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Feb 24, 2011 05:27 PM

The 2011 Garden

It's soon time to start seedlings here in Virginia. I'm in zone 6B. In fact, we've started our broccoli already because last year we discovered it survived the flea beetles better if the transplants were large and they'll be set out really early under under hoops and plastic. But about mid-March we start our tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers indoors. We haven't decided what variety of eggplant we're growing yet but we're planting Smokey, Principe Borghese, Amish Paste and Currant tomatoes and Marconi, Zavory, and Mini-Belle Peppers. I'd love some suggestions for eggplant varieties. Good bug-resistant ones. Not Black Beauties, we're more fond of Japanese-type eggplants. A suggestion for a mild hot pepper would be nice, we're not into mouth-burning varieties or heat for the sake of heat. And last year we were given a zucchini that was green, round, and about the size of a softball but the person who gave it to us didn't know what variety it was either. I'd like to grow that, we really liked it and we are so burnt out on regular zucchini. Anyone familiar with it?

We built this shelf last year for starting our seeds and it became really useful beyond that: I wanted to share it because we were able, for the first time, to grow really healthy, stocky transplants with it.

What's going into your garden?

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  1. Thanks for the details in the blog post. That is exactly what I hope to put together for my first attempt at seed starting. I've got to get on that! I don't have advice for specific varieties, but wanted to thank you for the info . . . so glad to hear it works well for year round greens and herbs. I definitely see us using it for that next winter.

    Do you run a B&B in Floyd? My husband is a VT grad, and we don't get down for games often, but always seem to have trouble finding a place to stay when we do.

    1 Reply
    1. re: centralpadiner

      We do and we'll be back open starting May 1st. The area fills up for miles around way in advance for any VT event so I'm not surprised to hear you've had accommodation difficulties. Leave a comment on the blog and I can get in touch with you from there.

    2. I have had good results with Orient Express eggplant in Chicago. Johnny's carries the seeds. This variety seems to coexist pretty well with flea beetles.

      There are a number of varieties of round zucchini. Johnny's carries three different ones while Burpee's has a straight Eight Ball and a mix. I grew one of the lighter green types once (Rolly Poly IIRC) and would never do it again as the the squash are hard to spot and grow very rapidly beyond a good size for eating. The golden one from Johnny's might be a good choice.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Eldon Kreider

        I am 7b, so I have started tomatoes, peppers and chard already. I have moved my garden and put in raised beds, so it's all from scratch this year.

        I decided to start from all old seed (I had a ton!) and see what happens before I bought more. I heavily seeded each cell hoping to get a couple good ones and probably have 80% germination. Some of the seed was packed for 2000. I'll have to write Johnny's and Cooks Garden and tell them. I certainly never expected all of them to be viable, so I'll probably end up trying to sell some transplants at the farmer's market. It's not like I can just toss them! Of course, I could put in another bed, too!

        I started Golden Summer, Hungarian Stuffing and Boldog peppers. I grew Anchos with good success but found the heat varied so much from pepper to pepper, even on the same plant, that menu planning was tricky! The range went from no hotter than a bell, to pretty spicy. They might work for your pepper choice, if you don't mind the range.

        For tomatoes I started Bellstar, Matts Wild Cherry, First Lady, Big Beef, Garden Peach, Polish Linquisa, Matina, Cluster Grande, and Jubilee.

        I have never had much luck with eggplant, but I am going to start Ichiban and Neon and see if the new location helps.

        I am also going to try potatoes in a separate pile and use straw. I am using a fingerling potato. I've never grown potatoes before so we'll see.

        1. re: NanH

          We are in quite different climates, but Orient Express eggplant has outperformed Ichiban for me in every way.

          1. re: Eldon Kreider

            Thanks for the tip! I'll put that on the list.

            1. re: Eldon Kreider

              Ichibans grew well for me in NY (as in, jayzuz! not more eggplant!) but have been a total no show here in VA. Orient Express it is.

              I did manage to get some eggplants last year by growing them in pots raised higher than flea beetles can jump. That rec was 3' off the ground. It worked, but only enough for fresh eating.

            2. re: NanH

              We refer to these charts concerning the viability of well-stored seeds when inventorying our seed stash:

              1. re: morwen

                Wow, so my 11 year old seed that have been in the crisper are superstars! Peppers, chard and tomatoes all made an appearance. I think the peppers had the lowest germination rate.

              2. re: NanH

                I've been considering the straw potato bed. I've grown potatoes before in tire towers which was a great space saver and made harvesting easy. But now I've got loads more space and I like the idea of reaching into the bed on occasion and coming up with a handful of baby potatoes for supper. Just picked up Irish Cobbles today.
                I still have a number of fingerlings a friend gave me from his harvest last year. I have no idea what variety they are other than tasty. They're in good shape and I'm saving them for our own garden this year.

                1. re: morwen

                  The reaching in thing is what has me convinced, too. I read a little about it and it sounds dead easy, which is why I am nervous about it! The variety I am trying is 'Swedish Peanut'.

            3. Love the shelf.. will have to figure out where I could fit something like that.....

              I have a suggestion for a medium-hot pepper, not mild. Last year I bought a start of Lemon Drop on a whim because I liked the name and it turned out to be wonderful. Small, jalapeno-size but thinner peppers, medium-hot that turn green to bright lemon yellow. They were nice fresh, but have turned out to be my favorite pickled pepper this winter. Ideal size for 8 oz jars, lovely color, great flavor.

              Could the zucchini be Ronde de Nice?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Junie D

                I was intrigued by Lemon Drops when I read about them and I have them on my wish list. As it turns out, my husband found and ordered the Ronde de Nice zucchinis.

                If you go for the purchase of a shelf like that, depending on your space requirements, Improvements has this dandy 10"x24" pantry caddy on wheels on sale right now:

                I haven't seen this size in the big box home stores.

              2. The shelf is excellent! I built a similar one out of wood, OG had instructions, but I clearly missed out because yours is good looking and doesn't list alarmingly to the left.

                1 Reply
                1. re: NanH

                  We're still giggling over the "doesn't list alarmingly to the left" part, having built things in the past that acquired an alarming list. Thank you! and please, go drop your review in the comment section where we can continue to enjoy it!

                2. I've planted the small, round zucchinis. They're great for stuffing.

                  I'll be planting French breakfast radishes, okra, Sicilian eggplant, arugula, endive, romaine, cilantro, parsley, beefsteak tomatoes, jalapenos, red peppers, cylindrica beets, peas, haricots verts, Chinese long greens, tomatillos, zucchini, fingerlings and red-skinned potatoes (not sure which variety yet).

                  Also hoping to try growing padron peppers this year.