Sunday, 27 January 2013

Tried and True? Or Something New?

For me, gardening is all about the growing and the trailing.
I love to grow the tried and true, varieties that I have already grown and found to meet or beat standards.
However, I also like to trial new plants and new varieites of plants.

Why? because I know that I will discover the best heirloom varieties to grow on the west coast, through much trial and error! 

I also know that even though I find those 'best' varieties, I will still keep testing others, ones that are new ... to me!

As there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of heirlooms out there, just waiting for me to try them out and maybe to carry them on :)

I get such a thrill simply from growing and trialing.
For me, it is not about how well it produces, never has been.
Is all about the thrill of the challenge, growing something and watching it perform.

Growing and trying anything and everything ... new plants, new varieties, new styles, new colours... whether it is tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, or zinnias, snapdragons, petunias and geraniums...

Last summer I grew an eggplant, the Morden Midget. First time ever! It was lovely! ... produced like mad, was simple to grow, and tasted great, not one bitter one in the bunch. This year, I will grow the Morden Midget, but I will also try one or two other varieties, to see how they compare!

Why? Because right now, I know that I can, and do, highly recommend the Morden Midget for growing here on the island. However, as I know nothing about growing any other variety of eggplant, I am limiting my customers with my limited knowledge.

Each year I learn a little bit more about anything and everything I can think of growing. If I only stuck to the same things each year, I would never learn anything new, would never know if there was a variety that thrives better in our area, tastes better, looks better, brings in more pollinators, etc...

By growing many types of cucumbers last summer, I found that there is only one out of the entire bunch that I would highly recommend in our area.

The variety I recommend in the PNW, that grew well and had great production in a pretty crappy year is the Early Russian. It can be picked young and used as a pickling cuke, or left on the vine till larger and eaten as a slicer,
It had none of the powdery mildew problems which many of the others had, and some even succumbed to (yes, they died from the powdery mildew!).
It was never, ever bitter! Not one bitter cuke all year!
Imagine what it can do in a great cucumber if it did this well in a terrible one?

By trialing about 43 different varieties of tomatoes last year, I was able to pick out ones that did well in our PNW weather during a terrible growing year, and which ones to not grow again.

Each year I grow my favourite outdoor tomatoes, my favourite greenhouse tomatoes, as well as friends and customers favourites.

Then I test run another 20 or more new varieties to find yet more favourites for me and my customers.

And through this all, I keep in mind, that gardening is not an exact science. No year will ever be the same, the same temperatures, same humidity, same rain or lack thereof ... Each year is a brand new experiment, a brand new joy, a new learning experience.
It is so not a job to us garden fanatics, but a truly joyful endeavour.
And... some years are simply better than others.


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