Tuesday, March 10, 2009

May I have a purple carrot please?

I talked a little bit about gardening and some of you showed some interest. I love it because I can go outside and work with the garden, the kids can run around and play, and help a little. One of our favorite things is our veggie gardens. I say gardens because my yard isn't super conducive to a whole large plot of veggie garden but peas do great on my East side, the tomatoes go crazy in the strip garden next to the brick of the house and I am still trying to figure out what goes on the partially shaded West side.

Kids love vegetable gardens, or at least mine do, and this year we are going to plant some old favorites like peas, pumpkins and tomatoes but add some new things like purple carrots (scroll down a bit), white pumpkins, Cinderella pumpkins.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:


You don't need a large plot to have a garden, tomatoes and herbs are great grown in pots. But you do need good placement depending on what you want to grow. A good rule of thumb is that vegetables need 6 hours or more sun a day. So sun is necessary. And you need to research when you need to plant your veggies. Certain plants will thrive better at certain times of the year. Our peas are planted within the next two weeks so that they are finished producing in late June when it just gets too hot for them to thrive, but then we have already planted seeds in between them for a vegetable that will thrive in heat - like squash or pumpkin.

Soil Conditions

You will want to find out what kind of soil you are dealing with. Our soil is clay-based and very rocky so each year we supplement with compost and mulch. Vegetables grow better in rich, organic-y soil. If you want a little information, go here, but realize it doesn't have to be done all at once. We do a little amending each year, just working at it.


I found this great site that has tons of seeds, Whatcom Seed Company. Along the left side you see a drop down box for Zone Maps. This helps you know what zone you are in so that you can buy plants/seeds that can be grown well in your climate. It is always fun to experiment, but you will always do better to buy plants and vegetables that thrive in your area. You will want to do a little research on the net or in the library (they are a great resource for all types of gardening books, I always check them out there before I decide to buy one to keep at home). A great web resource in Better Homes and Gardens, they are great at suggestions for plants and gardening region by region and information on when the best time to plant is. I know that my in-laws down South are getting plants in the ground right now but I am looking out my front window and seeing snow swirling. Our rule of thumb up here is no tomatoes planted until Mother's Day. I'm sure there are green rules of thumb in your area too.

What do you want to eat and is it possible for you to grow it?

You don't want to plant things you don't want to eat. Tomatoes look pretty but will be wasted if you aren't going to eat them. The first year in our house I planted three zucchini plants. Those are so prolific that I was going out at midnight with bags of zuchs to leave on unsuspecting neighbors doorsteps. I decided that one plant is plenty and zero is fine because I get midnight dropoffs at my house of zucchinis. If you love eggplant, grow it. Radishes? Do it.
You want to make sure that you read the instructions on the seed or plant labels. You will be provided with things like planting depth, watering recommendations (veggies need consistent watering, but don't confuse this with over-watering), how far apart your rows should be. All this will factor in to your plant placement and how many different plants you can have growing at once.

What are some of our favorites? I'm repeating myself, but love sugar snap peas, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes (great for salsa), yellow tomatoes because they look so pretty in salads and salsas, pumpkins, tomatillos, and lots of herbs. My favorite thing to eat each day is tomato, mozzarella and basil - lots of basil, so I plant lots of it. Ooh, beans are fun too. One year I built a tee-pee like thing and planted the pole beans around it. I saw a great one that you grow big enough for the kids to play in, I'll keep looking for its link. I love fresh beans sauteed with butter, lemon and salt and pepper. This year we will do all these and try a few new ones too, like I said. Carrots will be one of them, I have never done that before, but purple might be lucky.


and don't forget our awesome giveaway, entries taken until Wendesday the 11th at 11:59pm MST.


Dove said...

Dude, I am soooo not a gardener, but I will gladly take all the excess tomatoes, carrots, zukes & whatever else that you can't eat.

I kinda think you're Martha right now.

Through the Looking Glass said...

Love all this info! We are planning on going at it hard this year: Husband is digging up a 15x12 plot of side yard that gets full sun all day and we're going to plant like mad people. I read Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable Miracle" and was inspired to start growing more of what we eat. She slaughters her own foul, however, and we aren't to that stage as yet. Purple carrots would be awesome and I'm a basil lover myself, so I'll get all your tips as I need them.

heather said...

I'll take any left over purple carrots... they look tasty.

Christy said...

Very interesting and inspiring. I hope you write more about planting veggies and herbs in pots. I'm not a fan of carrots myself, but I'd love to grow some purple ones to display!

suzan said...

I don't know how I missed this post... I LOVE to work and play in my yard, but most of my experience is with flowers. This will be my first year with a vegetable garden. Thanks for the tips and links I will definetly be coming back to this post for pointers when I need them! YAY for SPRING!!!