• Garden Experiments 2014

    by  • May 29, 2014 • Featured, Gardening & Pets • 9 Comments

    I don’t believe much of anything that doesn’t have some evidence to go along with it. Maybe I have issues with authority, or maybe I’m too well-trained as a scientist, but sometimes I don’t even believe evidence provided by other people. I like to test things myself.

    potato leaves

    The garden is my experimental lab. I tested the ‘potato towers grow twenty times more potatoes’ theory, twice, and now definitively believe that the only advantage of potato towers is ease of harvest.

    Two years ago, I sought proof for the garlic growing wisdom that one should remove the scape for the garlic plant to produce a bigger bulb. I planted a large patch of seed garlic. I split the patch down the middle and removed half the garlic scapes for cooking – they usually come up in early June – and left the rest as is. They grew beautiful flowers. At harvest time, we saw clearly that the plants with scapes removed produced bigger bulbs.

    garlic scapes comparison

    2014 Garden Experiments

    This year, I’ve set up trials to answer these garden-related questions:

    1. Which is better for production – organic seed garlic from out of state or high quality, locally grown garlic? I planted three varieties of garlic from multiple producers to answer this question. I am running the trial in two separate locations to eliminate location variables.
    2. Are seed potatoes worth the cost? Organic culinary potatoes sprout readily and have grown well for me before. I question whether $6/pound seed potatoes are any better than sprouted $2/pound organic grocery potatoes. Because of the availability of seed stock, I wasn’t able to choose varieties to directly compare but we can still measure yield from the four varieties planted (one seed stock, one grocery store and two saved over from last year’s planting).
    3. Can I grow artichokes in Ohio? If so, where? I grew four varieties of artichoke from seed and am planting them in locations around the garden including in the hoop house, the hugelkultur, and in regular beds.  Alex and I fondly remember artichokes from our year living in Monterey, California and we would love to have a source of fresh artichokes again.

    artichoke seedling

    Experimenting in the garden excites me and gives me a chance to explore my limits while learning new things to pass on to others.

    What are your garden experiments this year?

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    I live to eat and eat to live, planning every meal to include as much local and seasonal abundance as possible. My favorite color is purple, my favorite vegetable is whatever is fresh and local, and my favorite drink is whatever you're pouring. Follow me @racheltayse


    9 Responses to Garden Experiments 2014

    1. Kelly S
      May 29, 2014 at 9:09 am

      While I don’t know if it truly counts as an experiment, we’re trying the “can we plant gooseberry bushes and not have them die before we get fruit” thing.
      I wish I had a green thumb, but I don’t really lol.

      • May 29, 2014 at 9:39 am

        Ha! I guess my experiment with gooseberries will be if I can get to the berries before another critter – they’re already mostly gone and not even ripe yet!

        • Kelly S
          May 29, 2014 at 9:52 am

          That gives me hope that they’ll at least grow here in our area (I live near Hilliard).
          We’re still in the beginning stages of putting a garden together, we’ve only lived here a year, and have a 10 month old little boy.

    2. Cat Erney
      May 29, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      I am espalier ing a dwarf gala apple on the side of my garage. Read multiple books on it, still felt a moment of dread when I started pruning. I’ll let you know how it turns out in four years.

      • May 30, 2014 at 8:03 am

        Oooh, good luck. Pruning is always difficult for me too – I feel like I’m hurting a good friend!

    3. derm
      June 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Yes you can grow artichokes in Ohio. I use the short season seed variety of which the name escapes me, from Johnnie’s. Start indoors under the lights in January. They start with a single massive globe on the main stem, then each progressive shoot gets smaller throughout the season until you are harvesting multiple baby artichokes until the season ends. They have a very large spread, roughly 36″ diameter per plant.

      • June 10, 2014 at 8:52 am

        I’m sure I planted mine too closely but I’ll thin if necessary. I’m excited to taste Ohio artichokes!

    4. Elizabeth
      June 9, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      I started artichokes in my hoophouse in the spring of 2012. They were the variety sold by Johnny’s seeds that are supposed to produce within the first year. They didn’t for me, but they overwintered in the hoophouse (I live in Waldo, Ohio) without any problems, and we had a wonderful, long-lasting crop of baby artichokes. I had high hopes for continued artichoke production, but this winter of ’13-’14 was too much for them. The overnight temps in the hoophouse were down to -11F, and the artichokes couldn’t handle it even under two layers of row cover.

      • June 10, 2014 at 8:51 am

        That’s good feedback to know. I planted some in the hoop house to see if they’ll overwinter but I do think it depends on what kind of winter we have!

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