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It was such a nice weekend I had to get some planting done.  It was actually a really great week and I wish I had planted throughout the week to be further ahead but alas I am always playing catch up – even if it is just in my head.  I planted potatoes, beans, peas, and some container greens to get the season rolling.

We also enjoyed our Mother’s day time with our family.  We got a brunch and a bbq in during one day which is really pretty phenomenal day of eating.  On top of that I purchased about 3/4 of the seedlings I needed, so I am ready to get the garden projects moving.

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So for my first project of the weekend I thought I would try to plant some Russian Banana Fingerling Potatoes in potato bags.  This is an experiment for me.  I purchased a bag of these potatoes from a local grocery store and promptly tossed them in the back of my cupboard and forgot about them for about 3 weeks.  When I stumbled back upon them I was furious at myself for wasting them, but they were sprouting, so I devised a plan to recover from my ignorance.

They are organic potatoes so I thought I would give planting them a try.  I have heard that you shouldn’t plant potatoes from a grocery store because of the chemicals sprayed on them but since these were organic I thought I would give it a try.

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I purchased these potato bags 3-4 years ago and only used them once.  I don’t remember the cost but they weren’t very expensive.  The idea is to roll the bag down, fill with potting soil, add the potatoes, cover with more soil, and as they grow unravel the bag and add more potting soil.  There is a flap that you open on the bottom of bags so you can reach in and pull out potatoes.  I think this will be a good way to test these grocery store potatoes because if it doesn’t work out I will not have wasted precious garden space on the experiment.

We will see how it goes but I hope to be feasting on Russian Banana Potatoes in a few months!

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Next up was getting some containers planted with greens I will use for salads.  In my Garden Progress post I talked about my sprouting seeds in paper towels as an experiment.  Well I messed that up pretty quick.  You certainly don’t want to leave those seeds for 6 days before trying to plant.  The seed roots grew through the paper towels and I couldn’t remove without killing the baby plants.  It was one of those situations were I saw a Pinterest pin called something like “Sprout Seeds in Paper Towels for Easy Planting” and I thought to myself I am a smart guy I don’t need to read that I can just do it! Learning my lessons the hard way again.  After that I took some time to google the situation and learned you should use brown paper towels to avoid that. Along with planting after 3 days and spacing the seeds evenly – instead of just tossing them in.

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So I have a new experiment now.  It is called “I messed up sprouting seeds so can I just plant the whole paper towel and let them grow though experiment.”  So I just laid the paper towel covered seeds into the containers and covered with potting soil.  The experiment actually seems to be a success so far as multiple containers have already sprouted through the soil.  I will have to do some extra thinning but hopefully all is well.

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I am also experimenting with some new soil amendments this year.  I talked in Garden Progress about trying to increase my container yields so I will be mixing my potting soil with Coast of Maine Stonington Blend Growers Mix (you can click the link to read about this product on their website).  I love Coast of Maine products they are all approved for organic gardens and aside from my own leaves, grass trimmings, and garden leftovers their Lobster Compost is the only thing I have ever added to my garden soil.  I give it a lot of credit for turning my hard clay like soil into the much richer soil it is today.

When I am not chasing maniac kids, developing recipes, and writing blog posts I work for a great company based locally Pottle’s Transportation (you can click the link to check out Pottle’s).  I started working with Coast of Maine because the are a customer of Pottle’s  and they are wonderful people to work with.  I do not earn any commission from them, I am recommending them because they make a great product, that I use, and would recommend!

My plan to test out this Stonington Blend is to mix a couple shovels full into my salad green containers and the rest will be raked into one of my tomato or cucumber beds.  My containers started years ago with a mix of garden soil and Lobster Compost because I couldn’t afford to fill all my containers with potting soil (I have around 30).  I have added compost to them each year to refresh them and I am hoping this new blend will help bring them to full potential.

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After digging out pine cones from my containers that maniac #2 (Spencer) thought he should plant in them and adding my new soil I got 9 containers planted.  In them I planted…

  1. Dwarf Blue Curled Vates Kale
  2. Fordhook Swiss Chard
  3. Early Top Wonder Beets (For Beet Greens)
  4. Tatsoi
  5. Italian Dandelion
  6. Petite Rouge & Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce
  7. Mesclun Salad Mix
  8. Olive-Leaved Sylvetta Arugula
  9. Baby Leaf Spinach

If you read my Vegetable Garden Layout plan you know I plan to do 2 garden rows each of Swiss Chard and Kale so you might be wondering why I planted more in containers.  The goal is to be able to trim Chard and Kale almost every day for salad greens and I wasn’t able to do that last year from just 1 row of each so I want to make sure I can do it this year.  The container will be in sun most of the day whereas the those garden rows are pretty heavily shaded so the containers are my backup plan if things go wrong (I like to be prepared).

Tatsoi, Dandelion, and Arugula are all favorite salad “extras” that I have grown the last 3 years.  I just snip a little for every salad and let it keep growing.

Petite Rouge and Amish Deer Tongue are two of my favorite old time-y lettuces but they have never grown well in my shaded rows so my plan is to snip baby leaves for salads and let them keep growing in containers.

The Meclun mix and Spinach are new to me this year.

These will be my main containers and they will be allowed to grow in the sun at the top of the sloped beds.  Some of the greens I can move into shaded spots as the heat of summer rolls in.  I will do more containers later (probably of herbs) to put on the stairs that go from the driveway to the back yard but that is a project for another day.

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We made our annual Mother’s Day pilgrimage to a local greenhouse to purchase seedlings.  I was quite happy with my haul as I crossed most things off my list in one trip.

Those seedling plus the Kale, Chard, Cucumbers, Broccoli, Corn, and Zucchini I started indoors are all out in my little greenhouses now soaking up sun by the front porch waiting to be put in the ground. This is what I have purchased so far for seedlings…

  1. 12 Jet Star Tomatoes
  2. 12 Roma Tomatoes
  3. 3 Black Krim Tomotoes
  4. 3 Garden Peach Tomatoes
  5. 6 Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes
  6. 6 Yellow Pear Cherry Tomatoes
  7. 3 Sun Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes
  8. 3 Black Cherry Tomatoes
  9. 6 Ace Green Peppers
  10. 6 Northstar Green Peppers
  11. 3 Jalapeno Peppers
  12. 3 Cayenne Peppers
  13. 12 Raider Cucumbers
  14. 12 Northern Pickling Cucumbers
  15. 4 Howden Pumpkins
  16. 4 Spineless Beauty Zucchini’s
  17. 4 Crookneck Squash
  18. 12 Stonehead Cabbage
  19. 12 Premium Crop Broccoli
  20. 12 Arcadia Broccoli
  21. 4 Little Fingers Eggplant
  22. 6 Brussel Sprouts
  23. 24 Bright Lights Swiss Chard
  24. 12 Kale

Still left on my hit list is…

  • Lemon Cucumbers
  • Cauliflower
  • Kolhrobi
  • Ground Cherry
  • Melon
  • 3 more Cayenne Peppers

I have deviated from my Vegetable Garden Layout already and I will continue to tweak.  My favorite tomato of last year “Cherokee Purple” was still really small at greenhouse so I opted to go with a mix of Black Krim and Garden Peach.  All in all, I am really happy.  I spent about half a week’s worth of groceries on these seedlings and I expect to get much much more then that from them.  I will give a breakdown of costs in next month’s “Website and Garden Reports” feature.

It was a busy weekend filled with a lot of great times.  Coming up I will get into how I planted beans and peas in the garden this year and in the next week I will introduce you to the newest maniacs in our clan.  I am really excited to write about them- Here is a sneak peak…

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Thanks for reading!

Jeff McIntosh

Jeff's family lives in his childhood home on a 1/4 acre in town lot. Despite the small space to work with, they have challenged ourselves to produce as much of our own food as possible — and cook it!...