I've spent parts of the last few days refining my ideas for this summer's vegetable garden. I have seed from last year, and even though you lose about 10% germination each year, it's worth using it again. I have a lovely color-coded plan for the front yard, and I've ordered fruit trees and shrubs.
Planning for Produce
Here, then, is my first go-round on this year's edible garden:
Dwarf Liberty and Redfree apples (6 to 9 ft tall at maturity, 2-3 years to harvest) Both of these are recommended by the extension service for the home garden, thanks to good disease resistance. You need at least two for pollination.
Dwarf Lapins sweet cherry (6 to 7 ft at maturity, 3 years to harvest). A calculated gamble, because late frosts often kill the blossoms. But I love sweet cherries, and they often do better in the warmth of urban gardens than elsewhere.
Patriot blueberry (4 to 6 ft at maturity, 2 years to harvest). To replace the dwarf blueberries that didn't survive last summer. I do have three other blueberries out there that seem to be doing ok, so I'll see if I get berries this year.
Nero aronia (3 to 4 ft at maturity). A fruit-bearing shrub from Eastern Europe that's super-hardy and great for juice and jam. So I thought I'd give it a shot.
Sweet Scarlet goumi (4 to 6 ft at maturity). Another unusual fruit-bearing shrub. The fruits look like small cherries with "unique sweet-tart flavor that hints of cherries, apples, and black currants," according to the catalog. I've heard good things about this one.
Strawberries from various plantings already in the garden.
CAS said "Where on earth are you going to put all those fruit trees?" The answer is that the dwarf apples go on the south side of the front yard, the cherry on the north side, the blueberry in the blueberry bed, and the goumi and aronia in the parking strip that contains a maple tree (both do well in some shade). The idea is to use productive trees and shrubs to frame in the garden, then use the space in the middle for vegetable crops. I'm also planning to underplant the trees with a mix of daffodils, comfrey, dill, and other plants according to permaculture principles (more on that another time).
I already have seeds for:
Jewel Tone bell peppers
Little Prince eggplant
2 mixes of heirloom tomatoes from Renee's, plus a Cherry Sugar Sweetie
Cinderella's Carriage heirloom pumpkin (a flop last year, but worth another try)
Tricolor pole beans and Rolande French filet beans
Bush Blue Lake 47 beans
Super Sugar Snap peas
Babette French baby carrots and Romeo round baby carrots
Crimson Crunch radish
Bush Sugar Baby watermelon
Cilantro, parsley, chives
So I'd like to add to my stash:
Baby Bear pumpkin (a reliable producer for me; I trellis the vines and get enough pumpkins for Halloween decorating)
Patty Pan squash (Renee's makes a tricolor mix)
Cucumbers for pickling
Some Roma tomatoes for canning
Salad mix, possibly Little Gem lettuce (I have to admit, I'm not very good about staying on top of the salad crops)
Edamame (Amy F grew her own last year and raved about them, so I'm giving it a try this year)
Potato (Grew my own Yukon Gold last year and had a huge rush of accomplishment when I dug them up. I'm either going to grow some in a compost pile or use them to break new ground this year)
This looks like a lot, but once you factor in succession planning, the new growing space in the front yard, and the fact that I only plant a few of each thing (I am not, thank god, trying to feed a farm family of six completely from my garden or anything), it's a not-unreasonable mix.
Of course, I may be singing a different tune in August, so stay tuned for updates.