“Time Capsule Garden” Revisited

By , February 5, 2010

It’s time to plan for the coming gardening season, which means assessing the previous season. Last year I planted a unique garden with seeds from a vacuum-sealed can packed in 1978.  I called it my “Time Capsule Garden.” Little did I know that it would be an outstandingly warm, dry summer. So much so that I had to ration water and at one point haul water in buckets by canoe from the creek on Mud Bay. But it was very much like the summers I remember at my grandparents place in eastern Washington back in 1978 when these seeds were packed.

I grew Kentucky Wonder pole beans in 5 gallon buckets so I could give them a head start in the greenhouse, then move them out to the garden to grow. They stayed small until August when they finally began vining. On the 11th of August the fall rains began. It was cool and damp then, and the many flowers on the vines never became beans.

I grew peas in the same way. I had two buckets of Time Capsule peas (Progress #9-bush) and two of Sugar Star snap peas packed for 2009. They both did well, though could have been better with more water.

Other bucket crops were “Halloween” pumpkins, Green Hubbard squash, and Italian zucchini—some inside the greenhouse, some in the garden. I thought one pumpkin from the greenhouse was a squash, so I harvested it on July 6th. If I had let it go, it may have been a full sized jack-o-lantern. It turned a beautiful bright orange by September. The Hubbard squash flowered late and I only got zucchini-sized fruits. The zucchini did well in and outdoors. One I grew in a hanging planter had a final fruit on November 1st. We ended up with 6 pumpkins of varying sizes. The four Time Capsule pumpkins were 2 to 4 lbs each and the two sugar pumpkins (grown from third generation saved seed) were about 1.5 lbs each.

In the greenhouse I grew tomatoes (Pearson Improved) alongside four other varieties. The Time Capsule plants were vigorous but flowered later than the others. The fruit was larger and very tasty.

I also grew cucumbers, basil and borage in the greenhouse. The herbs flourished and the cucumber (Improved Long Green) was my first successful cucumber plant. It vined early and produced steadily through the summer. A homegrown salad of sliced cucumber, basil and tomato with a little olive oil made quite a treat.

Outdoors I grew cabbage (Copenhagen Market), cauliflower (Snowball X) and broccoli (green sprouting medium). After we subdued the root maggots with BT and seaweed tea these all grew well. I got a dozen or more cabbages up to 4 lbs in size. The cauliflowers and broccoli were decent sized and did not bolt quickly. They all grew better than varieties I had grown other years.

The carrots (Imperator!) were wonderfully long. I grew them alongside Nantes Coreless, which also did well. Some of the Imperators came out pale to bright yellow but tasted the same.  They were woody during the dry spell, but plumped up nicely after the rains resumed.

The radishes (Cherry Belle) did okay . . . I always end up leaving them longer than I should. Root maggots plagued the turnips (Purple Top White Globe) but we used the leaves in stir fries.

The beets (Detroit Dark Red) grew alongside Chioggia and Early Wonder beets. They all suffered along as usual. I need help growing beets. This was my best year and the largest beets I got were about 2 inches across. The greens were good.

Leafy greens did well too. The spinach (Viroflay) kept up with Bloomsdale and Gigante D’Inverno varieties.  I could not tell any difference in the “Paris Green Cos” and the other romaine I grew. We just had some of the ‘Lucullus’ Swiss Chard recently. It is holding up even in temperatures as low as 29 degrees.

So, how did my garden grow? Not bad all in all. I was able to save seeds from tomatoes pumpkins, and borage. We ate well. That’s what it is all about in the end.

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