Want to know 3 ways to always be successful in your garden? Diversify, diversify, and diversify. (a/k/a Variety, variety, and variety.)
A different set of variables is presented to us every year we garden. If the differences become substantial some of our favorite varieties of vegetables can fail. If we are continually working with the universal principle of diversity in mind, we have a far great chance of being successful and harvesting bountifully no matter what the conditions.
Diversify when Planning Your Garden
When you plant tomatoes its a good idea to have more than just one kind. My garden has at least 5 different varieties and sometimes more each year.
I have a tiny, tiny cherry tomato that was discovered as a volunteer and it packs a powerful taste punch. I have an excellent large cherry tomato also discovered as a volunteer. Why cherry tomatoes? They’re my backups for when the big ones are not producing.
In addition to the cherry tomatoes I grow a couple of my favorite hybrids and a couple of heirloom varieties. If I like the heirloom I’ll save the seed or let it reseed itself in the garden for next year.
This year I am going to try one called Super Sioux which Diane (of Diane’s Flower Seeds) tells me is an improved version of the old heirloom tomato, Sioux. Its key appeal to me was being known for its ability to set fruit at high temperatures.
That fact never would have caught my eye in prior years but after the hot summer and drought experienced last year —- and seeing tomatoes not set any fruit for more than a month — I thought I’d give this one a try.
I grow at least 3 or more varietes. Early, mid-season and late varieties insure that I have potatoes to enjoy much longer into the season. Also, each variety has different strong points that may be desirable.
Kennebec – one that I have neglected to grow for a few years while trying other varieties — is back on my list this year mainly because of its high yields. These white-fleshed tubers are good cooked about anyway you choose. And its very dependable under most growing conditions.
Chieftan is the early red-skinned variety chosen for this year to satisfy the longing for new potatoes as quickly as possible. In prior years I’ve grown early Caribe and Reddale (also red-skinned) much to my satisfaction.
Of course there is King Harry (an improved Prince Harry) when you want to save all kinds of time and not check Potatoes Beetles. Yes, you read correctly. Their hairy leaves deter the pests that bother potatoes. (Even if you find some beetles, it won’t be the quantity like on other potatoes.)
Last year I scattered them in an available spot in my side border outside the garden, covered them with straw and harvested beautiful potatoes without the bother of having to kill potato beetles and larvae everyday.
In my opinion and the opinion of a friend who loves sampling my strawberries, Earliglow is about the sweetest Strawberry you can grow. But be warned — the birds think so too. I have to have it, but grow it along my side borders rather than in a specific bed. Its a beautiful plant, fits nicely with perennials and other flowers, and I can snack as I work.
My main crop for freezing and using fresh in quantity is Honeyoe. They produce longer, hold on the plant longer, and the birds don’t bother them as much. They’re sweet, just not as sweet as Earliglow.
If you’re a regular here at Tending My Garden you already know how I feel about Lettuce. If you don’t have a lot of different varieties you might not have lettuce for the entire season. Some varieties respond better than others in any given season and I plan to always have at least one variety amongst the lettuce that loves it —-no matter what the condition.
Spinach and Other Greens
New varieties are important to try because sooner or later you’ll come across something that hangs on in your garden when all others are done in.
This year I’m trying one called Strawberry Spinach. The online description said it was an ancient plant rediscovered growing at old monasteries in Europe. Although not really a spinach it has spinach flavor and is great is salads. The bit that caught my eye was: it’s a real heat lover —–which makes it a great choice for greens in the middle of summer! I can hardly wait! Maybe I’ll be able to have salads in August this year rather than just through mid July.
I loved German Giants so much last year that it is tempting to plant only German Giants this year. But knowing how different radishes can grow at different speeds and germinate at different times, I am still planting my second favorite English Breakfast and am trying a new one called China Rose. (After all, that’s how I found German Giants.)
This year I’m trying a zucchini call Zucchetta Ramp Tromboncino Squash. I read some place that it is more resistant to the squash vine borer because the stem is not hollow.
If this works, I’m going to be a happy gardener. Zuccinni that is not attacked by the borer can go on just about forever.
Years ago (maybe 17 or 18 ) I had a zuccinni in the garden that looked like a bush for 5 months. Finally when December came and the zuccinni finally departed, my 8 year old neighbor pointed to the spot where it had been and said to me — “Ohhh, Theresa, where’s the plant that was there?” She thought it was a year round plant because it had been there so long!
Beans, Peppers, and anything else
The same principle applies.
To assure your success and a bountiful harvest, always keep the principal of diversity in mind when choosing things for your garden. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
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Nice article, as usual. I’d like to add that Potato Garden is a good source for a wide variety of potatoes. They used to be called Ronniger Potato Farm. (www.potatogarden.com)
Thanks for the input Diane.
Another great article. I’m getting spring fever. Can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt. I’ve been ordering some seeds and making plans.
We had a warm day on Tues. and I picked a bag of spinach and lettuce (which is still living in my little cold frame). Have had delicious salads this week. All because of your inspiration.
I feel the same, Beppy. Am getting anxious to plant. Have lots of plans for the growing season!
I am so pleased that you are getting spinach and lettuce! I think winter salads fresh from the garden are one of life’s greatest joys! Another – is inspiring a friend!
Good morning Theresa,
I was going to ask how you handled the overload of cherry tomatoes because we have too many to eat right now & hate to see them go to waste. Then I read where you turn them into your garden beds.
I’m sharing them with friends & neighbors as well as trying new recipes.
How did your Super Sioux tomato perform for you?
Im also curious about the Strawberry Spinach. Was it as good as they said it was?
I canned 7 qts of broad beans & 9 quarts of regular string beans yesterday as well as cooking & freezing squash.
All of my counters are full of tomatoes not quite ripe enough to roast yet.
Have a Blessed Sunday,
All excess (if there is any) is always turned into my beds Betty. That way — I know it won’t go to waste.
Super Sioux was not especially impressive.
I read something about Strawberry Spinach at the last minute before planting that made me not plant it. Can’t remember what it was. 🙁
Did the Tromboncino work? I just lost several plants to the squash borer, not the Tromboncino yet, so I’m hoping it might work? Thanks!
I grew the Tromboncino in 2011 and that was the only year. It was not attacked by the vine borer, but I didn’t care for the squash or the fast growing vine, so I never grew it again. My point being — that I’d need more than one year of growing to determine if it was going to be attacked by the vine borer.
Hope it does great for you L and that you like it.