Mrs. Quilter, would you by any chance have any recommendations for the fruits and veggies a beginner should start with when using seeds? I believe I will try onion, pumpkin, radishes, tomatoes, lettuce, rhubarb, strawberries, blueberries, sweet snap peas, and potatoes. But there are so many versions I get so confused. I have the Bakers and... Shoot, cant remember the other catalog and I am CONFUSED. Any tips would be much appreciated! Many wishes for a bountiful new year!
Indiana Gardener below is a list of my personal preferences and any tips or suggestions. These are what work for MY AREA and My FAMILY. I urge you to be adventurous and create your own gardening traditions.
When I was a new gardener, back when dirt was just getting started, I started growing onions from sets. Sets are small immature onion bulbs that you buy in the store. This is the easiest and fastest way to grow onions.
Then I started growing my own from seeds. They are started very early in the year. I will be starting mine sometime this month.
You can also buy bundles of onion plants or starts at most gardening centers and order them from most seed companies. I usually plant sets earlier for early onions and then plant my homegrown onion plants a little later. This helps to extend my onion harvest so that they are not all coming in at once. I do also think that onions started from seed store better than sets in my climate. (personal experience)
When ordering onion seeds you want a long day onion in Indiana. Short day onions are better for the south and long day onions are better for the north. Believe it or not in Missouri I can kind of get away with both but I tend to prefer long day. My onion of choice is Australian Brown.
Below is an excellent article on growing onions.
Pumpkins are fun to grow but remember they tend to take up lots of space as they love to run or vine. Remember there are lots of different varieties with different uses. There are pumpkins for decorating, pumpkins for pies and soups and even pumpkins for seed production. I plant Long Island Cheese which is a sweet meated pie pumpkin. It is open pollinated (you can save seeds), grows great in my area and freezes and cans well. I only planted 3 vines and I put up pumpkin in jars and have pumpkins stored under the stairs. . My husband actually likes the butternut winter squash, a pumpkin pie substitute better than the real thing. I think they store better and are smaller so one will just about make a serving of pie or soup.
Below is an excellent article on Growing Pumpkins
Tomatoes are one of those crops that everyone has a personal preference and opinion. I grow Brandywine and open pollinated heirloom. This is my large main crop tomato for slicing, canning and all around use. I always grow some small yellow pear tomatoes. This is an heirloom open pollinated plum type tomato. I grow them every year because my kids and grandkids eat them like candy. Last year I also grew a small red plum tomato trying it out . Every year I also plant a couple vines of Big Rainbow. This is a large, low acid, slicer that is bi colored (red and yellow). It is also open pollinated and an heirloom, it is my personal low acid preference and a bush or two is plenty. Some years I will experiment with a few new varieties but the varieties above are my staples. By the way all of my tomatoes are indeterminate which means they get really tall and require cages to support them.
Below are posts on planting tomatoes
Lettuce is a pretty simple crop to grow. People around here actually just throw the seed in the snow. My family all like Black Seeded Simpson which is an open pollinated heirloom. This year I would like to plant and try a romaine for myself. My family love not only this variety of for salads but like it mixed with young spinach and mustard as a mixed green salad. It makes great wilted lettuce also.
Rhubarb is one of those perennial crops that I had never grown or eaten until I moved to Missouri. You cannot grow rhubarb in Louisiana. My rhubarb start was given to me by a neighbor and is the old fashioned green kind. I have no idea what variety it is. I have added a new red variety to my bed but as yet have not been able to harvest. I do not harvest the first year. My rhubarb bed is raised and I filled it with lots of organic matter and bunny poop. As you can see my plants love it. I have had few issues with my rhubarb and it seems to be a pretty hardy plant. Rhubarb are started by root sections usually and I am unsure as to whether they can be grown from seed.
I plan to increase the size of my own strawberry patch this year. As I get more grandchildren there seems to be less leftover for grandma : ( I am ordering from Stark Bros and will be getting 50 Earliglo and 50 Surecrop. Both are June bearers and grow in zone 5. Don't forget that there are 2 kinds of strawberries. June bearers produce one huge early summer crop (June in zone 5) and then there are everbearers that produce from early summer usually clear up to frost. I like to replace my strawberries every 3 to 4 years.
Strawberries are usually started from root sections or crown also. They usually come in bundles of 25 and run around $12 a bundle around here.
Sorry but radishes, blueberries and sweet snap peas I have never grown. I do not like radishes, my husband does not like blueberries and I may buy some occasionally to make muffins but that is about it. I grow green shell peas although we do occasionally like pea pods in stir fries.
As for potatoes we had great luck last year growing Kennebec and Red Pontiac under straw. My husband says that he may never go back to growing them traditionally again. They were so easy to plant and dig and did wonderfully even in our drought conditions. There are many varieties of potatoes out there but we are real traditionalist. We like Red Pontiac dug small as new potatoes and my husband especially loves them canned with green beans.
And his personal favorite
creamed peas and new potatoes.
Anyone in Indiana please feel free to add comments on what grows well there and I hope this helps.
Thanks for stopping by Indiana Gardener and hoping you and yours a safe and successful gardening year in 2013.
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter