08 July 2007

Planning Summer Crops

Planning for Summer

For once I feel like I'm getting ahead of the curve.  My usual Summer planting: a haphazard sowing of tried-and-trusted favourites, interspersed with a motley assortment of new varieties I just couldn't resist.  Result: Not enough beds, seed-trays of plants unused, packets of seed growing old, unopened, in the seed cupboard.

Not this year!  Took advantage of some crappy weather yesterday (and back muscles complaining about the previous day's exertions) to draw up plant-lists...  all the things I'd like to grow in the coming Summer season.  A primary goal is to identify "gaps" -- the things I always see halfway through the growing season, and say, "I wish I had planted..."

I'm also having to triage my New Variety Lust pretty ruthlessly...

Missing Links

I'll write up my planting-list soon, for anyone who is interested.  I would really like some advice on good varieties.  Bear in mind that, come Spring and Summer, I'm dealing with a warm, humid climate, and a heavy clay-loam soil.  Water supply can be a problem, depending on our luck with the weather.  Meanwhile, here's what I am looking for:

Tomatoes: I have about 8 or 10 varieties planned, but could well do with another couple of smaller and medium-sized varieties -- salad, paste and drying tomatoes. (I'm planning to build a solar dehydrator, since our climate really puts a crimp in sun-drying.)

Beans and Peas: I have a couple of good varieties of field-beans for drying, but would like to add Pinto beans.  I am looking for one or two (or three) kinds of Snap or Snow Peas, preferably in interesting colours, should I get into supplying gourmet salad stuff (which is a possibility I'm contemplating.)  Chickpeas I'll probably source from the Health Food section of the supermarket.  I'm also looking for some sort of Pea suited to drying and making Pea Flour (Channa Flour.)

Squash/Pumpkin: Looking for an "edible seed" variety so we can harvest Pumpkin seed for breads and snacks. In general Squashes and Pumpkin are difficult subjects, here, since they get nailed by Pumpkin Fly, so all Squashie crops have to be netted, and the netting is damn expensive, limiting how many of these plants I can realistically grow.

Carrots: I would just love more varieties.  We have so few Carrot varieties available locally, all orange, and I'd really love to get some of the more colourful ones.

Peppers, Sweet and Hot: I already plant too many Chilli varieties.  (Nonsense!  There's no such thing as too many Chillis!)  I still need a hot, thin-walled variety suitable for drying and crushing.  Flavour is, of course, the key.  I can easily get seed for Long Red Cayenne, but the flavour is so boring that they're not worth the bother.  I'd also like to get New Mex "Big Jim" back again!  Then, too, I want to make an effort to branch out into Sweet Peppers a bit this year; something I've never much bothered with before.  I did have a very lovely tasting variety called Sweet Banana -- beautiful colour changes, too -- but managed to lose them in The Great Crossing of 2002.  I'd love to get them again.  I'm not much interested in the ordinary California Wonder type of blocky Peppers you get in the supermarkets, mass-grown in tunnels and sold in Red-Yellow-Green packs -- they don't taste like much at all.

WatermelonSmaller ones.  I've not grown watermelon before, but only because I've not had a way to keep them from the insect pests before now.

Onions:  Locally available Onion varieties are very limited and boring, being completely oriented to the large commercial growers.  I am particularly looking for a large/sweet/mild variety good for salads.


There's loads more I want, but I'm  not going to get.  As it is, I'm already preparing new beds, and clearing new ground for field-scale crops, and we still have most of Winter to get through.

Please help with advice and suggestions!  Open-pollinated only, please.  Heirlooms greatly preferred.
If, for any reason, comments are not working properly, or you just prefer to let me know privately what you think, please drop me a line at mikro2nd [at] gmail [dot] com.

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