Well folks, after taking a hiatus from updates back in August last season following the death of our beloved dog, Dooley, I am ready to get the 2017 garden season underway! As several of you know, I've posted season-long updates of my container garden here in the Denver/Boulder area, zone 5b. If you're interested in seeing my previous threads, I have provided links below.
My 2015 Container Garden
| My 2016 Container Garden
We've had a very warm and dry start to 2017. February and March were 8º above normal overall and we hit 80º for the first time ever in February on the 10th. We hit 80º twice in March during a 9-day string of temps above 70º. We have yet to hit 80º so far in April, but the forecast calls for highs between 70º and 77º between now and April 18 with lows in the 40s. That is very warm for this area this time of year and is perfect weather for getting the spring garden planted.
With other commitments to family and friends in the coming months, I am pulling back some from my typical ambitious nature when it comes to the garden. I'll still be planting plenty of tomatoes and peppers, but I am foregoing melons, cucumbers, onions and eggplant this season. I will be adding plenty of herbs and a variety of pole/bush beans, though, because I want this to be a healthy season of canning and dehydrating. I use tons of canned tomatoes and look forward to getting more cases added to my extended pantry.
I just started my tomato seeds indoors two days ago because I want the seedlings to be shorter and stockier when I transplant. I usually start them in March and they get way too tall by the time I plant them and it's difficult to deal with 60 plants that are over a foot tall. I started several cells of Hahms Gelbe micro tomatoes that I saved seeds from last season at the beginning of the year. The fruit are now starting to ripen under my grow lights, so I am very excited about that.
I started my peppers on January 01, so they are well developed at this point. I have to remove buds and flowers daily from the 35 plants. I also have Soloist Chinese cabbage that has matured, though stayed much smaller indoors than it would've gotten outdoors. We have harvested one for stirfry and they are still delicious nonetheless. Basil is also doing well, as are a couple other varieties of micro tomatoes that aren't exactly micro (they're about a foot tall, maybe more). Not sure what happened there, but I feel I didn't get the correct seeds.
I don't intend to post my numbers week-by-week this season as I have in seasons past. I am still planning to track the numbers for personal use, though, because I am interested in how well certain plants perform. I like to focus on productivity because I can much of what I grow, so keeping tabs on numbers helps weed out the plants that don't produce well for me.
Below are the tomato varieties I have started seeds for this season. I have included next to the variety whether it's determinate or indeterminate. I can both determinates and indeterminates because many of the indeterminate beefsteaks are nothing but flesh with very little gel or seed locules - OUTSTANDING for canning, salsas, pico, everything. And they're generally more delicious than more determinates. What I do like about determinate varieties is that they hold up better during the cooking process because they are firmer and contain less moisture. Either way, I plan to have a good mix of each.
I have 10 Earthboxes dedicated to tomatoes, so each EB will house two tomato plants. Remaining plants will be planted either in whiskey barrels or gifted to neighbors and friends.
1. 1884 (Ind.) (Repeat - huge, delicious tomatoes on enormous plants)
2. Amos Coli (Det.)
3. Aker's West Virginia (Ind.)
4. Aussie (Ind.)
5. Big Zac (Ind.)
6. Boxcar Willie (Ind.)
7. Brandy Boy (Ind.)
8. Burcham's New Generation (Ind.)
9. Bush Early Girl (Det.) (Repeat - produces several waves of perfectly round 6oz tomatoes - amazing for sandwiches, but also good for salsas and pico)
10. Cream Sausage (Det.) (Repeat - beautiful light yellow color with mild flavor - not overly sweet, but a nice addition to fresh salads and pico)
11. Cuostralee (Ind.)
12. Dr. Wyche's Yellow (Ind.) (Repeat - very large yellow/orange fruits with the most incredible fruity sweet flavor - very juicy, but also fleshy - so tasty and unique)
13. Green Moldovan (Ind.)
14. Hartsack Yellow (Ind.)
15. Heatherington Pink (Ind.)
16. Krasnodar Titans (Det.) (Repeat - I am growing this variety again because the fruit keeps for weeks on the kitchen counter after harvest - a great "storage" tomato with long shelf life - very thick skin and dense flesh makes it almost perfect for pico or sauce - very little juice and fine flavor)
17. Paragon (Ind.)
18. Red Rocket (Det.)
19. Stump of the World (Ind.) (Repeat - always a staple and very reliable producer of large, amazing pink beefsteaks regardless of weather/growing conditions - one of the most delicious tomatoes I've ever grown)
20. Tatar of Mongolistan (Ind.)
21. Todd County Amish (Ind.)
22. Urbanite (Ind.)
23. Woodle Orange (Ind.)
24. Yaqui (Det.) (Repeat - an interesting variety that remind me a bit of the KT above - not quite as large and a little less dense, but a very good tomato with a heavy hitting crop later in the season, at least for me)
I am also growing the following peppers. My plan is to dehydrate those which I don't use so I can have a variety of both hot pepper flakes/powder and sweet pepper flakes/powder. I have frozen excess peppers in the past and I tend not to use them up before the next season. The only frozen peppers I reliably use are bells for stuffed peppers - everything else gets wasted. I don't generally enjoy the texture of peppers that have been frozen.
I have two Earthboxes dedicated to peppers, so each EB will house 6 pepper plants. I will plant remaining peppers either in whiskey barrels or they will be gifted to neighbors and friends.
1. Craig's Grande Jalapeno
4. Peach Habanero
2. Early Sunsation
3. Golden Marconi
4. Yum Yum Gold
I will be venturing back into growing beans again this season now that I don't have Dooley trying to tear them all apart. Varieties on the list are below, but I will probably dwindle this to 4-5.
I am growing beans in whiskey barrels and smaller rectangular containers. Beans do not require large growing spaces to produce well.
1. Asparagus Yardlong
2. Chinese Red Noodle
3. Dragon Tongue
4. Fordhook (Lima)
5. Golden Wax
6. Kentucky Wonder
I am only using 2 of my self-watering buckets this year due to a lack of time needed to get them prepped. I absolutely love
growing in them and will keep them for future seasons, but they do require some work in the spring to bring them back to life and I just don't have the time or inclination to do that this season. I am growing squash in both buckets, as I have tried them in barrels and in-ground and they just seem to do best for me in a more confined environment. Go figure.
1. Costata Romanesco
Lastly, my chives came back from last season and I started 3 varieties of lettuce, pak choy and white icicle radishes from seed outdoors back in mid-late February because of our ridiculously warm weather. Last evening, I harvested my first pak choy and radishes to add to a fresh salad - DELICIOUS! My hope is to keep lettuce and pak choy going all summer, either by utilizing the "cut and come again" method of harvesting the tops only or by succession planting. I'll see what works best for me as the season progresses. Of course, I will also have several herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, chives), as well as some random plantings of root veggies to include radishes, beets and carrots. I am foregoing bulb onions this season, but I will be planting the root ends of store-bought green onions soon. I will be dehydrating any herbs and green onions/chives that I don't use fresh.
Apologies for this very long post. It probably looks like just as big of a project this season as always, but it really isn't. I have far fewer plants under my lights than I normally do. I look forward to sharing my season with all of you and I hope you all enjoy the posts. Below are a few pics from the outdoor containers, as well as the plants under my basement grow lights.