2012 Patio Garden Plan

Every year I try to grow some of my own vegetables.  It’s a fun spring/summer hobby and can help save a little money.  Plus who doesn’t love the freshness of just-picked fruits or vegetables?  Last year being my first year in Chicago I only grew a few items.  Some of these were annual vegetables and some were perennial fruits.  Since it takes years for fruits to come to maturity I knew those wouldn’t really do anything and except for a few strawberries, and by a few I mean three, neither my strawberries or blueberry produced.  My two green bell peppers, however, produced three harvests and I had green pepper for months.  This year I am keeping the Northcountry blueberry plant which is in it’s sophomore year and the strawberries, although I might switch out my Junebearing for an Everbearing variety so I don’t have an all-at-once harvest.  I wanted to detail what my plans are for this season.

Northcountry Blueberry
I purchased this last year from Stark Bro’s and was very satisfied with it.  This is a special type of blueberry known for it’s ability to be a potted/patio blueberry as it doesn’t take up much space.  It takes a few years before these bushes actually start to produce and they require a decent amount of maintenance so I probably have a few more years before I start seeing blueberries.  The buds are already starting to swell and this year the blueberry is established and once it is fertilized again with the special blueberry fertilizer that is specially formulated for blueberries it’ll really start growing.

Last year I planted two strawberry plants and they grew a bunch and produced very few strawberries.  The problem is I didn’t buy Everbearing strawberries so the season is very short.  Instead of a bunch of strawberries all at once I’d like a few strawberries throughout a few months, so I’ll likely take these up and replant Everbearing.

Last year I planted two green pepper plants.  They were a specific variety called ‘Big Bertha’ and were supposed to create giant peppers.  The problem is I have two plants in pots which automatically limits the size of the produce.  The plants did produce a ton of peppers for many months but I had so many green peppers for myself and others that we quickly had too many.  This year I am still going to plant two pepper plants but one will be a red pepper and one will be green.  The green pepper will not be the same variety I’ll just opt for a normal variety.  Both the red and green pepper will be purchased at a store in potted form.

Spacemaster Cucumber
This year I am also going to expand my garden to allow for cucumbers.  I don’t have a lot of space since these are container-growing situations so I opted to purchase seeds from Burpee for this situation.  The pre-grown plants typically aren’t special varieties like this so this Spacemaster cucumber should work out perfectly.  This shouldn’t take up more than a few feet of space both wide or tall and will still produce eight-inch-long cucumbers.  It had great reviews and my neighbors also plant cucumbers so I shouldn’t have trouble with pollination.

Green Beans
I love green beans!  The grocery stores around here often don’t have fresh green beans that are any good so I thought this time I’d try to grow some of my own.  These are a special variety of Blue Lake called Blue Lake 47 Bush Bean from Burpee which don’t require a trellis and only grow to 10-15 inches wide.  I plan to grow three of these plants in a long pot.  I’ve never tried to grow beans before so this will be a totally new experience for me.  These were also purchased in seed form from Burpee since most stores don’t carry pre-grown beans.

That’s my entire patio garden for this season.  I’m sure I’ll post updates once I receive the seeds, sprout them, plant everything else, and get everything potted and going.  I predict this won’t start until sometime in May.

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Overdue Update

I somewhat expected to have long spans where I didn’t write in this but months seems a bit long.  Winter has been rather lacking from what I expect from a typical winter but I’m not sure if I’m happy or upset about it.  On the one hand I don’t have to walk to the train in the snow and weather and it hasn’t been cold to the extreme (note: it has been cold) but on the other hand it isn’t very much like winter these days.  It’s the first part of February and I think Chicago has received only a few measurable snow falls this season.  I do look forward to the snow each winter and I think the worse the winter is the more apt I am to be excited for spring and summer.  I’m looking forward to playing outside this spring and summer but I have to ask myself if I am looking forward to it as much as if we had a bunch of snow this winter.  As mild as it has been I can’t imagine more winter weather this year.  It’s been in the 50s the past week or so which is highly unusual.

Anyway this update is short to say that I am still around and I’ll hopefully get back into the writing mood from time to time.  I am also going to start reading my next book, Jim Cramer’s Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World.

Jim Cramer - Real MoneyWhy am I reading this?  I’ve read this book before but I want to get a refresher in his books because my 401k starts at work soon so I want to be prepared to make the appropriate decisions.  The stock market is fascinating to me.  I’ve played around with it a little bit and I’ve had some success in it.  I just don’t devote enough time or money to make it really worth my while.

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