January 5, 2015

Thinking Towards a 2015 Garden

This past year in 2014 I had to forgo a garden. Too many things going on. But next year I have plans within plans.

The main focus of the 2015 garden will be growing vegetables for making baby food.

I've decided to grow vegetables that are unavailable or expensive in this area. Popular squashes like butternut and acorn are available at $0.99 a piece in the fall, and winter greens like mustard, kale, cabbages, and bok choy are inexpensive. Even semi-popular root vegetables like carrot, turnip, and rutabaga are fairly inexpensive.

Surprisingly, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and garlic are expensive in this area of Kentucky. It gets hot here, so potatoes need to be planted early in February or March. But if a heat wave hits of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or more before potatoes have formed, then the potatoes may fail to produce or only produce minimal amounts.

Sweet potatoes on the other hand, love the long hot humid summers Kentucky is famous for. If you let your sweet potato vines ramble they may produce potatoes in odd spots depending on where they take root. I like to put a shovel full of soil here and there along the vines to encourage extra root formation, which makes the plants stronger even if they don't  produce sweet potatoes in those spots. They also make a nice living mulch under pepper and tomato plants, although I wouldn't grow them in the same beds because that could reduce yields as they compete for nutrients, but instead I sometimes let the vines ramble into neighboring beds.

So for the coming 2015 year the plan is potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, lima beans, Pink Eye Purple Hull peas, zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, winter melon, bitter melon, angled and smooth loofa, bunching green onion, Chinese chive, leek, kohlrabi, sprouting broccoli or gai lan, bulb fennel, and spinach. There will be just a few tomatoes and peppers for fresh eating, nothing like previous years since I won't be canning salsa. And a few eggplants since they did so well in 2013, after I figured out how to get rid of flea beetles with the use of diatomaceous earth.

I found seeds for bitter melon that are supposedly barely bitter which will hopefully be a good way to introduce it to uninitiated family members. Mmmm, bitter melon stuffed with ground pork, mushrooms, and cellophane noodles.

I have to tell you. I found a vegetable that is utterly delicious. Angled loofa simply prepared by stir frying with garlic and then seasoned with just salt and pepper, it is just so flavorful it's indescribably delectable. The juiciness with a beautiful dense texture that is also tender, just everything about it is perfect. Most people prepare the angled luffa by peeling just the ridged edges off which leaves thin ribbons of skin and supposedly gives it a bit of a crunch, but the first time I prepared it from fruits my father brought with him from Virginia I had peeled all the skin. It was still scrumptious.