Green Tomatoes & Purple Carrots

Indian Corn_DBG-CO_LAH_9050Green beans. Orange carrots. Red tomatoes. How normal. How boring. One of the joys of growing your own veggies is that you can have some fun and mix up the colors. Beans come in yellow and purple as well as green. Carrots can be white, yellow, orange, or purple. Tomatoes come in green (such as Green Zebra), purple, orange, yellow, or even sporting saucy stripes. Even fresh corn on the cob (as opposed to the dried stuff) now comes in fun colors. Why settle for growing what you can easily find at the market, when so many other options are waiting?

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Yellow Green Beans

Some gardeners plant the same varieties year after year, depending on past performance to guarantee future success. Why mess with something that works? Others, myself included, like to try the latest cultivars. We’re always searching for that new and improved flower or vegetable that will make this year’s garden the best ever.

When several of my seed catalogs proudly featured a new pole bean, Monte Gusto, I was eager to try it out. How would it compare to my usual choice, Emerite? (Emerite is an awesome bean—long, straight, early, prolific, and delicious!)

Then I discovered that my favorite catalog had discontinued Emerite. How could they? Not wanting to order elsewhere (I’d have to pay shipping for a single seed packet), I ordered Fortex, a variety that has received rave reviews in past years.

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Snow-tolerant Veggies

Yes, it’s May. And yes, it’s still snowing. In fact, we had temperatures around 20 degrees, with snow, over the past few days. The prediction is for warmer weather, but in previous years we’ve had snow and lows below freezing well into June. Of course I’m anxious to get my garden growing—but what will survive our winter/spring weather? Surprisingly, quite a lot!

Kale
LAH_7318We were gone last fall, so I never got around to pulling out last summer’s freeze-killed veggies. It turns out that was a good thing. With no protection at all, my Starbor kale roots survived our Zone 4 winter, and new growth is appearing from a dead-looking stump. I expect the kale plants to bolt as soon as it warms up a bit more, but in the meantime, I’m harvesting kale now. I plan to include kale in my garden again this year, starting seeds inside and setting out plants in late June to mature in September and October, after frost sweetens the leaves. You can bet I’ll leave those plants in place next fall, maybe with a bit of mulch or a row cover, for yet another early harvest. Continue reading “Snow-tolerant Veggies”

Garden Advice: Companion Planting

carrots-tomatoes-401Do carrots really love tomatoes? Do beans and onions hate one another? The internet (and my bookshelf) is full of anecdotal advice about which crops we should plant together, and which ones we should not.

There’s a well-known book that’s been around for ages called Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening, by Louise Riotte. It offers page after page of “facts” about companion planting. That sounds really helpful, and I was ready to try it all, but unfortunately, when I dug in online, I discovered that there is very little science behind the advice.

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What to Grow?

Seed catalogs_LAH_2733January. The start of a new year. The start of a new garden. As I contemplate my empty veggie beds, I feel like a race car driver waiting at the starting line. “Gentlemen (gentlewomen?), start your engines!”

This year is truly new in another way. We moved last year, and I no longer have a my huge veggie garden. I used to have twelve, 4ˈ x 12ˈ beds, plus four 4ˈ x 4ˈ herb beds, plus a series of 2ˈ wide border beds around the entire area, ideal for pole beans, peas, and perennials (lovage, currants, berries, asparagus). Now I have two, 4ˈ x 10ˈ raised beds. Two. Well, we intended to downsize, right?

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Development-supported Agriculture?

I’ve mentioned Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) as an alternative to growing one’s own fruit and veggies. Well, the developer in this NPR story is taking the matter one step further:

If I have to live in a housing development, I would love to live one that has its very own farm. I could still have chickens and get dirt under my fingernails in a garden, yet not need to hire a house-sitter when we’re going to be away. It seems like the best of both worlds.

Having access to food grown in one’s very neighborhood is the ultimate in eating locally. I’m not sure how successful this would be in our neighborhood (at 7,000+ feet elevation), but it could certainly work in most of the country.

Who knows—maybe Pete and I will “retire” (hah!) to Ft. Collins. If so, this is the first place I’m going to look for our next house.