Lifestyle · Uncategorized

Potting Shed: Planning for the 2018 Farmhouse Garden

Seeds for plantingEvery January it hits – Seed Fever! The seed catalogs start to arrive and I spend hours pouring over every page. I dream of ruby red tomatoes ripe on the vine, perky carrots, and brilliant chards. With eager anticipation I place my seed order and plan out every square inch of my garden space with the militant precision of a 5-Star General.

As the owner of TangleLeaf Farm, where many of the ingredients for Brown Barn Botanicals beautiful skincare products originate, you’d think I’d be tired of gardening. But that is not the case. I was bit by the gardening bug at a young age and never recovered.

In 2017 Brown Barn conducted a customer survey asking our customers what they would like to see more of from Brown Barn Botanicals in the future. The top request was for us to share more about our life on the Farm including tips for Gardening, Decor, and Home. With this in mind, I thought I’d kick off the ‘Brown Barn Life’ initiative by sharing what I plan to grow in my personal Farmhouse Garden in 2018.


I opt for Organic seeds wherever possible to ensure I am getting non-GMO seeds. I’m not especially against GMO seeds, its just that I like the idea of using varieties that are more likely true to original form and I love heritage varieties. And of course I am limited to shorter day varieties that will mature in our Zone 4 location.

johnnys catalogThis year I ordered a lot of our seeds from Johnny’s Select Seeds out of Maine. I really like this company and have been ordering from them off and on over the years. This year I noticed a larger amount of Organic choices as well.

When choosing what to grow I try to concentrate on my personal goals first. This year it’s all about losing weight healthfully, gut health, and skincare. Ingredients loaded with anti-oxidants and vitamins and nutrients for skincare are at the top of my list, along with flavorful and colorful varieties that will keep our interest and make working with them fun.

My list might look a little short in some areas. Because we are so limited in personal time, I choose to grow items I know we’ll use regularly. I opt to shop the Farmers Markets for items I don’t use regularly, such as Red Cabbage and Fennel. And even though we have our own glass greenhouse I opt to purchase my Tomato and Pepper plants in Spring from a local nursery because our Glasshouse gets filled quickly with cuttings for the professional gardens and hanging baskets for the Farm.

What’s on my Farmhouse Garden seed list for 2018?

pexels-photo-206721.jpegA huge variety of Greens. There is nothing better than fresh lettuce from the garden! We eat giant salads for lunch at least five times a week so lettuce stocks a large part of my fridge in Winter. I always look forward to the tastier fresh Summer lettuces and greens from our garden and greenhouse. My seed mix this year contains mixed micro-greens that will be housed in our greenhouse (more on that in a later post), mixed cutting greens, spinach, and premium salad greens mix. I find I prefer the salad seed mixes over straight varieties. This provides me lots of things to snip and choose from and keeps our Salads from becoming dull over the summer.

Leafy Greens for Cooking. ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss Chard, ‘Starbor’ Kale, ‘Joi Choi’ Pac Choi, Chinese Cabbage and green Cabbage are on the list this year.

Root Vegetables. Carrots, Rutabaga, Sweet and White Onions, Bunching Onions, Parsnip, Celeriac, and Potatoes. For potatoes I love Yukon Gold and this year I included some Russian Banana for roasting.

The Good Stuff. (Otherwise known as vegetables.) ‘Provider’ Round Beans, ‘Jumbo’ Flat Beans (because we had these in our garden when I was a child and now I crave them!), Snow Crown Cauliflower (I generally do terribly with Cauliflower and Broccoli but my husband, Steve, has assured me he’ll be able to grow them this year – we’ll see.), a super cool looking green Cauliflower called ‘Puntoverde’, Sweet Corn, and Sugar Snap Peas.

Vining and Twining Goodies. Cucumbers, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, ‘Carnival’ Acorn Squash, ‘Flying Saucer’ mini squash, and Melons. Last year we had a terrible blight in our Vines that resulted in our vining plant garden producing only a few pumpkins. I’ve not yet figured out what happened and am hoping never to see that occur again! This year we’re moving the entire vine and pumpkin patches to a different location.

pexels-photo-209519.jpegThe Fun Stuff! My favorites! Pumpkins and Gourds! I’m not into growing giant pumpkins – instead I love all the odd balls that make Fall decorating so much fun. ‘Knuckle Head’ lumpy pumpkins, ‘Rouge Vif D’Etampes’ Cinderella style pumpkins, ‘Caperita’ small whites, the beautiful sculpted looking ‘Musque de Provance’, and the bumpy blue ‘Marina Di Chioggia’ headline the list along with the old standards of Dill’s Atlanic Giant and Champion for carving. With this I throw in some mixed varieties of decorative gourds and mini-pumpkins. This year Steve informed me he’s building a wire tunnel so I’ve added Birdhouse/Bottle Gourds to grow on the tunnel.

Herbs. I know – I know…we own an Herb Farm what do I need with more herbs? Our field grown varieties of Rosemary, Lavender, Chamomile, and more are great for tea and cooking but they are focused more on what works for Skincare infusions. I supplement with cooking varieties including Cutting Celery, Cilantro, Dill, a ton of Basil for making Pesto, and Parsley. Beyond this I have a huge collection of perennial Thyme, Mints, Chives, etc. to harvest.

cosmos-flower-cosmos-flower-bloom-51942.jpegJust for Me. For years I’ve been telling Steve that I would like to install a cut flower garden. At one point we even considered growing to sell bunches in our storefronts but we always ran out of time. This year I’m ahead of the game with a pre-prepped bed and have ordered a variety of fun annuals so I can make bouquets to enjoy in the Farmhouse all summer and hopefully into Fall. Cosmos, Bells of Ireland (which I never have luck with but always try to grow!), Delphinium, Larkspur, Didiscus, Gomphrena, Nigella, Scabiosa, Salvia, and Zinnia are all on the list along with a blend of wildflowers that will be installed near our bee hives. I thought the Busy Bees deserved a little “somethin’ somethin'” for all their hard work.

So that’s our Farmhouse Garden seed list for 2018! The next step is to plan the plots so I can show Steve where to add and what to till fresh in Spring. For now I think I’ll just accept this order when it arrives and tuck it away in a cool dark spot Steve won’t be likely to enter – no sense in stressing him out until Spring!

Happy Gardening!

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