The excitement of a new season is starting to build again on the farm. The planning charts are out, the greenhouse design is coming together, and I feel like I have got most of our seed catalogs memorized at this point after weeks of refining our seed selection. We will be growing quite a few new varieties this season, and if you are curious about the specifics you can browse through our Seed Selection page to see all of the seeds and suppliers we will be using this year. To keep this newsletter to a manageable length, I will just highlight a couple of the new choices that I am most excited about.
The first new trial that I am probably the most curious about is cantaloupe. Melons need a long season with hot days and warm nights, which is why we haven't given them a chance before. Their sprawling growth habits also demand a lot of space which is typically limited on our farm. However, we have a comfortable amount of land to work with now and some studies done by the U of S vegetable research team showed that it is possible to harvest a melon crop in Saskatchewan with the right varieties and added help from some season extension techniques, so we're going to give it a try and hope for a lot of heat this summer.
(Photo from High Mowing Organic Seeds)
After our best tomato season yet in 2017, it still seemed like there was some room for improvement, so there has actually been quite a shuffle in our tomato seed selection for 2018. We will still offer artisan cherry tomatoes, a salad tomato mix, and larger beefsteak tomatoes, but only 3 of our 9 varieties will remain the same. The large beefsteak tomato, Cauralina, shown below is one new choice that I am looking forward to testing. It combines the flavour and beauty of the larger heirlooms with the vigour and disease resistance of a hybrid and it is especially well suited for greenhouse production. It will hopefully address some of the challenges we have had in growing large heirloom tomatoes, such as skin cracking, disease susceptibility, and unpredictable yields.
(Photo from Johnny's Seeds)
The last crop I will highlight is our peppers. We have selected a few new bell peppers to try, but to be honest, you probably won't notice much of a difference, aside from a little more colour. The big change with our peppers this year is that they will all be grown in our future greenhouse. Based on studies I have been reading over the winter, the warmer temperatures in a greenhouse should really help our peppers ripen better in our short growing season. Last summer we put a ridiculous amount of work into babying our mini sweet peppers, especially considering the tiny yield they gave us in return. While their flavour was outstanding, they finished the season with a large percentage of the fruit still green and unripened. Normally, a performance like that would get a crop voted off the island pretty quickly, but they are going to get one more chance this summer in the greenhouse on account of their superb flavour.