Every year about this time, I usually start to get serious about garden planning. I like to begin ordering seeds about now, and before I can do that I need to do a seed inventory as well as get some ideas about what I want to grow in the coming year. The seed inventory is now completed, and I’ve been working on my 2022 plan for some time already. There are always last-minute changes to my list of course, and sometimes things change even at planting time if I run out of room or lose seedlings for some reason. 2022 looks to be an interesting year for the garden here at Happy Acres for several reasons worth mentioning.
To backtrack a bit, in 2020 I decided to scale back the garden by 30-40%. I was literally gardening more and enjoying it less, and I am happy to say I was pleased with the 2020 plan and how things turned out. I still spent a lot of time working in the garden, but I enjoyed it quite a bit more than I had in previous years. Last year I planted about the same size area, and we hauled in over 800 pounds of fruit and vegetables. So that part of the plan seems to be working, and I can see me scaling back my plantings more and more as I get older. The 2021 garden kept us well supplied with plenty of food to eat fresh and to preserve for later use.
Last year I also decided to try something new in the garden for mulching – woven weed barrier fabric. The material I’m using is four feet wide, and listed as “professional grade 3.2 oz” material. I have used similar fabric in the past for walkways, but not in the vegetable garden. I tested it on transplants like squash, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, kale and collards. And I also tested it for direct-seeded crops like turnips and bush beans. It did quite well in all applications, and I plan to use it again for 2022. It kept the weeds down, and I should be able to reuse the fabric pieces for several seasons.
One big thing I want to do different this year is to add walkways between my garden beds. Since I have idled 30% of the garden, there is ample room now to establish mulched pathways between the planting areas. That should cut down on soil compaction, as well as make harvesting and other work easier. I will likely put down cardboard on the paths, and cover with straw or another organic material. I don’t plan to make raised beds, just permanent walkways that are kept mulched to keep down weeds and provide a place to walk and work without compacting the planting beds themselves. I’m still working out the exact spacing for this, but I will share details and photos later as I get everything established. I will likely start with the first couple of beds this year and see how it goes.
Another thing I want to do different in 2022 is experiment with no-dig and no-till beds. I am inspired by Lee Reich’s classic 2000 book called Weedless Gardening. Reich’s background as a soil scientist and long-time gardener lends considerable credibility to his methods to have a successful garden without spending a lot of time weeding. I will still have to disturb the soil where I grow sweet potatoes, since I like to hill up the soil into a ridge before planting. Other than that, most of the other edibles we grow should work without tilling or digging. At most, a light raking in of fertilizer or other soil amendments like sulfur will be necessary in most places. As with the walkways, I plan to start with two or three beds this year and see how it goes.
I love to experiment with growing new things, so my growing list is always long. And there are always last-minute changes to my list too. Varieties I am growing for the first time are marked with an *.
Asian Greens: Central Red mizuna, Miz America mizuna, Mizspoona Salad Select, Violetta pac choi
Basil: Amethyst, Everleaf Emerald Towers, Everleaf Thai Towers*, Profuma di Genova, Siam Queen, Siricusa, Sweet Thai, Thai Lemon
Beans (bush): Derby, Provider, Slenderette
Beans (pole): Bertie Best’s Greasy Bean, Gizzard, Lazy Wife Greasy, North Carolina Long Greasy, NT Half Runner, Pink Tip, Rose*, Turkey Craw, White Greasy*
Broccoli: Apollo, Artwork, Burgundy, Happy Rich, Santee, Rudolph
Cabbage: Conehead, Green Presto, Minuet (napa), Tendersweet, Wah Wah Tsai(napa)
Collards: Alabama Blue, Georgia Blue Stem, Jernigan Yellow Cabbage Collards, McCormack’s Green Glaze, Nancy Malone Wheat Purple, North Carolina Yellow, Yellow Cabbage Collards, Whaley’s Favorite Cabbage, White Mountain Cabbage Collards
Cucumber: Corinto, Excelsior, Green Light*, Itachi, Manny, Mini Munch, Nokya,
Eggplant: Annina, Asian Delight, Charming, Dancer, Fairy Tale, Galine, Gretel, Icicle*, Orient Charm, Machiaw, Purple Shine, Nadia
Greens: Apollo arugula, Darkita arugula, Purple Stemmed arugula, Speedy arugula
Kale: Dazzling Blue, Groninger Blue Collard Kale, True Siberian, Western Front, White Russian, Wild Garden Mix
Kohlrabi: Beas, Kolibri, Kossak, Terek
Lettuce: Baja, Bauer*, Bergam’s Green, Cavendish, Frisygo, Grazion*, Hampton*, Kiribati, Mirlo, Nancy, Navara, Oscarde, Panisse, Pele, Red Sails, Salanova, Sea of Red, Simpson Elite, Slobolt, Starfighter, Tango, Tendita*
Parsley: Cilician, Giant From Italy, Hungarian Landrace, Splendid
Pepper(hot): Aji Angelo, Aji Delight, Aji Golden, Aji Rico, Biggie Chili, Chili Pie, Early Flame, Flaming Flare, Guajillo, Hernandez, Honeypeno, Malawi Piquante, Minero, Senorita Jalapeno, Sugar Rush Peach, Tangerine Dream
Pepper (sweet): Carmen, Cornito Arancia, Cornito Giallo, Cornito Rosso, Escamillo, Jimmy Nardello’s, Sweetie Pie
Radish: Alpine, Bora King, Red King 2*, Sweet Baby
Squash(summer): Astia, Clarimore, Dunja, Early Bulam, Green Machine, Hurakan, Mexicana, Tempest, Teot Bat Put, Zephyr
Squash(winter): Centercut, Goldilocks, Honey Bear, Thelma Sanders, Tromba d’Albenga, Turkeyneck
Sweet Potatoes: Beauregard, Bonita, Korean Purple, Murasaki, Purple
Tomatoes: Artisan Seeds Test Varieties, Better Boy, Chef’s Choice Orange, Chef’s Choice Purple, Chef’s Choice Red, Chef’s Choice Yellow, Cherry Bomb, Damsel, Garden Gem, Garden Treasure, Golden Cherrywine*, Granadero, Health Kick, Juliet, Monticello, Pink Cherrywine, Pink Delicious*, Purple Boy*, Purple Zebra*. Sunpeach, Sunset Torch*, Sun Sugar
Turnips: All-Top, Hakurei, Topper, Turnbroc