I often joke with customers that ordering seed is the hardest part. With over 650 varieties in our catalog and endless ways of growing them all, the freedom can sometimes be stifling. Of course, so can the heat in July. Now is a time to breathe deeply and think clearly about what lies ahead.
We find it prudent to keep these things in mind as we’re planning for the coming season:
Grow what grows well.
Learn about what is best suited for growing in your soil. If you’ve got a variety that works, stick to it. I make a habit of taking an occasional walk through our garden to note only what’s working well.
Grow what you like to eat.
I find great importance in enjoying the fruits and vegetables of our labor. If you could eat spinach everyday, get busy – it worked for Popeye. It doesn’t matter how good broccoli is for you, don’t grow broccoli if it won’t be eaten. If your customers have never heard of rutabagas, try introducing them slowly.
Grow something you’ve never grown.
Everyone remembers their first good melon harvest. You’ll never like okra until you try it. You may be surprised, or at least you can rule it out.
Grow out of season.
Try planting late season greens for a mid-winter treat or head lettuce under tunnels for an early springtime harvest. Take a look at Eliot Coleman’s Winter Harvest Handbook to take your season extension to the next level.
Grow a cover crop.
Cover crops can fix nitrogen, eradicate weeds, control erosion, add organic matter, reduce soil compaction, and increase water retention. Take a look at Cornell University’s Cover Crops Decision Tool to learn more about how cover crops can work for you.
Grow something for seed.
With each generation, an open-pollinated variety can become further adapted to the unique environmental challenges it faces. By growing your own seed you are fostering genetics that perform well in your own garden, and saving your pennies in the meantime. Read more in Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth, or check out some of our resources. (http://www.highmowingseeds.com/cultural-disease-and-seed-saving-information.html)
Grow a trial.
We grew nearly 1000 varieties in our 4-acre trials field last year, evaluating each for taste, pest and disease resistance, yield, etc. Try growing a few different varieties side by side and see what you like the best.
Grow storage crops.
Eat your carrots and keep them too. Extend your homegrown vegetable season for as long as possible with foods that keep. With proper temperatures and humidity levels, many crops can store deep into the winter months and beyond.
Grow your soil.
A good harvest starts with good, fertile soil. Take a look at SARE’s publication titled Building Soils for Better Crops to learn more about nutrient cycling and ecological soil management.
Grow a new variety.
More than any time before, our catalog fully demonstrates our commitment to providing a diverse selection of quality varieties for organic growers. We have over 70 new varieties this season, including some from our small but influential plant-breeding team.
Grow some for your neighbor.
Now more than ever there exists a need for a diverse and decentralized food system. Count your neighbor in for root crops this year and trade for a day’s work, a good pie, or a friendly wave.
I strive to make the bees welcome and my mother proud.
Wherever you are on the map, your first planting gets closer every day, if you haven’t already started. Surely I’m not the only one looking forward to the coming months. Enjoy the long evenings of springtime and keep us in your Rolodex.