I was recently asked how we choose the varieties of plants we grow. So I thought I’d share how we determine who’s a Hit and who’s a Miss.
The average gardener’s mailbox starts filling up with loads of seed catalogs in early January. When you grow plants for a living you can multiply that number of catalogs by a zillion. Just how in the world do we get on so many darn mailing list? Quite frankly, it can sometimes feel completely overwhelming! I know, I know, I could just look through my fave’s and recycle the rest, but there’s always that nagging thought…. ‘What if I miss something that’s completely spectacular’? So I spend months plodding through them all.
At first glance flowers are fairly easy to choose. It’s easy to dog ear almost every color filled page of a seed catalog, especially when they show up in the dark dreary days of winter! You know that’s really good marketing on their part. After being cooped up in the house by old man winter who doesn’t want to grow one of EVERYTHING? As I excitedly hand off the now drool soaked catalogs to Paul he agrees that yes I’ve chosen some dandy’s and then politely asks where I think we’re going to grow all of these beauties?
Time for a reality check. We only have so much room in the greenhouses, so of course we can’t add that many new varieties.
O.K., reluctantly I admit it. He’s the voice of reason in more areas of our lives than I probably will ever know. (And yes babe, I’m thankful!)
With reality set in, we sit down together and begin to look at more than just those luscious pictures and make lists according to their hardiness ratings. That is, the ones we can still read and whose ink hasn’t blurred through all the drool.
After we begin seeding and growing them on we watch for how fussy they can be. Some things like Lewisia are worth the extra effort. They are so spectacular in bloom that we can forgive their persnickety demands during propagation.
Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder. Some things we grow may not be our favorites, but they may be someone else’s. I had to learn that the hard way the year I chose not to grow any pink petunias. I don’t particularly care for pink. Sorry Mom, but I think you’re partly to blame for this one. I know it was all done with the utmost love, but my childhood room looked like a bottle of Pepto Bismol had just exploded!
I didn’t think any one would miss pink petunias, especially since we had so many other colors to choose from. Boy, was I wrong. Chalk that one up to a lesson well learned and yes, I’ve since made my peace with the color pink.
As for vegetable varieties, we scrutinize a bit more. You may read about some fabulous winter squash that does terrific in one of the Southern states, but our season here probably isn’t long enough to pull it off with any measurable success. Paul & I are passionate about growing vegetables. Some we consider ‘hits’ & others ‘misses’. If a variety doesn’t cut the mustard in our own gardens, we quit offering it through the nursery. We’ve been gardening together in a cold pocket at the base of Hope Mountain for over 22 years. We’ve trialed oodles of varieties. We look for types that correspond well to our climate and of course it’s an absolute necessity that they taste good! Who cares how early a tomato produces if it’s flavorless? You might as well buy those plastic looking tomatoes they sell in the grocery store and save yourself some work.
So, what are your favorite varieties ? If you have something you love to grow here in Southern Oregon that we don’t offer, let us know so we can give it a try.