The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making

What’s the Plan Mojo?

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I say Mojo because that is my golden doodle’s name. Stanley (aka What’s the Plan Stan – the Man), was my golden retriever’s name who sadly passed on at a very young age. Mojo is a bustling burst of energy and more than fills my broken heart. heartbreakers

But what is the plan? Each year – this year is no different even if I am in migration – I sketch out my plan for the Potager: what will I plant and where? I like to companion plant and I like to rotate my plant families so it does involve a bit of planning (see previous years here, here and here) (I can’t find 2014! I must have really suffered from brain freeze last Winter). I am dreaming of Spring (with a much better attitude than previous years as I have not endured this terribly cold and snow crested winter in the Great White North). Each year I reevaluate what I will grow … What do I really enjoy harvesting? What didn’t do well? What did really well? What did I wish I grew more of? What can’t I live without? And what will I try new? This year isn’t any different even if I cannot trudge out in the snow and get a view of the land so to speak. I do usually go through all my seeds as well but I left those in our shop set at 50°F. But I didn’t leave behind my garden sketchbook because I love to sketch out my plans during the winter time. So, here it is …

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(I think you can click on the photo to view in Flickr where you may be able to zoom in.) I’m not the neatest “sketcherer.” This year the rustic obelisks have been retired and some wire panels will be erected in their place – not as pretty – much more utilitarian, but I came across a vegetable garden last summer that used this technique and had to try it. (Something new!) I am feeling a need for more order in my garden as it grows wildly and mostly abandoned. So, cherry tomatoes (the new staple Sun Gold as of last year from Johnny’s, and a new try, Black Cherry from Bakers) and squash, Zephyr from Johnny’s, and a new try, Ronde di Nice Zucchini from Renee’s, will be trained up the wire panels.

I have paired down – if you can believe it – from years past. I really love my kales, chards and basils and I am making more room for them so I can grow more. I had to really restrain myself from ordering Johnny’s Kalettes. (Especially since I found a bag of kalettes at Trader Joe’s in Gainesville and made them into kale chips – oh my!) I am tempted, but I really prefer just lots of kale, and I am remembering the stalks of Brussel Sprouts I left behind at my mother’s on our migration that I harvested at the last minute. I love Brussel Sprouts, too, but I didn’t eat them all! So, I am weeding them out. Maybe Kalettes will replace them in 2016 if I feel I miss them terribly in 2015. The thing of it is we live in a very agricultural area where fresh organic food from a local farm and the Amish is readily available. So available that my husband brings home bags of cucumbers from the Amish – so why am I trying to grow them in my most treasured space? Which is why I am now growing cucamelons instead, although not very successfully in 2014 due to my own tardiness and negligence. This year, though …

In 2013, I grew potatoes and left them to rot in the ground over the winter so to punish myself, I did not grow them in 2014 – not missed enough for me to incorporate them back into my rotation. In 2013, I didn’t grow enough basil – not nearly enough to make a large stash of freezer pesto and sorely missed so basil moves up in the ranks. In 2014, I was given some onion starts – yum! Now onions, there’s something I may have to make room for because I love farm fresh onions – although I can get them from the Amish. I do plant scallions – they can be tucked in anywhere as they are a great companion to lettuces. My squash got a late start last year and was shaded by a dill forest so didn’t pan out (fun, a pun) – summer squash was missed. Fall squash is easily obtained from the Amish. Worth another try is Malabar spinach which never took off for me last year, but I didn’t make enough effort. And so has been the process of pairing down over the years … which leaves me with this:

TOMATOES – LOVE my tomato sandwiches as well as plenty of cherries for roasting and snacking. I actually ordered some new seed this year. I saved a load of heirloom tomato seeds a few years back – it’s time to add something new to the mix. Looking forward to Black Krim from Bakers.

PEAS – I usually plant on St. Patricks Day but this year we may have to plant a little later than that. Besides I don’t plan on returning home until the first day of Spring (just so I can say to myself it’s Spring!). I ordered some more snap peas because I think my seed is pretty low and several years old.

BUSH BEANS – I have plenty of Dragon Tongue left from last year and need to make more of an effort.

POLE BEANS – Have to plant Scarlet Runner for my hummingbirds – which I just read have began to cross the Gulf! I also have a Northern variety and Red Noodle which I planted too late last year to harvest. Again, more effort this year!

KALE – TONS! My favorite Toscano and Scarlet from Johnny’s, too, to make it pretty.

CHARD – LOTS! Ordered more seed because I’m pretty sure I’ve run out – Ruby Red and Oriole from Johnny’s.

LETTUCE – Romaine, Butter, and NEW! Watercress – hear it is really good for you! (from Renee’s).

EGGPLANT – NEW! Convinced by Robbie at Palm Rae – Casper (white) and Black Beauty (both from Bakers) – should also be pretty in the garden – the Black Beauty also has dark leaves. Now that I eat a Vegan diet, I appreciate eggplant so much more.

HIBISCUS – NEW! Also convinced by Robbie at Palm Rae but couldn’t find Abelmoschus manihot seed, so settled for a tea variety, (from Renee’s) – will add so much beauty to the Potager.

BASIL – Last year I so enjoyed a dark purple variety so this year will be planting large patches of Genovese and Red Freddy from Bakers.

GARLIC – A must! I planted three varieties last Fall – Music, Riesig, German from Hudson Valley Seed – and they were tucked in under a nice blanket of leaves and clipped grass so I am confident I’ll be eating scapes in no time.

FLOWERS – The Potager wouldn’t be complete without lots of flowers. I count on staples Borage and Calendula to faithfully reseed themselves as they have for years. I am not certain with this incredibly cold winter if Morning Glory Grandpa Ott’s will reseed itself again, but it sure did last year! I invested in a beautiful Nasturtium variety from Johnny’s called Night and Day I’m looking forward to, also a staple in the Potager, and will also make more of an effort with Sunflowers this year – they’ve been sorely missed for the past couple of years. The Tagetes did so well last year that I will plant them again – they will probably become a staple, too, since they are also edible and can dress up salads. I think I’ve even read they deter mosquitos!

Night and Day Nasturtium, photo courtesy of Johnny's Seeds

Night and Day Nasturtium, photo courtesy of Johnny’s Seeds

I have to move the raspberries from behind the little greenhouse I picked up last year. I hope to train them better for more fruit. Last year they were swallowed up in the “jungle” and even grew into the greenhouse vents. I will move some Tansy as a companion plant also. I’m a little concerned about Tansy in such a prominent spot in the Potager (to the right of the arbor) as it can spread – what am I saying? I have Black-eyed Susan, Joe Pye, Purple Perilla, Cup Plant, Cutleaf Coneflower, strawberries and probably a few others, running wild – what’s the difference? HA! Reminding myself that there will be a jungle by June/July. Spring is so fresh and dainty. Ah, the garden in Spring …

Some other things I’m looking forward to … Corkscrew Vine! I purchased a meager 5 seeds last year without success. This year I have ordered a plant! I’m so excited. I’m not exactly sure where I will plant it yet – it’s supposed to smell good so somewhere near the back porch – perhaps in the wine barrel where I’m going to construct a new tri-trellis out of copper pipe – let’s see the Wicked Wind of the West break that off! I also ordered a Passion Flower Vine, Betty Myles Young! Attempted Passion Flower seeds last year, too, but they take a month or more to germinate I’ve read, and by the time I raised all the other seedlings, I gave up. I love Passion Flower blooms and have only seen photographs. I hope to see the real thing this Summer. I may just migrate Passion Vine with me next year, too! I purchased both these vining plants from Easy to Grow Bulbs.

Bummer! The Trilliums I thought I had on order didn’t go through – I was so very disappointed – our internet isn’t the best here. I will wait, not so patiently, one more year. I do have, confirmed, a native White Trout Lily on order, though – consolation.

I know you’ll cheer this with me, “Bring On Spring!”

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Author: Kathy Sturr

Author of the Violet Fern blog, artist, and master gardener.

15 thoughts on “What’s the Plan Mojo?

  1. That is quite a plan. Let me know how Black Cherry performs for you….I have not had great luck but hope to try it again. I really like those nasturtiums. I can’t wait to see the potager and some of your changes…soon, so soon I hope!

    • I sure will Donna. I hope they perform well – they look so tasty. I like the contrast of them with Sun Gold. I will save you some Night and Day seeds this year? Wasn’t I going to send you a few things? Please remind me! Your bee garden mix did so well at the community garden last year – so appreciate it! I’ll have to email you some photos.

  2. I love your enthusiasm, it might just be rubbing off onto this winter weary soul. 😉

  3. I know someone else who really liked Zephyr zucchini.

    • They’re beautiful, perfectly sized tasty little things Kathy and I hope I give them more love and attention this year! I also hope it warms up for you soon!

  4. Oh, how I enjoyed this post! All of your musings so match my own. I hadn’t heard of kalettes. Interesting. I can speak to corkscrew vine and the eggplants though. I never had luck with corkscrew vine growing from seed. Last year, however, I grew two plants. While it isn’t a robust, wandering vine, the scent was heavenly. Just the best scent ever. As for the eggplants, may I also suggest you grow a Thai variety? They are long and thin, and the skin is so tender. I think you will love them too. Happy nearly spring.~~Dee

    • I am even more excited to grow Corkscrew Vine now, Dee! I am still tempted by those kalettes – they just may end up in my shopping cart along with some Thai eggplant! Thank you for the wonderful suggestion, Dee.

  5. LOVED this post:-) I agree with the person above ” your musings” match my own. I rotate and diagram my garden down to the inch-LOL

    This gal is from Florida and she has some of the sunset hibiscus seed:-) She has some unusual seed + very good quality:-)

    http://www.onalee.com/catalog.php/onaleeisrael/dt/pd1741920/Sunset_Manihot_Sweet_Edible_Hibiscus_Abelmoschus_manihot_Seeds

    Our gardens belong in a sketch pad for they are our “unique” creations! I love your garden! It is so inspiring and all your choices are exciting. I love Scarlet Kale. Mine kept holding on until the snow covered it over-but it springs back when it warms up-crazy!

    Enjoy your warm weather + I hope all your plants are safe:-) I remember all your planning to get them ready for your vacation.

    I am starting to grow only what I enjoy,too:-) I am not growing some things either. It seems silly to give precious space to flowers, herbs or veggies that are not your favorites.Maybe that is not so bad:-) I am also exploring more perennials vegetables. BUT-they have to taste good-we shall see this summer:-)
    Happy GArdening-Bring the warm weather + sunshine up north!

    • Thank you thank you thank you Robbie for the Hibiscus seed source! I will check out tomorrow. I don’t hold much hope for my poor houseplants – coldest February on record – although snow cover should insulate ground. I will do something different next year since I have been worried about it the whole time. I’ll find out soon enough but already thinking of ways to improve my karma. It is warming up down here – I saw a bumble bee today! Can’t help but notice there is a change here – Spring – too. I can’t wait to see daffodils. Sending warm rays your way!

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  8. I just came across your article, know its a few weeks old. Thanks for the gardening inspiration, and I think thats a perfect idea for the wine barrel, what a fascinating plant. Never heard of cork-screw vine.

  9. Pingback: Potager Plan 2016 | The Violet Fern

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