Chinese New Year’s Garden and Food Resolutions

Or, the What, Where, How, and Why of my gardening for food production, following my motto for 2018.

I don’t have the most expensive chilli, I don’t grow the greatest number of varieties- but I have and work on further developing the right chilli for the foods I cook with that chilli.

For 2018, this year of the (earth) dog in the Chinese calendar, it’s time to go further indeed.

So far, I left the garden mainly as it had come to be, grew a few plants that would become additional ingredients in our dishes. Now, I want to see how far I can get with that.

One part of my motto for this year is to experiment, and experiment I will.

From the garden to the kitchen to the dining table.

What’s the plan?

I have already started a few varieties of chile peppers and begun testing the viability of some old seeds.
Next up, I will grow not only more chilli, but also many more vegetables for which I have or bought seeds.

What do I want to grow?

Chile peppers…
… for my Chinese (Hunan) cooking and for combinations with Sichuan pepper in Sichuan cooking.
Japanese chile peppers for frying and tempura.
Chiltepin and Ancho I simply love and want for baking (in the case of Ancho, not chiltepin ;) ).
Whatever still comes up.

Jiachang Doufu
After all, we need quite a bit of chilli…

Concrete focus: ancho, chiltepin, chilli from Hunan, Shishitou, Manganji, Himo Tougarashi.
(But I also need to check others, like I just mentioned, so I might end up with a lot more varieties. Or not.)

Sichuan pepper (of course; it’s already in the garden, “only” needs to be spread more) and the Japanese pepper (sansho) I started last year.

Leafy greens and other vegetables: various Chinese “salad” greens and cabbages; broad (fava) beans, non-sweet peas, beans (Fort Portal Jade Bean, a white soup bean the name of which I have forgotten), winged(?) bean; long “spaghetti” bean; sponge gourd (loufa), bitter gourd…

Not to forget about the three varieties of rice I tried out last year and do have seed for, from that harvest…

I guess I’ll have a lot to talk about, if I want to – and that is the reason, as you’ll hear in a moment. Not the talking, the “lot”.

Where and how?

Most plants, I still want to grow just in my own backyard garden, but I also still rent another plot of land.
And this year, I intend to make both usable and make good use of both.

There are actually two ways in which I want to work with that:
For one, it should be possible to create some more bits of land that can be used as vegetable patches.
Secondly, I have seen so much vegetable and herb growing in East Asia, in containers ranging from flower pots to styrofoam boxes, I really want to see how far I can get with that.


Additionally, I have begun experimenting with indoor growing using the IKEA Växxer hydroponic system and want to see about experimenting and creating more such growing “systems” (for special plants).

Why do I want to grow many food plants myself?

Not only do I somewhat like gardening and need chilli for my cooking.

There are distinct intersections here:

Need and want

Our cooking needs a lot of chilli, and it needs the right kinds of chilli – which I want to grow myself. Otherwise, they simply aren’t there like that.

Climate change and cultivars

Varieties of food plants need to not just be conserved when they are old heirlooms, or used as they can be bought from professional growers.

With a different kitchen, in different conditions, and with the likelihood that situations will change still further and faster in the future with climate change, it will be good to have a certain stock of seeds with which new local varieties are being grown by oneself.

It’s not only some kind of ecological concerns I am following, though.

Wanting certain kinds and variety

We also want more vegetables we grow ourselves because the most popular varieties otherwise available are all bred to be as sweet as possible, which we do not like.
Moreover, the diversity we like, e.g. of “simple” leafy greens, is simply not available in the supermarkets we have, nor indeed in most farmer’s markets.

Personal finances

There is a financial component to it all, too: I want to find out how much of the food we need we can grow ourselves; how productive I can make the garden.

It’s going to be an interesting year…

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