Started at 9am this morning and finished by 4pm! 7 hours and approximately $350 later, I have at least the bulk of what I need to plant our two fields with a diverse variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers. The ordering process was streamlined this year compared to previous years because I followed my notes from last season and stuck to them pretty closely. The process involves a notebook, pencil, seed catalogs and my computer and goes as follows:
First I divide everything I’m going to grow into 4 categories; Greens, Roots, Fruits/Beans, Herbs/Onions. Then I calculate how much of each crop I need to grow by row feet, for example, 90 row feet of peas, 3 successions of 60 feet of salad mix, 100 napa cabbages, which require 50 row feet , etc… Part of my decision is based on how much each CSA member will receive throughout the course of the season and part of it is based on whether the particular crop is also valuable as a market item.
Once I know how much of everything I need I begin browsing the seed catalogs, in print and online simultaneously, filling shopping carts from different companies in different browser tabs, going back and forth to edit when I find a better deal or a better variety. As each item is added to a shopping cart I check it on the list in my notebook. Johnny’s Selected Seeds has very useful growing guides for every crop which can be used to calculate how much to buy in order to have enough for the row feet I need to plant. I also bought from High Mowing Organic Seeds and Gary Ibsen’s Tomato Fest.
Some of the varieties I’m most excited about are Shirofumi edamame soybeans, Purple Haze carrots, Sylvetta which is the wild version of arugula, Indigo Rose is an amazing tomato with black skin and bright red flesh, Kemit is a small varigated green eggplant and Barbarella is a beautiful lobed dark purple eggplant. Also, I can never resist trying new herbs like stevia, catnip and mexican mint marigold which is used like tarragon.
Now I need to print out field charts and begin figuring out where each crop will be planted, taking into consideration crop rotation and varying field characteristics such as sandier soil, prone to flood if heavy rain, shaded in the morning, narrow beds versus wide beds, etc…