Our crazy weather has its benefits. One day, we wake to white pastures and freezing temperatures. Within a day or two, it’s in the mid to upper 70’s and we have to use a knife to get out of bed, just to cut through the humidity. It’s on those warm days that I itch to get outside – and I do.

I just finished planting the seeds for my garden. I am a few weeks late in getting it done, but our weather just has not seen fit to cooperate. Still, I took advantage of the first opportunity, and the job is done!

On the Paradise Plantation Garden Menu:

Martino’s Roma; Black Beauty; Granny Cantrell German Red; and, when the seeds get here I will be planting Principe Borghese

Quadrato D’Asti Giallo; Etiuda; Emerald Giant; Ashe County Pimiento; Tam Jalapeno

The odds and ends (those of which I don’t plant multiple varieties) are: Lemon Squash; Clemson Spineless Okra; Contare Snap Beans; Buhl Sweet Corn; and Piccolo Provenzale peas.

I also have a potato bed, in which I will be growing one row of Peruvian Blue and the rest will be Yukon Gold and a generic red potato. Our weather was just not conducive to plowing up the new plot for the potatoes, and my gardening soul got restless. While at The General Store in Castor, I spied a sack of Lasota Red Potatoes. My mind instantly flew to a conversation I had with a neighbor about planting potatoes in a barrel. I didn’t have a barrel, but I knew I had plenty on hand to simulate one. So, I grabbed the small bag and left smiling.

It took two eight-foot pieces of left over panel, a cutting torch, a shovel, some newspaper and a couple of hours to complete my trial potato bin. The Country Boy cut both pieces into four-foot sections. I laid newspaper down on the ground, then shoveled compost out of the barn (aged and broken down hay and manure). I planted sixteen eyes in a grid, then covered them with more dirt. Since it was scheduled to rain later that evening, I didn’t even bother to haul the water hose around. Within a few hours, Nature did the watering for me!

I did order a couple of fall items as well – onions and Marmaletta Winter Squash, which is really a pumpkin. It advertised that it was a sweet squash, and used for Pumpkin jam. That is not something I have ever tried, but was just curious enough to order a pack of seeds. Those, along with other pumpkins and fall veggies will be going in sometime around July. (If anyone has ever made or eaten the pumpkin jam and/or preserves, PLEASE let me know how they taste!!!)


The seeds were planted in the smaller tin foil roasting pans with a seed starting mixture. I like these pans as they are easy to use, I can separate out the different seeds, they are lightweight, and reusable. These are probably five years old, and look as if they can go another five. I put a heating mat down on pavers that make up the bottom of my cold frame, then placed my seeds on top of that. Today, the temperature in the cold frame is 80 degrees, and it is overcast with a threat of rain, so I don’t have to worry about plugging in the heat mat yet. However, it will have to be checked every day, sometimes several times, to monitor the temp. Give them about a week, and they should be popping their little green heads above the soil. With all the seeds I planted, I know I will have quite a few of each variety to offer for sale.

You may ask why I plant so many varieties of tomatoes and peppers. First, I am in search of the ones that have the best flavor. The second consideration is fresh eating vs canning/freezing. Next I consider the ones that do best in our climate. The last thought goes to saving the seeds successfully. Plus, I just like having a variety of flavors! Each year, I keep a record of which ones I like, and scratch through the ones that don’t like our climate. Then I scour the Bakers Creek and Seeds of Italy catalogs to find the replacements I need.

The only downfall to all of this is that I now have to wait for approximately eight to ten more weeks before I can dig my hands down into the dirt of my garden to plant my seedlings. In the meantime, I will be visiting them every day, and loving every minute of the anticipation!

What’s the Garden Menu at your farm? Even if you only have an urban home or an apartment balcony, you can always farm something, even if it is just a tomato plant and some herbs. Let me know what you are growing – and if you would like, tell me what you like best about that particular thing. I am always looking for new ideas, and know that y’all can always offer up a few things worth checking out!