plotting my plot

For certain edibles, we must have starts here in Montana. It is possible to grow tomatoes from seed in the ground but at the end of the season, one is left with an army of green maters that just didn’t have the time to ripen.

And I decided last year to never ever try to grow starts again because I am always heartbroken over the spindly, light-starved little guys who eventually die. They die because I throw ’em in the ground and can’t bring myself to cover and coddle until they can stand on their own. I want them to perk up, suck it up and grow. And they can’t because I didn’t give them a chance in the first place what with starting them out in a window in my living room. So that is my predicament but I have learned that I will never cover and coddle so I might as well save the time, money and disappointment and just buy starts.

The problem with buying starts is that I am at the mercy of the nursery’s decision making–what they choose to grow. Tomatoes are what kill me. I can handle the selection of peppers and squash. I am tired of Early Girl and Brandywine. Not because they aren’t good tomatoes but because I don’t get to pick. I rely on my overzealous seed-starting friends (Linda and Connie) who generously give me a few of their beautiful, greenhouse grown tomatoes. Oh, how I wish I had greenhouse.

This year, I want to pick my tomatoes. So, this means starting from seed myself. And that means I need to find a corner in a greenhouse or build one. And because I am building a chicken house without the help of my carpenter husband (he doesn’t want me to get chickens because I will no doubt fall in love with them and they live for like 12 years and then what do we do with arthritic geriatric chickens who don’t lay eggs when we move or travel. I prefer to not think about this and cross that bridge when we get there. This is a key difference between the two of us–he plots and plans and I just do. But he eats at least two eggs a day so I think I can talk him into helping me.) I think I should probably borrow a spot in a greenhouse.

And because my plot is painfully small, I want to grow in my boulevard. The boulevard in front of our house is grass and knapweed and I refuse to water it because it is a ridiculous waste of space and water. I pulled the knapweed and that is my maintenance. But because it is the right of way, I am supposed to comply with the city code that I just looked up and basically I have to get permission and planted items are supposed to be “ornamental” unless I am “unable to comply because of an extraordinary and peculiar set of circumstances constituting a hardship, or because of a wish to install a type of landscaping not specifically provided for above, but compatible with the surrounding area and in harmony with the public purposes of boulevards…”

So, do I try to get permission or do I hope the city doesn’t care about little ol’ me growing some basil in my boulevard?

In keeping with my aforementioned proclivity to just do instead of plan, I think I will plant in my boulevard. And hope devilish little twerps don’t sabotage my edibles.

Here is what I am planting this year. I am going big:

mesclun spicy salad mix
golden purslane*
rouge d’hiver lettuce
america spinach*
merida carrot*
red core chantenay carrot*
gold nugget tomato (Andy’s fave)
pineapple tomato*
black krim tomato*
manitoba tomato*
chioggia beet*
bull’s blood beet
royal burgundy bush bean*
black seeded blue lake pole bean**
long island brussel sprout**
poinsett cucumber*
sugar sprint pea*
oregon giant pea*
purira chile pepper*
sweet california wonder orange bell pepper
caribe potato**
easter egg II radish*
perpetual swiss chard**
mammoth sweet basil*

* a cultivar I have never grown
** a plant I have never grown

5 Responses to plotting my plot

  1. Patia says:

    Wow, sounds ambitious. I’m impressed. I gave up trying to grow anything but hardy sage and lavender in my pathetic flowerbeds.

    I’m sure you know the Farmer’s Market sells some nice starts …. I love the native plant ladies.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I think planting edibles in the city’s right-of-way is an excellent idea! Rather than water non-native grass or, worse yet, weeds, why not use the land to raise food? You should also try some hardy herbs like Patia’s sage, oregano or tarragon.

  3. Wendy says:

    That’s great that you have friends you might be able to rent some greenhouse space from. I start my seeds under shop lights in the basement. And this year (if I can find some decent sized glass that doesn’t cost a fortune) we’re making cold frames.

    And that really is a very ambitious list of plants. Good luck!

  4. Patia, I agree the market is the place to go for starts. Marchie’s is good too. I heart Helen Atthowe ever since I took her master gardening class.

    Rebecca, If I get busted and need letters of support, can I contact you? heh. Yup, I definitely have the hardy herbs. Love the perennials.

    Wendy, does it work (the set up in the basement)? I have tried so many configurations and am always disappointed. Do tell.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Last year you mentioned having compost in various stages of ‘completion’ — hoping you can expand on your compost techniques and philosophy in a future post. It’s such a nice warm thaw-out day in Missoula today and I’m starting to examine my leaf-strewn lawn and pile of sod…