In the Garden:
Plant peas now and support them on a pea fence for bumper crops in the months ahead.
Get Going with Vegetables
Before I start planting my vegetable garden, I need to assess my new digs. Last year was the first for this garden, and it looked great. I'll probably plant many of the same vegetables since I have limited time this year for vegetable research with house construction going on. The vegetable garden is divided into nine 7-foot square beds divided by paths with a 30-inch-wide bed in an L-shape along a picket fence around two sides. The third side is where the corn is planted. The fourth side is open until I get around to expanding the area as planned.
I have large wooden tepees at the center of four of the beds. Last year I grew various types of pole beans on these and surrounded them with bush beans and other low-growing vegetables. They were so highly productive that I had too many beans. This year I think I'll intersperse the pole beans with morning glories or other flowering annual vines.
Among my most successful efforts last year were vegetables trained on supports. I grew peas on purchased pea fencing and was rewarded with lots of easily picked peas over many weeks. 'Lincoln' and 'Green Arrow' are reliable varieties, but I'm interested in trying the new 'Eclipse', which holds its sweetness longer.
Cucumbers were planted inside small wire towers and were productive through much of the summer. I like the mild Middle Eastern types, such as 'Amira', for fresh eating, as well as the long Japanese types and seedless types like 'Sweet Success'.
I've grown tomatoes in wire cages for years, planting one or two each of fourteen varieties. I'll do the same this year, choosing both heirloom varieties and new hybrids. I always try to have at least one cherry tomato, several paste tomato plants, several yellow and orange varieties, and several of the big beefsteak types, plus a few unusual ones.
My Best Vegetables
Every year I've narrowed down what I grow, continually refining my choices to what is most enjoyed, what is most easily grown, and what is expensive or not easy to buy. Okra is always in the garden. The family tradition is to slice, slightly dust with flour, and fry it. Beets are another favorite. I really like the new single-seeded types like 'Monopoly' that need minimal thinning. Kale, broccoli, spinach, and Swiss chard are among our favorites, too. Sweet red peppers make a nutritious snack on a hot day. And sweet corn never ceases to please, especially 'Sugar Buns' and 'Silver Queen'.
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