Thursday, February 5, 2009

Gardening Again

One of the advantages of being in California is that it is a whole lot better place to grow a garden than upstate NY is. My dad's back yard has never really been landscaped, right now it has some small trees but in between those trees is a great deal of dead space. I have therefore determined that I will try my luck planting another garden.

There is an ancient farming method from Central America where they would grow corn, beans, and squash together. The beans would use the corn stalks as a pole to climb, while fixing nitrogen for the corn. The squash would fill the space between the plants to keep weed growth down, as well as keep small mammals away from the corn since they do not like the spines on their leaves. I don't actually like squash so I don't think I will plant any. However from what I have read cucumber, and melons can substitute for the squash.

I have a general philosophy that I should plant things that are rather rare or expensive if you buy them in stores. It seems silly planting corn that I can just buy 6 for a dollar, or 69 cent a pound cabbage. Also I have a peculiar bias towards heirloom species since many have had a great deal of trouble making the transition to modern agriculture.

For the corn, I settled on Dakota Black Popcorn. I eat a lot of popcorn, and while when popped the black popcorn looks like the yellow or white popcorn it is probably about as unusual as you can get in the world of corn.

For the beans I ordered Chinese Red Noodle Beans. Foot and a half long red beans sounded like at least something I don't see every day in the grocery store, and what I read about them online seemed pretty positive.

I got a heirloom cucumber from Australia, Richmond Green Apple. Nothing terribly unusual about this plant other than a Google search seemed to come up with a lot of people who really liked it.

For the watermelon I am going for another shot at growing white ones. This year I am trying the Japanese Cream Fleshed Suika. Washington State did a study where they grew about 100 varieties of watermelon, and recorded how well they grew. This variety soundly beat the other white ones, so I figure it is a good one to try.

I also got a small melon called Vert Grimpant. Not terribly sure about this one, but giving a try with a rare European melon seemed like fun. I almost bought seeds for Tigger melons, but the reviews online for this melon were horrible so I suspect it was simply bred to look nice and little else.

Then there are Tomatoes. If the local animals had not eaten most of what I grew my tomatoes would have done quite well last year so I am trying again with more varieties. I got seeds for: Transparent, Green Zebra, Paul Robeson, and Pearly Pink. That gives me a white tomato, a green tomato, a purple tomato, and a cherry tomato. I figure that is more tomatoes than I could possibly want.

I also got a few random seeds. I decided to try my luck with a Thai Eggplant, Thai Light Round Green, and a Purple Cauliflower, Violetta Italia.

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