February 23, 2006

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Planning the Garden ~ Planting for a Purpose...

We have entirely too, too many choices of both suppliers of and varieties of both flowers and veggies to plant in our gardens, especially compared to even ten years ago. When it comes to tomatoes, onions, peppers, and definitely, corn, that array of choices can be overwhelming, not fun at all.

I always start by considering the purpose of my planting. Tomatoes: do I want them to eat out-of-hand, to can, for sauce, for juice, to winter-keep or even to dry. Do I need to look at the low-acid tomatoes, or would I like to try some of the heirlooms? Am I going to plant extra for the local plant-a-row-for-the-hungry program? Each of these purposes may be best served by specific varieties, with certain maturities and other unique characteristics.

And, no, I'm not generally going to recommend specific varieties because what grows best in my micro-climate here in Maine may not be best for a field even ten miles inland, let alone in another state!

Okay, let's look at onions... My primary crop will be for winterkeep and here I will state a preference: I've not found a better keeing onion than copra. Other than that, I do want a few of the big, mild white ones, a few red ones for fresh salsa, and lots of sturdy ones for canning in sauces, relishes, for the multi-vegetable juice I make. You make want some of the small spicy cocktail onions or even the small whites for pickling.

Corn... well, the maturity time is perhaps the first consideration here. But, after that, the use is really important as some certainly freeze better than others, while you may want lots of bi-color for eating fresh. And, thinking ahead, will you want nice tall cornstalks for fall decorations too??

Anyway, you can see what I'm saying here. What I end up doing is making a list of the veggies I want, the purposes I'll grow them for, and THEN, and only then, will I start making my buying list. There's lots of veggies I didn't even touch, and then the flowers are another whole story altogetter, one I'll look at next time!



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