I love a new year in the garden. It’s a chance to start fresh, to try new plants as well as new varieties of favorite veggies. Here in Zone 8, we have just started the winter planting season. (Ok, I know I’ve just made many of my northern readers green with envy. Sorry!) Friday is going to be a perfect day to plant, so I have only 2 more days to wait!
The raised beds that will get winter crop seeds are ready to plant. I top-dressed them with cow manure compost then covered them with leaves to protect the soil and deter weeds. All I have to do is remove the leaves and throw them onto the grass to be cut up by the lawnmower and put into the compost pile.
I also want to try something new this year ~ a product called Azomite. It’s a soil amendment made from volcanic rock that contains trace elements. Studies have shown fantastic improvement in growth and health of plants grown in soil with Azomite added. My challenge is to find a local source for buying it. Buying two 44-pound bags of it online is a little expensive as the shipping would cost as much as the product! I have a local company that might sell it, and two more within a 30-mile drive that might have it. (I’m willing to drive up to an hour away for it as the cost of the gas would still be less than paying for shipping if I bought it online.) I’ll keep you posted on my quest, as well as how my garden performs with this amendment.
2014 WINTER PLANTING:
Here are the varieties I’ll be planting this week with links to where I purchased them. I purchased my seed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and Pinetree Garden Seeds and Accessories.
- Scarlet Nantes Carrots – my favorite and always planted in my garden
- Parisienne Carrots – I received these free from Baker Creek so I’m going to try them
- Watermelon Radishes – my all-time favorite radish
- Miyashige Daikon Radishes – great for cooking
- White Icicle (Lady Finger) Radishes – great raw or cooked
- Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce – my main lettuce choice for the base of my salad mix
- Red Sails Lettuce – a beautiful and tasty red addition to a salad (the more sun it gets, the deeper red the leaves)
- Red Romaine Lettuce – Another tasty red lettuce
- Tom Thumb Lettuce – a small, butterhead lettuce perfect for single-serve salads
- Buttercrunch Lettuce – A larger butterhead lettuce that is just as tasty
- Arugula – when harvested small, it’s a spicy addition to salad; larger leaves are great cooked. (I just found out the flowers are edible, too, but I haven’t tried them yet.)
- Long Standing Bloomsdale Spinach – a heat tolerant spinach that’s perfect for the South
- Blue Curled Scotch Kale – my favorite winter green
- Batavian Full Heart Escarole – perfect for adding cooked to my Italian chicken soup or fresh in a salad
As squirrels dug up all my seed (planted in October), I need to plant onion sets (baby plants) in February. I’m going to try to grow my own onion sets in my grow room this year.
- Red Creole Onions – a mild short-day onion
- Texas Early Grano Onions – a Vadalia type short-day onion
I planted my garlic in October, and the item ships only in the fall. But if you want to jot this down for next year, here’s the link:
- Italian Softneck Garlic – a tasty softneck variety that grows well in the South and can be braided
- Golden Globe Turnip – a mild, buttery-tasting turnip
- Purple Top White Globe Turnip – the standard, spicy turnip we all love
- Early Wonder Tall Top Beets – a variety I tried last year which grew better than the Detroit Red in my garden
- Chioggia Beets – this is my first time planting this variety
Monday I purchased organic potatoes from my local health food store (Earthfare) to plant in February. (A good month is needed to grow eyes, then cut and let the potatoes heal. See Planting Potatoes for more information.)
- Red Potatoes
- Purple Potatoes
- Fingerling Potatoes
Although already planted, here’s what I’m growing – which will be ready for harvest in February:
- Mary Washington Asparagus – my third year of this green variety, so I can harvest to my heart’s content, at least until the spears are thinner than a pencil. I purchased roots at Lowes.
- Purple Passion Asparagus – my first year of this purple variety, so I can’t harvest any of it. It has to go to fern.
These winter crops take up nine of my twenty beds. Other than the garlic, onions, and asparagus, the crops will be harvested prior to the big spring planting.
Do you have a winter planting season? What are you planting?