Our credit card stopped working the other week.
Apparently, when you purchase that much seed, from that many places, all at once, it is flagged as suspicious activity and your card is shut down. Who knew!
Buying seeds signals the official start of the new farming year for us. It means we are finished with the last season and are now looking ahead to the next. That this coincides with the new calendar year just adds to the significance.
Choosing seeds is an important job.
Our entire farm is based on seeds – and the crops those seeds turn into (except for the blackberries – our only perennial crop). So it is imperative that we choose well – quality seeds from dependable seed companies, the right vegetables for our markets, the best varieties for our growing conditions, and the tastiest ones to satisfy our customers.
For 2023 we purchased seed from 10 different companies (plus we save some of our own seed). We will be growing well over 400 varieties of 40 different vegetables, plus about a dozen herbs and more than 25 flowers – mostly edible flowers and sunflowers.
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 want variety.
- Insurance against the weather. Different vegetables thrive in different conditions. Even amongst tomatoes which are warm weather vegetables, we know that some prefer drier conditions, while others like wetter, or hotter, or cooler … Since we can’t predict what the upcoming year will be like, we grow varieties for many weather conditions knowing that at least some will flourish.
- We grow different crops for the different seasons. Radishes, salad turnips & broccoli grow best in spring when the temperatures are cooler. There are different spinach varieties developed for each season so instead of 1 kind, we will grow 3 or 4 to have a longer harvest. The same with bok choy. Zucchini is a hot weather crop while winter squash matures in the cooler conditions of fall.
- 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.
- Each vegetable will attract different insects – both beneficial & harmful. Mixing up the plantings and separating similar vegetables can confuse the bugs and lessen the chances of harmful infestations.
- The rows of edible flowers we grow attract bees & other insects which then pollinate other vegetables growing nearby.
- We love colour!
- I have a short attention span & get bored easily. Growing so many different vegetables keeps things interesting.
Each year we try to grow something new. This year’s choice is cauliflower. And we might attempt Brussels sprouts again (last season we were not particularly successful with them – but we learned what to do better for this season).
We always try out new varieties of vegetables that we are already growing – if they offer something beneficial for us. Perhaps a heat-loving broccoli, or a better tasting bean … But tomatoes are our weakness! They are one of our most important crops and there are soooo many kinds we haven’t tried – but simply must! Dancing With Smurfs is a temptation – if only because of the name – but it is too similar to other kinds we grow so we choose to forgo that one! But other new tomatoes that we are trying include Evil Olive, Queen Of The Night, Pink Champagne and even Clint Eastwood’s Rowdy Red (who names these!).
A quick chat with the nice folks at VISA and our credit card was back up & running. The seed buying frenzy continued…
Most of the seeds have arrived now, and are waiting for spring – it won’t be long!
Happy New Year!
Around the farm …
We are still picking spinach. It’s getting more difficult to find some nice leaves – but they sure taste good!
Before the last snowfall.
And the same fields covered in snow.
Sage waiting for snow – her favourite weather!