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Dreaming of spring veggies and making big backyard changes.

Haven’t been doing much with plants this winter, but I have been painting them – at left is the painting I gave my mother for Hanukkah/Christmas.

I am really looking forward to spring! It is a ways off yet, but I have big plans for January and February and then will be starting some veggie seedlings as early as March.

What’s in store? We are building a retaining wall to add in a large raised bed against the back fence – it is going to be enough space for several espaliered fruit trees and lots of vegetables.

This weekend was an online-ordering frenzy after I saw some of the trees that I wanted becoming sold out on several sites. For the front yard I have purchased these additional trees:

Woohooo! I would have purchased these front yard fruit trees last year, but with all the trees I was already ordering it was way too much money. This year it was also a lot of money (ouch, my wallet!), but I decided it was time to finish off the front yard investment and get these trees in this year. The sooner they are in then the sooner they will be producing fruit! Once these trees are in then I’ll be able to make some headway on planning and installing some kind of drip irrigation system for the entire front yard.

I am also dreaming of planting tons of new vegetables this year. I’ll be re-using many seeds from last year (same spinach, onions, leeks, chard, eggplant, beets, peas, bok choy, and salad greens). I am also getting a ton of new seeds to expand the variety that I am growing, and to try out some tasty new varieties.

Last year my carrots were pretty, but lack-luster in flavor (I got a kaleidoscope carrot mix) – this year I am focusing on flavor and getting one called Sugarsnax Carrot.

I didn’t try growing any corn last year, but my parents raved about an amazing new triplesweet hybrid corn Honey Select that they tried, so this year I am going to give it a try as well by growing it in a single row along my back fence.

My tomatoes last year were delicious, but reading through the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog left me with no choice but to buy some additional varieties, since they all sound so darn amazing. The two I selected were Black Cherry Tomato and Delicious. Really it was the glowing customer reviews that sold me on these two particular varieties. I hope they are tasty!

Some other items I am particularly excited to try are several items in the cucurbit family. I have never grown any melon varieties before (growing up in Washington, the season there is much too short to even attempt), but now that I live in California I am going to try Vedrantais Melon – doesn’t the description sound great?

For cucumbers I was thrilled to find a powdery mildew resistant variety called Picklebush. In the bay area you are basically guaranteed that your squash plants will be in a constant and eventually-fatal battle with powdery mildew, and I had read in the Golden Gate Gardening book that there were some great resistant winter squash varieties available. I had a really hard time finding any for sale! I read through this powdery mildew resistant winter squash trial research project before deciding what to buy, but then I kept looking up each resistant kind at my regular seed sites and none were available. :-(

Finally I found a random vendor (who I have never heard of – I hope they are legit!) and bought the Bugle Butternut Winter Squash. I have high hopes that the resistant varieties will fare much better in my garden.

Now that all of the seed and tree buying excitement is out of the way, it is time for me to buckle down and finish building out this retaining wall and then make a drip irrigation map to plan out how I am going to do drip irrigation in the front and back yard. I’ll hopefully post about that soon with some diagrams. So complicated!

To the left is a photo of a quick set-up of the stones to test and see how they would look in place (then we took them down and did the actual careful leveling and are in-process on installation…)


7 comments to Dreaming of spring veggies and making big backyard changes.

  • Libby

    Love your fun, interesting and happy blog. We haven’t grown Honey Select yet, but we bought it from Mr. Campbell near Freddies last summer and loved it, he says it was super the year before also, incredibly delicious variety, these triplesweets, and I just read on two sites that you CAN grow other types, SE and SH2’s near it, no isolation required! I plan to buy this and probably two other triplesweet varieties this year, one that is earler would be good. Rave reviews online, AAS award winning variety.

  • Susie

    Now I know where we’ll be going to veggies and melons this summer. The Black cherry toms and the Italian melon sound every so tasty!

  • Carrie

    Sounds awesome!!! You are much more organized than I. I tried growing corn last summer, even with the crazy wet spring and late summer it was ok. You know you will have to hand pollinate, right? I really want to grow melons and peppers and hot weather stuff, sigh. And powdery mildew sucks. It got soooo many of my plants, and I put on so much organic, kid and pet safe stuff, but it just didn’t help. Sigh again. So excited for this year, and to hear about all your progress!!

    • Kristin

      Carrie – Yes, thanks for the tip on hand-pollinating the corn, that will definitely be important! Also, I should have the veggie seeds by the time you guys visit, so if you want some of the seeds for the powdery-mildew-resistant cucumbers and butternut squash then you should definitely take some of mine. :-)

  • Hi Kristin,

    Love your blog! I work (and blog) for Habitat Design, and want to invite you to an event we’re hosting. It’s called “Building Communities through Social Media: A Panel Discussion” and I know you’re into social media so it would be AWESOME if you joined us. It’s on Feb 23rd in Palo Alto. You can get more info & RSVP here: http://is.gd/010hW5

    Thanks and hope you can make it!