Spring Gardening Ideas from the Malins

We garden in the two 10’ raised beds in the BAUUC Community Garden. No bending over; much easier on our aging backs and knees. We currently need one or more garden partners to share the upkeep and the abundant harvest.

Each growing season, we learn more about what does well in our garden plots, and what we like to eat. We’ll tell you about our winter garden another time. Every spring, we go to the Master Gardener Sale at the Pasadena Fairgrounds. Last year, we tried some new tomatoes and peppers from there. We found some favorite colorful frying peppers, and went back this year to get Dreamsicle again. It is a lovely orange, just like the popsicle. We also like Carmen and the tried and true sweet banana pepper. We think the bell types are a bit harder to grow here, but have had good luck with a yellow bell that we got at Maas Nursery. They will have a large selection of both peppers and tomatoes as the spring season progresses. This spring we’ll also try red and golden Marconi peppers, and Jimmy Nardelo Italian, which we got as seed from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed company. This is a great outfit, on the internet, with the best seed catalog ever, lots of fascinating heirlooms.

Last summer, the winner among our new tomato varieties was Juliet, a large crack-resistant grape tomato with a great flavor that was very prolific. We bought seed for this, and have lots of extra plants this spring. I’ve also seen it a Lowes. Lowes also has the red Marconi pepper. Two years ago, we had a wonderful full-size striped tomato called Large Barred Boar, prolific and very tasty, which we picked up in Austin, for its short days to harvest. We also loved Sun Gold, a yellow cherry tomato. We were not able to find plants of either of these, so we ordered seed from Baker Heirloom seeds and asked our friends the Hillmans, who run the wonderful Fruit ’n Such Orchard pick-your-own farm, to grow them from seed for us. They will plant a flat of each in their heirloom tomato area at the farm. We have another flat of each, to plant and give away plants. We grew Black Beauty eggplant last summer, and got a big harvest, but we thought it took too long to bear. We’re trying two new varieties from Baker Creek, and have just planted the seeds for sprouting.

On to melons, cucumbers and squashes. We have successfully grown watermelon (Bush Sugar Baby) and cantaloupes. Late in the season, these were eaten by the animals in the vicinity of the community garden. However, we’ll try again. One year, they climbed up some volunteer sunflower plants, and that worked well. Melon seeds are sown directly in the ground. This spring we’ll be trying some new cantaloupe varieties from Baker Creek. A few years ago, we grew a great heirloom lemon cucumber, which produces succulent cucumbers the size and color of large Meyer lemons. They taste delicious and don’t need to be peeled. We successfully grew them from seed for planting this spring. David doesn’t like most summer squashes, and we haven’t been successful with winter squashes. He does like the Mexican Calabacin variety of summer squash. We have planted the seeds and they are sprouting indoors.

Some last tips. For a living mulch, we scatter Mesclun seed mix (small salad greens). In preparing the soil, we add Microlife organic fertilizer and liberal amounts of cotton burr compost from Maas nursery for added nutrition, aeration and moisture retention. We have three clay-pot ‘Ollas’ per bed for constant irrigation.

One response to “Spring Gardening Ideas from the Malins

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