One of the year’s first tasks at Morning Glory Farm is to order seeds for spring sowing. It’s a big job: For 2017, we’re buying more than 500 varieties of vegetable, herb and flower seeds. To mention just a few, this year we will be planting:
- 18 different lettuces;
- 24 varieties of pepper;
- 37 types of pumpkin (and that’s not counting the gourds!);
- 43 tomato varieties and
- 186 different kinds of flowers — including
- 100,000 sunflower seeds, for those summertime bouquets.
Lettuce is the first crop that’s ready for market at Morning Glory. This year, look for more mixes made with the very productive Salanova lettuces from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Waterville, Me., our #1 supplier.
We appreciate the Salanova types because they give us shapely, baby-sized leaves with mature lettuce flavor. This makes a real and very tasty improvement over picking baby leaves from regular lettuces before they’ve had the chance to develop their flavor. Our customers loved Salanova in 2016, so we’re doubling production this year.
Along with Johnny’s, our seed providers include Rochester, N.Y.-based Harris Seeds; High Mowing in Walcott, Vt.; the Fedco Seeds cooperative in Clinton, Me. and Kitazawa Seed Co., a small firm in Oakland, Calif. that sells unique Asian vegetables. All of these companies have pledged to sell no GMOs, so we can be confident the crops we grow are not genetically modified.
Before we can place our seed orders, we need to have a few things lined up:
- Field allocations: Each year we rotate our crops, so the first step is to map out where everything will go in the new season.
- Crop plans: Once we’ve decided where we will plant each crop, we need to plot how long the rows will be.
- With the crops planned, we calculate how many seeds we’ll need to plant them.
To help decide which seeds to choose, we keep detailed notes on yield, flavor and performance throughout each growing season, using a three-year rolling average to account for weather variations from year to year. Was a particular tomato variety prone to leaf spots in both wet and dry summers? We’ll try a different one this time. Backing up these copious notes, we have our farmers’ long memories. Seed prices have risen steeply in recent years, and we want to make the wisest choices we can.
In other farm news this February:
- Our first tomato seedlings of the year are several inches high and growing strong.
- We’ve poured the foundation for our new staff dormitory (photos to come).
- We’re hiring! See our jobs page for more information.
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