- Vermont Cranberry Beans
- Collard Greens
- Fingerling Potatoes
- Spaghetti Squash
- Brussels Sprouts
- Red Onions
Every plant humbly begins as a tiny seed sometimes no larger than the tip of your fine ballpoint pen. In combination with soil, moisture, sun and air the seed transformation takes place as it morphs into a full grown plant in a blink of an eye. Each seed has it’s own genetic coding that determines taste, color, size, texture, storability, yields, quickness to maturity, disease resistance and weather tolerance. Within one specific vegetable group, e.g. lettuce, there can be hundreds of varieties that all display different qualities.
During the rainy, dark winter months the farmer’s job is to sort through the large stack of seed catalogues to determine which varieties will be best for the upcoming season. When choosing what to plant, there are many things to consider. Some seed will do better in the hot summer months, while other varieties are bre
d to survive the cold of the early spring. If at all possible we look for varieties that perform well under a diversity of weather conditions, so when we have a week of 75 degree days in March and then quickly drop back down to the low 40’s, the plants are ready for it. Resiliency is the key.
Plants that can outcompete disease, pests, high weed pressure, and harsh weather conditions are all essential. Understanding your soil and climate is important so that the right seeds can be grown on your farm.
Plant breeder, Frank Morton, is famous for his “hell’s half acre” where he puts seed varieties through the wringer in order to test plants resiliency. To select for the best seed he will grow plants in his weediest, disease ridden field. He will plant them too close together, deprive them of water or over water them. In most cases he loses 95% of the plants due to these stressors, which seems like a bad thing. But what he is successfully doing is selecting for the most hardy genetics and saving seed from those plants.
As organic farmer’s we are looking for those strong genetics that can produce successful crops despite any adverse conditions that may arise. And most importantly have food that is full of flavors, colors, and textures that make eating enjoyable. As we are selecting seeds for this year we invite you to give input on varieties or vegetables that you enjoy. Whether they are something new that we haven’t grown before or varieties that you especially liked from last year.
Enjoy this week’s vegetables!