FloraQuest 2011: If We Cantelope, Lettuce Marry!

It is the first of March!

Gardening season is upon us!

Even though the ground is still frozen, the days are growing longer and warmer. I have gotten all of my seed orders in from Territorial Seed Co. and Johnny's Select Seeds. My seed potatoes come from Ronniger's Potato Farm. I have rounded out my seed selections with Burpee Seed at the local hardware store because Burpee's website SUUUCKS! It is so SLOOOOW!

In the past few years, I have found equal if not greater success buying many of my plants live instead of from seed. I purchase those plants in nearby Elgin from Klein's Garden and Farm Stand.

The average last frost date for the Chicago area is April 30th. But I am going to plant my early spring crops as soon as the earth is thawed and dry enough to Roto-Till.

Speaking of Rototillers, my huge and ancient Craftsman 8HP tiller has died last year. It has a new carburetor but I cannot keep it from dying when it gets hot. Oh, well. It is an unwieldy front tined monster anyhow. Looks like I will be renting.

My Asparagus beds are three years old now and I expect a heavy crop of delicious asparagus this spring.

After tilling and planting I will be vigorously weeding clear up until June because I DONT USE MULCH! I found out a few years ago that mulch harbors destructive pests!

Last year I did have problems with cucumber beetles and will attempt to keep them in check with organic insecticidal soap with Neem Oil. I rotate my crops every year to combat disease and pests, but cucumber beetles fly around a lot.

I have 1440 square feet of garden. 24' x 60' surrounded by a four foot tall fence strung with chicken wire. It also has eight foot trellises for cucumbers and pole beans to climb on. I allow for 12" wide footpaths and a four foot perimeter inside the fence for crops that like to climb on or ramble along the chicken wire.

Here is what the garden will look like this year!

2011 Spring - Summer

------14'x2'------ -----9'x2'----- -----9'x2'----- -----9'x2'----- -----9'x2'-----
Burpeeana Early Sweet Peas Burpeeana Early Sweet Peas Fortex Beans Big Mama Lima Pole Beans
Asparagus Bed German Butterball Potato Musclun mix / Simson Elite Lettuce Cabbages {K} Red Burgundy Okra
Asparagus Bed Russet Potato Burpee Bibb Lettuce Cauliflower {K} Clemson Spineless Okra {B}
Kandy Korn Sweet Corn French Fingerling potato Walla Walla Onions Broccoli {K} Detroit Dark Red Beet
Kandy Korn Sweet Corn Banana Fingerling potato Walla Walla Onions Broccoli {K} Nantes Half Long Carrot
Quickie Sweet Corn Yukon Gold Potato Garlic {K} Zamboni Broccoli Raab Harmony Hybrid Spinach / Avon Hybrid Spinach
Quickie Sweet Corn Japanese Eggplant {K} Basil /Cilantro {B} Roma Tomatoes Bloomsdale Long-Standing Spinach
Delicata Winter Squash {K} Better Boy Tomatoes {K} Sweet Cherry Tomatoes {K} Marketmore 97 Cucumbers zucchini / summer squash {K}
{B} from Burpee Seed Company. {K} as live plants from Klein's Farm Stand. NORTH is the BOTTOM of the table.

Along the western side of the fence I will grow Savor Charentais Melons and allow plenty of room for the Zukes and Summer Squash to grow along the fence in the south-west.

The Delicata Winter Squash I will allow to ramble northward on the eastern side of fence.

2011 SUMMER - FALL

By July all of the tender spring greens will have been harvested allowing plenty of room for the heat loving crops to thrive along the outer perimeters and, in the case for climbing plants, along the chicken wire of the fence.

After the Sweet Corn has been harvested I will sow the Fava Beans for a fall crop. This will be my first attempt at growing Fava Beans (Broad Beans to those across the pond) I am hoping that, as a nitrogen fixing legume, the beans will be a success and I can maintain a Corn / Bean in-year rotation on these 14' rows for years to come.

I also am going to plant three varieties of Brussels Sprouts for a fall crop. Brussels Sprouts require a long growing season. They are also the last crop to be harvested. They are very cold hardy and taste delicious after a good frost.

------14'x2'------ -----9'x2'----- -----9'x2'----- -----9'x2'----- -----9'x2'-----
Fortex Beans Big Mama Lima Pole Beans
Asparagus Bed Red Burgundy Okra
Asparagus Bed Clemson Okra
Negreta Fava Bean Franklin Brussels Sprouts Savor Charentais Melons
Negreta Fava Bean Rubine Brussels Sprouts Savor Charentais Melons
Broad Windsor Fava Bean Roodnerf Brussels Sprouts Savor Charentais Melons
Broad Windsor Fava Bean Japanese Eggplant Basil /Cilantro Sweet Potato zucchini / summer squash
Delicata Winter Squash Better Boy Tomatoes Sweet Cherry Tomatoes Marketmore 97 Cucumbers zucchini / summer squash

Keep your eyes out for many Gardening Logs to come!

Thanks to The Custodian and Misterfuffie for the links to HTML formatting!

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