All Devon's Mad Garden Experiments

Hi all!
My intention with this thread is to make a journal of sorts where I will post descriptions and pictures of all my landrace experiments in one place. This is probably the only way I can keep organized enough to share with the community what seeds I have and what I’m doing.

I will return at planting time to post more info about each individual crop, including the mix of varieties, past year results, and specific methods and intentions.

General description of the garden:

New Jersey, Zone 7 (formerly zone 6). 160 frost-free days.

Above-national-average precipitation.
Summers are becoming drier and we often have droughts in the growing season, but typically the ground stays wet throughout fall, winter, and spring.

Sandy loam soil.
I am planting in overworked agricultural land with relatively poor drainage, as far as sandy loams go.

No till, minimal dig, direct seeding as much as possible. No irrigation. Weeding when I feel like it. No or minimal fertilizer depending on the crop.

The crops I am breeding:
Chile pepper
Corn (Sweet)
Corn (Grain)
Pole Bean (P. vulgaris)
Hopniss (Apios americana)
Cucurbita moschata
Cucurbita pepo

I am selecting for:
Dry growing season
Wet harvest season
General pest and disease resistance
Direct seed
Early maturity
Lots of seeds
Pretty colors
Partial Shade

Aside from those listed above, I am also planting a bunch of other stuff including C. Maxima, Favas, Chickpeas, Brassica Mix, Amaranth, Sorghum, Sesame, Cacti, Herbs, and Trees.

Thanks for reading and I hope to have lots more info to share soon on all of the above.


I also am using cardboard for site prep. In addition, I’m using repurposed silage tarp. In general I don’t like plastic, but this stuff works just great for passively killing weeds. The silage tarp is faster and easier to lay down than cardboard. You might be able to score some from local farmers after they are done with it.

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Fabas planted today.
This is my first time planting fava beans.
They are the GTS mix for 2023…! because I forgot about them until too late last year.
I’ve put them in the small garden plot where last year I planted corn/beans/squash.

The weather forecast:

The earliest sign of spring around here is the blooming of crocuses. They bloom when hard freezes are still expected for a few more weeks.
When I was a kid crocuses bloomed in March.
This year they started blooming mid- February, and are almost finished for the year.
Last year they bloomed in January!

One week ago on Feb 17:

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I work on a vegetable farm and we have silage tarps, but they are all very much in use at all times, lol!

Favas have germinated, and the 9 elderberry cuttings I planted in fall are waking up.

Now I’m planting Carrots, Reckless Brassica Oleracea Mix, Onion mix, Garbanzos, Peas, Cilantro, Dill, Potatoes, Sunchokes, and Hopniss.
Just moving the cardboard and using a furrowing hoe to make furrows.

Today I transplanted out last year’s potatoes grown from true seed.
The tubers were mostly quite tiny, but I was impressed with a few normal-sized spuds. They all stored excellently in the fridge, even the teeny ones.
In addition to these tubers I collected exactly 4 potato berries.

I’ve also started a new tray of potato seeds in the greenhouse, and I’m going to try direct seeding some TPS later and see what happens.

Transplanted out my favorite fall carrots. They stored ok in the fridge. Perhaps I should have removed the foliage, some of which started to rot in February or March.
I’m in the Carrots in Clay club, although this year they’re going in a sandier spot.
They were taste-tested by variety-- and then from the varieties that tasted decent, I saved the best looking individuals. As they cross in subsequent generations I guess I will have to taste-test individuals and then replant them.