Our Blue Ridge Mountain Kitchen Garden


We have finally planted all the seeds and starters in our kitchen garden for the 2013 summer growing season.  This is a classic list of veggies that seem to fill surrounding gardens in the valleys of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  This year I wanted to try a few different varieties of the regulars to add color and spice up our dinner table.

Our veggie list includes…

Garlic:  We planted our garlic in the fall of 2012; November 1 is the best planting date.  Since this is the first year that we haveplanted garlic we decided to try four different varieties; Nookta Rose, Music, Red Toch, and Georgia Crystal.  It was nice to have the greenery in the garden for the winter and spring months.  They all seem to be growing healthy and happy.  I am a little anxious about pulling them up this summer and curing them correctly.

Potato:  From year to year our potato production has varied drastically.  This year I only ordered a small amount of Yukon Gold seed potatoes, and decided that we weren’t going to plant too many so we could figure out what was wavering with their care.  Well, as all things farm go, plans changed when a good friend gave us two boxes of extra seed potatoes so we ended up planting five rows instead of just the one.  The green tops have been coming up nicely and we keep mounding the dirt as they grow to make sure there is ample growing space for the potatoes in the earth.

Sweet Potato:  One of the most mysterious plants in my mind is the sweet potato.  This will be our first year growing sweet potato.  While researching I found that you can eat the greens of the sweet potato, as long as you don’t take too many that it will interrupt the growth under the ground.  We got Bradshaw slips and planted one small row.  I am already wishing we planted more.

Tomato:  What to say about tomatoes?  No garden is complete without them.  We usually do a few different kinds that are unique in some way, but also are great for canning.  Tomatoes were the first vegetable that I learned to can and I don’t believe I will be stopping that anytime soon.  The varieties we planted this year were Goliath, Abe Lincoln, Persimmon, Thessaloniki, Roma, and San Marzano. We also planted Sungold and Matt’s Wild cherry tomatoes.

Eggplant:  My husband, Randy, did not grow up with eggplant and only had the mediocre store bought lifeless purple football before we were together.  Thanks to the Rosa Bianca variety I have been able to make a few dishes that he genuinely likes to eat.  I will have to share some of those recipes this summer when the eggplant comes into season.

Bell Pepper:  The first few years I have planted the green peepers that turn red if you wait long enough.  This year I decided to forgo the waiting and bought yellow and red colored pepper starters.  The extra color is useful in so many different recipes.

Serrano Pepper:  Every year I choose a different hot pepper to plant.  Hot peppers are not only great for the table, but they are a great companion plant to keep pests away.

Beet:  We love beets in our household.  Every year I try to plant more beets than the year before so that I can can some for the winter and every year we seem to not have enough.  Beet greens have been another useful ingredient as well that a lot of people forget about – Eat your greens!

Radish:  These colorful gems are a nice spicy treat for on top of salads or for munching for a boost of energy while weeding thegarden.

Carrot:  Randy was a skeptic the first year we started growing carrots, and I still not sure if he truly loves it.  The truth about growing carrots is that they need plenty of water, tons of time, and will never grow to be as long as the carrots you buy in the store.  With that aside, they are the tastiest carrots you will ever eat.  Once a child asked me at an outdoor function if she could pick a carrot from our garden.  I conveyed to her that we were about to have cake so she may not want to have the carrot.  She so politely informed me that she would prefer the carrot.  Kids love veggies that come out of the ground, it’s like magic.

Cucumber:  In past years we have grown the regular long green cucumber.  I have nothing bad to say about this fellow, but I am just bored with him.  This year we are testing out two new varieties an all white long cucumber and a lemon cucumber.  Not only will the fresh eaten cucumbers be great new colors, but also so will our pickles.

Squash:  There always seems to be too much summer squash and not enough winter squash so this year I doubled our winter squash plantings.  We have Yellow Crookneck, Candy Roaster, and Butternut planted.

Corn:  Corn is a crop that is overlooked.  Fresh cobs from the summer garden can make a meal.  One variety that we planted this year will be a surprise for visitors.  Martian Jewels is a sweet yellow corn, but when you bite down to the core you will find it is purple.  This variety is also good for keeping for decoration if you let it mature fully on the stalk.

Bean:  Selma Zesta and Dean’s Purple were the pole beans we planted this year to add some more color to the garden and canning.

Lettuce:  As our early spring greens begin to get too bitter to eat, we have a heat tolerant salad mix for the summer.

Watermelon:  We had to put in a couple watermelon plants, because come on what is summer without a fresh juicy watermelon?

So there you have it, a full garden in need of water and sunshine.  Happy Planting!