It’s time!  At least it is here in NE Tennessee. I normally start seeds in my greenhouse March 1.  I think I am going to be about a week late this year….that pesky broken foot and all…

So…let’s talk gardens.  Do you have one?  I seriously encourage you to think about growing some of your own food this year.  Produce prices are sky-rocketing and then there is that whole “need to know how” issue.  There have been times in the history of this country that people survived because they knew how to grow their own food. I believe those times could be coming again unless you are financially independant! You do NOT want to learn how to grow your own food when your pantry is bare and you are under great stress.  Even if you just put a few pots on your patio this year…a little lettuce, a tomato plant and maybe a pepper or potato…you will be taking the first steps.  My first “garden” was three feet x three feet. Seriously.  I planted something different in each square foot just to see if I could do it.  What really surprised me was the taste factor – oh, my goodness!

Y’all know that plants today are not bred for taste like they used to be.  They are bred for shipping ability, storage and shelf life.  This is why tomatoes from the store are hard and tasteless…but they sure look pretty!

Case in point….here is a picture of some tomatoes that I purchased a few days before I broke my foot.  My intention was to make salsa.  I keep a 5 gallon bucket in my chest freezer filled with whole tomatoes from my garden.  During the winter, I thaw and chop these while adding some of my canned jalapenos, garlic, cilantro and other ingredients. I usually put in a few “store” tomatoes just for texture.  This salsa tastes like it came straight from the garden!

I broke my foot on January 28th.  These were probably purchased on the 26th.  Count it out dear readers..these tomatoes have been sitting on my windowsill for 36 days! They still don’t look too bad. I wonder…how long were they on the truck from California?  (I don’t buy produce from other countries)  If I had taken some of my tomatoes from the garden and put them on the windowsill for 36 days they would be a  moldy, fermented mess.  But my tomatoes were bred for taste…get the picture?
What you could grow on your patio will far surpass what you find in the grocery store!  If you have room for a garden then think about putting in a small garden this year.  If you have been gardening for awhile, think about expanding, trying new varieties, growing something you’ve never grown before!
Let’s talk about variety…in the back of my Perpetual Garden Calendar, I have listed my favorite varieties of veggies and flowers. Herbs are listed under the page for January.  These are varieties I have grown successfully here on the farm.  Here are some of my favorites that you might enjoy growing this year:
Lettuce: Salad Bowl, Red Salad Bowl, Freckles, Buttercrunch, Green Deer Tongue, Paris Island COS, and Red Sails
Pole Beans: Rattlesnake
Bush Beans: Blue Lake and Provider
Dry Beans: King of the Early, Black Turtle, Hutterite
Squash: Seneca Prolific, Starship
Radishes: Cherry Bell, Easter Egg
Spinach: Tyee, Space
Broccoli: Green King
Kale: Lacinto
Cabbage: Early Jersey Wakefield
Sweet Peppers: Jimmy Nardello, King of the North
Hot Peppers: Jalapeno, Habanero, Cayenne
Tomatoes (I’ll try to contain myself!): Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, Brandywine, Arkansas Traveler, Bloody Butcher, Mortgage Lifter, Amish Paste, Orange Banana, Sungold, Black Cherry
Flowers: Cosmos, Zinnia, Sunflowers, Verbena Bonsaries, Nasturtium, Hollyhocks, Veronica,
Culinary Herbs: Basil, French Tarragon, Cilantro, Dill, Sage, Stevia,Thyme, Rosemary Lavender, Lemongrass, Mints, Greek Oregano, Chives, and Parsley.
Medicinal Herbs: Basil, Sage, Rosemary, Lavender, Sorrel, Comfrey, Mullein, Echinacea, Feverfew, Calendula, St. Johns’ Wort, Horehound, and Lemon Balm.
I think, from this list, you can see where my passion lies!  The difference in taste between home grown herbs and what you find in jars in the grocery store is amazing! Throw a few herbs in some pots…put them on your windowsill, your patio, outside your kitchen door.  You won’t be sorry!  Air dry (don’t use an oven or dehydrator!) the extra each time you cut them back and store them for winter use.  You won’t want to use the store bought ones again!
My Garden Calendar is different from other calendars.  There are no little blocks for dates – this is a planting calendar that you keep and use from year to year.  It is laser-printed on 80 lb. card stock to give it a long life. Each month it tells you what you should be doing in your garden…what to direct sow, what seeds to start for transplanting at a later date, what to transplant and what you could be harvesting if you followed the previous months suggestions!  It is filled with tips, recipes and “how-to’s”.
You will find a Crop Rotation Plan, a list of Seed and Garden Suppliers that we use and trust, a much longer list of Varieties of Vegetables and Flowers, a chart giving you the Life Expectancy of Seeds, a list of my favorite Gardening and Canning Books and a conversion chart so that you can use this calendar no matter what state you live in!  I even include the planting sheet I use to keep track of my garden each year – what I planted and when, germination times and notes.  I tried to put all the information about “how to/when to” in one place to make things easier.  There is a place each month for you to take notes specific to your own garden.
The hope is that you can use this perpetual calendar every year to fine tune your garden skills and increase your harvest.  I still use this calendar every year!
In celebration of garden season, I have put the Perpetual Garden Calendar on sale! The printed version is on sale for $15.00 instead of $20.00.
If you’d like to download this calendar instead, so you can reprint it whenever you’d like, it is on sale for $10.00 instead of $16.00!
You can read more about the calendars here and see some pictures of the different pages. If you use my calendar, please let us know what you like the most about it.
I’m always looking for new varieties to try, preferably heirlooms so I can save the seeds.  If y’all have a favorite you are just crazy about, please leave a comment and let me know!
Next post, I’ll do a review on a “survival” medicinal herb pack that a reader asked me about.
Happy Gardening!