple Podded Pole.

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Since we eat an amazing amount of broccoli during the year from the freezer, I have almost two full beds of it this year. Some years the broccoli has been superb; others, it’s been a flop crop with underdeveloped heads. There’s nothing wrong with broccolini or sprouting broccoli, but it’s disappointing when unexpected! I’m now pretty dedicated to two varieties which produce well here for me:  Waltham 29 and Packman.

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Another crop we eat throughout the year is kale, which I freeze in various portion sizes to add to soups and stews. One field this year is all Red Russian and Blue Curled Scotch kale seedlings, with a side of Baby Boo pumpkins soon to be planted. The other small field contains cucurbit hills this year, from cucumbers to zucchini, with lots of other squashes included. I’ve yet to grow winter squash.

cucurbits

I’ve learned to protect very young cabbages with pieces of stocking/nylons/hosiery which expand as the cabbages expand. Cabbages become salads, slaw, and sauerkraut, carrots get stored in sand in the basement, and beets get eaten or pickled. I’ve also learned to leave space in beds or even entire empty beds for later sowings and transplants. Those spots will probably hold cauliflower and more lettuce before long. I’m skipping Brussels sprouts this year because they’re such a magnet for cabbage worms.

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Today’s project is the re-weeding of an 8×3′ very weedy corner patch of the veggie garden, then covering with black landscape fabric. I’ll cut holes in the fabric and plant corn seedlings. The variety I started from seed is Yukon Chief. We’ll see if the black provides enough heat for this iffy crop in out northern climate. Last year’s corn was short and inedible to us, but the chickens loved it!

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12 thoughts on “5th Year Veggies

  1. Your enthusiasm is contagious. I wish I had a space like this to grow veggies. It sounds like you are figuring out what grows best for you. All I have planted are a couple of tomatoes, some bell peppers and chives. I was thinking I should plant some basil to go with the tomatoes. Reading your plant list is making me hungry.

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    • Maybe you’ll add some each year? Adding new things slowly can be a simple plan to keep from getting overwhelmed. Tomatoes and peppers are grown in my greenhouse because they need the extra heat boost. I’m jealous if you easily grow big, juicy ones! Chives are easy and pretty, too. Yes, basil is a great choice since during the summer it’s a part of so many recipes.

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  2. I am green with envy! You seem to be getting a bit more precipitation than we are up here in Vancouver – it rained only 3 days in May, and so far you could count the number of drops that have come down when they promised rain or showers this first week in June. By the way, I see that your pea and bean trellises are not very tall – don’t you have the problem that beans will keep growing and then get tangled up above the trellis? I have a bean trellis that must be 7 feet tall, and they still keep growing skywards.

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    • May rain was scarce here, too. Let’s hope for a wetter June. The trellises range from 5-6 feet tall and the plants just travel along the top when they reach it. It hasn’t presented a problem. Good to hear from you, Sabine!

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    • The majority of the layout was initiated by previous owners, thankfully. I do enjoy entering the season feeling organized. Generally, things proceed more smoothly if I have my ducks, or veggies, in a row! 😉

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  3. As a horticulturist who works with many different kinds of horticulturists, I find it amusing to see what my colleagues enjoy doing, and what they would not be bothered with. Arborists tend to think that they are ‘all that’, which they are in their own particular discipline; but nurserymen disagree. Cut flower grows are too busy to give any though to such trivialities. Landscape designers are the artists who are not concerned where their material comes from. It is like Star Trek.

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    • Guess we could say “To each, his or her own.” I love a bit of everything. As you’ve stated, gardening passion takes many forms, and as long as there’s growing involved, I’m into it all! I do appreciate the experts in each field and admire them as resources. Did you know the actual phrase goes: “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” Hahaha. 🙂

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