Our crop planning for 2020 is complete.
The seeds have arrived.
Here is a summary …
- winter squash – 16 varieties (down from 28 last season)
- eggplant – 19 kinds (down from 39 in 2018)
- lettuce – 22 (compared with 14 last year)
- hot peppers – 47 (up from 32)
- tomatoes – 92 varieties (84 in 2019)
In total, we have seeds for 450 varieties of 44 different vegetables. To be honest, not all those seeds will hit the dirt. We might run out of time, or space, or forget about some of them (it happens!). Occasionally common sense will prevail and someone (usually Amy) will question if we really need to grow 12 kinds of zucchini or 17 different bok choys or 11 varieties of bitter melon …
So why do we grow so many different things?
- Our customers expect it! At market, people often stop by just to see what’s new & different, and our CSA members consistently ask for more variety.
- Insurance against the weather. Different vegetables thrive in different conditions. Even amongst tomatoes for example, some prefer drier conditions, while others want wetter, or hotter, cooler … Since we can’t predict what the upcoming season will be like, we grow varieties for all conditions knowing at least some will flourish.
- We grow different crops for the different seasons. Snow peas & broccoli grow best in spring when the temperatures are cooler. But there are new broccolis that can take some summer heat so we might try those too. There are spinach & bok choy varieties developed for the weather conditions of each season so instead of 1 kind, we will grow 3 or 4 to have a season-long harvest. Spring radishes & fall radishes are very different vegetables each suited to their seasons.
- Diversity is beneficial for the farm ecosystem.
- Having many different crops makes better use of the soil. Carrots and other root crops grow deep into the soil, drawing their nutrients & moisture from lower than lettuce and other shallow rooted vegetables which gather their energy from closer to the surface.
- Lettuce & other leafy greens do not require as much sunshine and are happy growing in the shade of taller sun-loving plants – especially in the heat of the summer.
- Each vegetable will attract different insects – both beneficial & harmful to itself & its neighbours. The cucumber & squash beetles that decimated our 1st planting of zucchini last year were not much of an issue in the winter squash patch because there were tomatoes, sunflowers and fields of other crops separating them. Had we grown only squashes, the insects would have had an unlimited feast and we would have been tempted to resort to pesticides to stop the devastation.
- The rows of edible flowers we grew attracted so many bees which then pollinated other vegetables growing nearby.
- These are just a few examples of diversity making the farm more efficient, productive and eco-friendly.
- We love colour!
- I have a short attention span & get bored easily. Growing so many various vegetables keeps things interesting.
And here’s what becomes of all those seeds of all those different vegetables …