Saturday, March 13, 2010

Garden Plans, Part I

Isn't this great?

It's from the February 26, 1943 edition of the Topeka Daily Capital. At this point sugar had been rationed for nine months and canned goods rationing was set to start within a week. Red point rationing of meats/oils/cheeses was still over a month away.

But can you see the excitement in their eyes? That's how the Rational Living family has viewed the seed catalogs this year, too.

We've always perused the catalogs in spring, dog-earing and asterisking (whoa, that's a real word) interesting options and day-dreamy ideas. Typically, we might try one new thing a year (or we might try - and fail - at container potatoes twice), but we normally just fall back to the standard, small tomatoes-n-such garden.

But this year, gardening is serious business. Really serious business.

We will really need to maximum our garden harvest this year so that we have plenty of fresh produce during the summer to eat PLUS have enough extra to store-up for winter. The more home-preserved produce we have going in to the fall and winter the fewer precious ration points we will have to spend.

In order to do this we must be more selective about plant varieties and expand our garden size from modest to massive. This post will cover the varieties and a future post will take you on a tour of our gardening spaces.

The article on the left is from Feb. 23, 1943 and it includes a thorough list of what vegetables were recommended for Victory Gardens. Over the past few months we've developed our own list of what we will plant, based upon family preferences and growing conditions. Here's what we have so far:

Spring Garden

Garlic (Inchelium Red, already in the ground)

Summer Garden
Tomatoes (cherry, standard and paste)
Peppers (bell and jalapeno)
Garlic (harvest in July)
Cucumbers (standard and pickling)
Yellow squash or zucchini
Green Beans (pole)
Malabar spinach
Melon (space permitting)
Lemon Balm

Autumn Garden
Garlic (back in the ground)

We're not going to bother with some items (such as carrots, corn, cabbage and okra) because they are readily available at our local farmer's market for very reasonable prices. Additionally, we will have some surprises each week because we've signed up for our local CSA again.

In the spirit of not wasting, I'm vowing to use up most of the produce seeds that we have leftover from previous years. This includes seeds for tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, mesclun, beans, radishes, some cucumbers and most of the herbs. We ordered the rest of our precious seeds from Seed Savers.

We'll be starting seeds in the greenhouse before the month is over and the peas should be in the ground by then as well. Of course, that means we need to get supplies and start turning over the soil and mixing in compost and the like. We've had so much moisture on the ground for the last several months that that everything is too wet; hopefully some dry, sunny days are in our near future.

That's our list...what are you planting, dear reader?

--Rational Mama


  1. We have a nice backyard, but a dog who is not well trained and views that space as hers, we are hesitant to put in a garden space back there. We use a bed at the side of the house and the past few years have just put in a few tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers. Strawberries have not been terribly successful. Tomatoes and peppers did well last year.
    This year I have decided to do tomatoes in containers at the side of the house where we get good sun. This will allow me to put in more bell pepper plants, and try my hand at zucchini this year. We'll see how it goes. I struggle with garden fatigue often in the hottest summer months which does in my plants at times. I also kind of don't really know what I am doing.

  2. We live in an apartment with no room to garden. I haven't had much success in the past but I am trying container gardening again this year. I am also going to inquire about community garden plots but they have to be within walking distance. I have already started a tray of lettuce in our window that are growing like weeds (we don't have ledges inside or outside so I had to put a table in the window). I haven't had luck with tomatoes so I may just skip them since I can get them cheap locally. I will probably grow the lettuce, spinach, chard and peppers. If I can get a plot, I'll probably add in some zucchini, cukes, beans and cabbage.

  3. Both of you will have to keep me posted on your zucchini. In years past my zucchini never took off, so I didn't even bother for the past several years.

  4. I have looked into local CSA's with no luck here. Can you tell me who you are using?

  5. Jean - it's the CSA offered through the Natural Food Co-op (it's the same one we've done before). I'm not sure if there are any others in this area, but I know there's a few available in Lawrence.