Starts to Soiree
If you’re like me, going to the nursery this time of year is a test of willpower. We can almost taste those fresh veggies and our minds project images of arm loads of delicious food. It all starts in those 4 inch containers! The longer you browse, the more you start to imagine that small raised bed is as big as a half-acre farm and of course 18 tomato plants will fit. Yes, that personally happens to me each year, Tomatomania is wonderful rite of passage!
How do we decide how many starts to plant and which varieties? Here are a few simple guidelines we use to help you get the most out of your garden this Summer:
Plant Like You Party
Plant your garden like you would shop at your grocery store or farmers market. If you love making juices and can’t live without your kale, then there’s a great variety of cut and come again kale for you. Or, if your taste buds yearn for a sweet and spicy salsa, plant some Yellow Aji chiles and Strawberry Heart tomatoes will blow your mind. If your idea of a refreshing summer drink is a mojito, don’t forget to plant a pot full of Chocolate Mint is a must.
To keep it simple, grab your favorite recipe or meal plan, one that you would use for a Summer party. And make a note which fresh produce shows up.
Okay, now that we’ve narrowed it down to a couple varieties, how many plants should you get to have a bountiful garden? This is tricky, Harvest to Table has a great chart that shows much a family will consume on average a year.
Like Brad Gate our local legendary tomato breeder says, “I feel like I’m getting robbed if I don’t have at least four colors”. I planted 25 different varieties last year and could barely figure out what to do with 50lbs of tomatoes each week.
So how do we know how many starts to get for our space or our style of cooking?
Here we are lucky to have access to great farmers and an abundance of produce. Sometimes if you have a limited space picking out rare varieties or ones with a "Wow" that will impress your guests. Instead of a Roma let's put in a San Marazano, or instead of English cucumbers let's get some lemon cuke. A friend who has an incredible property to garden on had a friend give him seeds from Spain that they collected on a trip.