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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Garden Line up for 2011

What a wet and cold April this has been in the Chicago suburbs. Every day brings more saturation and the need to tote the umbrella every day to work. These April showers have left little, if any time to tend to the garden or even the yard. This delay has made me a bit ansy given my anxiety to get things going with my lawn and garden.  I have already put together my garden list for this spring/summer in anticipation of getting things moving very soon. The choices are similar to my prior year’s plantings, but changed things up a tad.
1.       Tomatoes – Tomatoes are my staple. I usually go with three types: Early Bird, Cherry, and Roma. These fruits I typically purchase at the nursery as seedlings, and plant mid May. I typically go with two early birds, three romas, and one cherry plant. Tomatoes, especially the cherry variety are coveted by my children and they produce consistently throughout the summer. The plums and early birds eventually fizzle out but not without providing me some essentials for bruchetta, pico de gallo, and just a good slice to go on the burger. With the proper canning equipment, one simply cannot have too many tomatoes. I will hold off a few weeks before getting these in the ground.
2.       Bell Peppers – I try to get these in also mid May and typically purchase about four plants. Bell peppers grow well in my Midwestern garden and seem to continually churn out fruits until mid tl late fall. I love fresh stuffed peppers and learned the past year that these veggies can actual be frozen after blanching or  sauté. This year I may add a jalepeno plant to go along side the bell pepper plants  (for my pico de gallo).
3.       Romaine Lettuce – I purchased these young seedlings late last May in 2010 and had a great three or four cuttings of fresh romaine for salads, burger toppers, and BLT’s. I went with romaine again as this vegetable does not need full sun and there is a perfect garden plot on the side of my shed that gets only five or six hours of sun at the most. That is all that is needed for this plant. I just purchased the seeds and will be starting the seedlings immediately. After three or four cuttings the lettuce begins to get a little bitter and it is time move away or consider staggering seedlings so they grow in stages. I am not sure I have enough real estate to go with staggered plantings. We will see.
4.       Pickling Cucumbers – Ah yes. The inner Czech in me loves pickled cucs and these were a favorite of my grandparents who ran a very large garden. A healthy harvest of tiny cucs, garlic, and dill, and one has the makings of some really delicious refrigerator cucs. I purchased these seeds this past weekend and will start the germination process (just like the romaine) this weekend. I will have to plant these in my larger garden that gets ample sun. I really hope these turn out. This is a new addition to my garden family this year.
5.       Sugar Pea Pods (or snow pea pods) – Another favorite of mine, especially when preparing salads or stir fry. I have never attempted to grow sugar snap pea pods, so this will be interesting. Even if I get a small harvest I will be impressed. This one is more experimental than anything.

Aside from veggies, I plan on going with large pot to grow herbs such as basil, dill and cilantro. Cilantro and dill are very hands on with respect to having to constantly trim them back to prevent the plant from going to seed. I love this time of year as I share this hobby with my kids so they understand that produce does not necessarily have to be obtained from a supermarket.

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