Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Sunday morning: growing stuff

Written By: Bob - Apr• 21•13

I never got very excited about gardening until this year, but it seems to have taken hold of me, which I’m sure is very exciting for all of you. The heirloom corn (Golden Cross Bantam Hybrid, for those of you keeping score with your fantasy gardening teams) that is the first part of my three sisters garden  in our 8’x8′ raised bed is taking off really well.

Ask not for whom the corn grows; it grows for thee.

Ask not for whom the corn grows; it grows for thee.

I planted four hills of seven seeds each, and all seven seeds sprouted in three of the four hills, much to my astonishment. The fourth hill has decided to be my “problem child,” and only two seeds sprouted, so I replanted that yesterday.

The 40 or so corn seeds I planted in our “sacrificial” plot (I’m hoping the bugs, birds, and critters will eat here and leave my stuff alone) behind the back fence really aren’t doing well, at all. Only seven or eight of those have managed to poke through our hard Carolina red clay soil. I’m going to see if I can jumpstart that plot by using one of the extra seed starter kits we have laying around the house. Once they’ve had a chance to get going in the tray I’ll try to transplant the seedlings—with a handful of topsoil each—and see if that is enough to get them going.

For whatever combination of factors, our potatoes have taken off like rockets. We’ve got four half-barrels planted, 3 of which used purpose-bought seed potatoes (I forget the exact variety, other than that they are a form of yellow potatoes, not red), and the fourth barrel is an experiment, from some Yukon Gold potatoes that I’d forgotten about in the pantry that decided they wanted to sprout.

A week ago, this was just a bucket of eyes.

A week ago, this was just a bucket of eyes.

We’ve had a nice warm week with the temperatures pushing into the low 80s, and we’ve had rain twice, so the plants are really starting to take off. Once the corn hits six inches tall, it will be time to plant the squash and pole beans so that they can make their contribution to the “three sisters.” The beans will be the Kentucky Wonder Pole (heirloom), which is a simple choice to make, but the squash choice is a little harder.

Among our squash choices are the ever-popular Black Beauty zucchini, Green Hubbard and Vegetable Spaghetti winter squashes (which I could care less about, but which The Boss likes), and my personal favorite, the cushaw, which make the best pie I’ve ever tasted. Since I have four hills of corn to play with, I’m tempted to plant a variety on each hill, maybe 3 plants each for pollination purposes, plus a few for the starter trays and eventual transfer to the sacrificial plot.

The only thing that really isn’t working at this moment that I’m playing with are the Poblano and Cubanelle peppers that I put in starter trays 10 days ago. Despite everything else doing really well, they show no signs of working. Maybe they’re an inner city variety. Generally, we’ve had incredibly good luck growing peppers here, so maybe they just need more time (or I need fresher seeds).

My wife is working with her two 4″x8″ beds, her container plants, and her herb gardens, so I’m sure there will be a little bit of healthy friendly competition to see who has the greenest thumb.

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  1. Catseye says:

    Looking forward to getting out and starting planting myself. Bit of advice if you have squirrels in the area they’re going to go for the corn. My wife and I have given up on corn but we are considering squirrel meat

  2. Catseye says:

    Still can’t convince the family that Dandelions are edible.

  3. figment says:

    commercial (eating) potatoes are doused with all kinds of growth inhibitors (i live in a big potato growing area). they sprout eyes and possibly plants, but won’t grow tubers.

    peppers like it hot. bottom heated pads to germinate the seed and keep covered in a greenhouse to keep it HOT HOT HOT. even 80degrees isn’t hot enough for peppers.

  4. Actual Gardener says:

    Wrong0 on the store bought potatoes not producing. I have NEVER had them fail to come up. Next time, try it yourself instead of believing what you read from the seed companies.

    There are plenty of other gardening myths (eg nothing will grow under a walnut tree- the best cukes i ever grew were under a large black walnut tree). Test them all and believe your own eyes. Everyone trying to sell you something has an agenda.

  5. thesouthwasrght says:

    We have begun gardening as well. My momma-n-law is an old school southern lady from way back. She owned a nursery at one time, makes super jams, pickles, expert canner, etc..

    Time to rejuvenate those skills.

  6. Advo says:

    As another source of seeds, I would recommend Territorial Seeds, out of Oregon, I think. We plant a garden spring and fall here in South Texas, and their seeds have proven reliable.

  7. Man-Bear-Pig says:

    Congrats on your garden! May it serve your family well in these troubled times.

  8. Chuck says:

    Peppers and tomatoes want both warm air and warm soil. Don’t give up on those peppers yet. They may still surprise and please you.

  9. S.Lynn says:

    I, too, have grown pounds of potatoes from the ones I purchased at the store. Have had 3 seasons-they winter over, too. If you keep adding soil on top, as the greenery grows up, the bigger potatoes are deeper, the small ones closer to the top. I’m going to try a sweet potato that sprouted this week.

  10. R Daneel says:

    Okay, the three sisters = corn, squash & beans. By beans they mean pinto or anasazi. You can get the anasazi from Adobe Milling in Dove Creek, Co. Mine are sprouting nicely. Blue corn is the old staple. Do a web search to find seed sources. By design it is non-hybridized. The squashes are typically hard ones that store well. A killed water pot works as a slow water releaser. (Poke a hole in a ceramic water pot near the bottom and place in the ground. Fill with water.)

    For peppers try ‘Mucho Nacho’ jalapeno, ancho, Big Jim or Sandia are good varieties. Use peat pots to sprout the seeds but the plants need to be kept warm, the warmer the better.