How we are planning our raised bed garden this year and what seeds we are starting. What foods we are hoping to grow and process so we can stop buying them in the store
Now that the greenhouse is up and ready, it is time to plan my raised bed garden and start my seeds. I may have gone a little bit over board with buying seeds this year. You can’t really blame me, there are so many awesome foods that I want to grow. Come on, how often do you see blue tomatoes? I just couldn’t help myself!
We grow our gardens in raised beds. I am not a big fan of an inground garden, I can never get control of the weeds. This past year, we had our first summer in our new house. I had my husband build me 3 raised garden beds to try out. I love them! After building mine he was able to make and sell around 30 to various people in our area. I am so glad so many others were able to start their raised bed gardens because of this.
This past November we welcomed our 7th little miracle baby, Finnegan Lewis, so we had to really think about how we were going to provide enough homegrown food for us. I just really didn’t see three 3*6 garden beds cutting it. After a lot of discussion, measuring, rethinking, and discussing again, we decided to at least add 9 more full 3*6 garden beds. I am also wanting 4 smaller 3*3 beds for the bigger kids to grow their own veggies in.
I have found that using the square foot gardening method seems to work best for our small intown lot. As long as I remember to prune my plants and stake them up. The only real issue I had last year was my inability to find canning lids, so I wasn’t able to preserve much of my harvest. This year I have planned ahead!
So many Tomatoes in So Many Raised Beds
When the snow was still covering the ground, and maybe even before hand, I started to plan my garden. This past year we planted 12 Amish paste tomatoes, and I quickly discovered it was not nearly enough for us. With the addition of the extra 9 or so garden beds, I am hoping to plant a minimum for 4 beds with Amish paste tomatoes. With 12 plants per bed I am hoping to get around 48 plants producing for us. Many of the items I process are tomato based, so these will be put to good use.
Any slicer and cherry tomatoes are for fun. I will probably process some of them if I have too many to eat. Many will just be eaten fresh and shared with the neighbors. We have a dehydrator and I will dry some of my cherry tomatoes for snacking or to use as “sun dried”. We will probably plant 2-4 of each variety. I was able to purchase Blue Beauty, Dr. Wyche’s, and Black Beauty tomato seeds to grow as my slicing tomatoes. For my smaller “cherry” sized tomatoes I purchased Brad’s Atomic Grape, Isis Candy Cherry, and Blue Cream Berries. All together that gives me 12-24 plants or around 1-2 raised garden beds.
Sweet and Spicy Peppers
We really enjoy eating fresh peppers. We also use them in several canning recipes so I want to make sure I grow plenty of them. Using the square foot gardening method I am able to plant around 18 per bed. I am wanting 1-2 beds of sweet peppers. I know some will say this is too close together. However, with proper pruning and care we have been able to plant this close with no issues. We are not in a very humid climate and we amend our soil so we havn’t had any issues. I got online and purchased Bull Nose, Yolo Wonder, Zulu, and Jimmy Nardello.
We don’t generally eat many hot peppers fresh. I am personally not a fan of super hot foods so they will mostly be used for preserving. For hot peppers we purchased Craig’s Grande Jalapeno, Poblano, Hungarian Yellow Wax, Sugar Rush Red, and Sugar Rush Peach. Of all of those we will mostly use the Jalapenos. So I am hoping to plant one entire bed (18 plants) of jalapenos. The others will fill 1 garden bed, so approximately 18 total of the other hot peppers. My oldest son, Cameron, is a big fan of spicy peppers so he wants to plant a few of each in his 9 square garden bed.
Squash and Melons, but not in the raised beds
For our squash I don’t think I will be planting them in my raised bed. They take up so much garden space, and I just dont know how much I am willing to give up. We are having a fence installed this year. I think I am going to plant them in grow bags next the fence. The Plants that vine excessively can grow up the fence. I don’t see the point in buying a trellis or letting them take over my yard when I have a permanent “trellis” already.
We really love decorating for fall, so I wanted to make sure I got pumpkins this year. We got normal Jack O’lantern for carving. I had to have a pumpkin to make pie and rolls with, so we got New England Sugar Pie for eating and freezing. And because I can’t have normal orange pumpkins I got Jarrahdale pumpkin seeds. These are a beautiful pale blue with a bright orange flesh. The twins are super excited about these!
Zucchini and summer squash are not our favorite foods so we just got 3 different types of seeds. We will probably only plant 2 of each of these. Our varieties are Crookneck Summer squash, Golden Zucchini, and a Scallop Yellow bush. We will grill or sauté these fresh and I will slice them thin and dehydrate. The dehydrated ones will be thrown into soups and stews throughout the winter.
For melons we only got two different types of watermelon. The kids picked out Tendersweet Orange and Dixie Queen watermelons. These will be eaten fresh and I am sure no matter how many we get we will go through them. I plan on planting 2 of each type of watermelon.
Cucumbers and Beans
Cucumbers are something we do enjoy fresh quite often. The big kids are known to each eat half of one with dinner every night. The twins also love pickles. According to Cameron “The pickle makes the burger”. So we try to always keep plenty of pickles in stock. I was able to get ahold of seeds for Straight 8 slicers and Wisconsin Pickling cucumbers. We regularly watch Roots and Refuge on Youtube and Jess introduced me to Arminian Yard Long cucumbers and Mexican Sour Gherkins (also called cucamelons). I was very interested in those so I made sure I bought seeds for those.
Green beans are a regular addition to our dinner plates. With a family of our size we will use 3-4 cans of store bought with each meal. That means this mama needs to get dozens of quarts in my pantry. Bakers Creek Seed company had some amazing looking purple green beans that Gage just had to have, so of course we will be growing those. I also found Chinese Noodle Beans (recommended from Roots and Refuge) so we will give those a shot this year as well. I also got just my normal Roma beans to make sure we had some that we would enjoy.
Both our Cucumbers and beans will be in raised beds. I am planning on using cattle panels to make arched trellises between the raised beds. I am not exactly sure how many of each I will be planting just yet, as I am not 100% sure how many cattle panels I will be buying.
Root Vegetables in
Nothing makes Olivia happier in the spring and early summer than picking and eating fresh radishes and carrots. Last year I just planted them in some big flower pots I wasn’t using. This year I had a better idea. What if I used the plastic storage totes I use to store the kids hand-me-downs? They are nice and deep so they should work well for carrots, I can fill them with a lose mixture of soil so they are easier to pull. They might not be the most attractive planting vessels, however they are cheap and will be on my back porch mostly out of view. I am always up to try something new, so those will be my raised beds for my roots. My only issue so far is keeping almost 2 year old triplets out of them.
There are so many different types of radishes. I had no idea how many there were! I wanted to buy them all, alas I was able to contain myself stuck to 3 different types. China Rose, Purple Plum, and Watermelon radishes were my final choices. The Purple Plum has such a beautiful purple skin and white flesh that I had to try it. The Watermelon Radish on the other hand has white skin and gorgeus pink flesh, not something I had ever seen before so again, I just had to give it a shot.
Rutabagas and beets are not something that either my husband or I have really tried to eat. I honestly have no idea what either of them taste like. What is the worst that can happen, we don’t eat them? Well I have neighbors, family, and a compost bin that will gladly take them off my hands.
Carrots are my husband and the triplets favorite veggies. I, personally, am not a fan of them, but if the kids will eat it, I will too. I tried growing rainbow carrots last year in our raised beds but the soil was just too hard. We were only able to harvest one white one and was disappointed by its size. The carrots I planted in the flower pots with nice loose potting soil did amazing, but they were not fun colors. This year I got St. Valery, Black Nebula (purple), and cosmic purple. Watching the kiddos pick a dark purple carrot should be exciting.
Berries on a fence? Berries in a raised bed?
As we get our new fence installed in our backyard we have come to a realization, there will be a gap between ours and the neighbors. We would have been perfectly happy just connecting to their fence if we were going with the same style, but we weren’t. the fences would have butted up against each other if their weren’t gas lines running down our property line. So now we have a to figure out why we will be doing with a 1 1/2 to 2 foot gap. We plan on multching it in, but I dont want the dead space.
Thornless berry bushes, maybe? This one is not set in stone, and is only something we talked about briefly. I have been wanting to find a place to plant a few blackberry and raspberry plants that wouldnt be in the way. this seems like it will super not be in the way. My only problem with this is how will I trim them? If i am not mistaken you are supposed to cut them down every year, or maybe it is every few years. My butt isnt going to be able to manuvor in that small gap, and i dont trust the 10 year olds with things so sharp yet. Any thoughts on that?
On the front of our house we have a raised bed that is made of brick. It is build into the porch. I assume that the previous owners planted flowers in it. I love flowers but I wanted to be able to get the most out of my space. Last year i bought 12 strawberry plants and put them in there. We didn’t get too many last year, however they are already flowering and looking amazing for this year. Hopefully we get a decent little harvest off of our small berry patch.
Greens in a Greenstalk
This year I was able to get my hands on a Greenstalk planter. I had trouble deciding what exactly I was going to grow in it though. At the same time I was having trouble deciding where to plan my greens. Then, like a light bulb moment it clicked, I never said I was bright here. So I have planted my greens in my Greenstalk. It is still a few weeks away from our last frost, but they say they do well in cool weather so I am giving it a shot.
I have planted Paris Island Cos Romaine, Bibb Butterhead, Red Romaine, and Rouge D’Hiver lettuce in it. We are not 100% sure on how well they will grow in the smaller holes but you never know until you try it. I have heard so many amazing reviews from people using it as for their greens. Now I can’t say how many will grow, or even if what I planted it still in the same spots. I had some serious helpers that sure enjoyed their work.
Kale, oh kale. I do not know where the kale is going. I don’t even like it. Most of the kids don’t like it. So far Magnus is the only one who enjoys it. I am assuming I will put a few plants at the ends of a raised bed or two so he can free range on it. I have no idea how to cook it, what to serve it with, anything. Do I make a kale salad? I know it can go in smoothies but I am lazy and always forget to make them.
What are you planting this year? I have a few things I am not a fan of, but the kids or hubby is. Do you have anything you really dont enjoy but plant it for the family?
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