Ever since I stopped planting seeds for starts last summer, I've been waiting to begin once again. It was near the end of August when I wrapped my operation up and I've planted my first seeds of the new year this evening. Can't think of a better way to welcome in 2012.
My first 'real' year of selling starts was excellent. This year, I have even bigger plans and hope to be growing many more varieties for you to try in your own gardens. I enjoyed the time I spent at the Tigard & Aloha Famer's Markets last year. I learned a tremendous amount and have grand ideas on how to utilize my space a bit more efficiently. I'm looking to get into some new markets around town. My experience with Barbur Foods has shown me this is a valuable way to get my plants out into the market.
I had a really great year with my tomatoes. On a whim, I tried my hand at grafting heirloom varieties onto virus-resistant and robust rootstock. In my garden, it was quite easy to tell the difference between the traditional plants and the grafted plants. The grafted plants grew far more quickly, had more fruit, ripened earlier, and generally were just a much healthier looking plant. I guess there is something to that idea after all!
After essentially getting shutout with vine-ripe fruit in 2010, I enjoyed a bumper crop this summer as I pulled in nearly 300 pounds of tomatoes (both from conventional and grafted plants.) Lot's of salsa, tomato sauce, and dried fruit still remain from the bounty. My basil was also a dependable crop, with frozen pesto cubes still waiting to be warmed for a tasty winter pasta.
While those are all positive things, it's worth noting that 2011 wasn't 100% candy-apple great. Spring and early summer rain plus chilly temps put a crimp on sales early on. In my own garden, it pretty much doomed any hope I had of growing corn and melons. Peppers didn't like it much either. I did get a bunch of hot peppers to ripen, but the cool conditions made it hard to get a good crop of bell peppers and larger hot peppers like poblanos and anaheims to ripen up. However, my one crowning achievement was to get a number of Manzano peppers to ripen. These are bar-none my favorite peppers. A notch below habaneros in heat, the citrus-y flavor is absolutely dynamite in salsas.
Another addition to the farm is a small Solexx greenhouse. With another La Nina predicted, this will be a great tool in the spring to keep the starts protected as they make their transition to the cruel outside world. Knowing me, I'll fill it up in no time and will be needing something twice as big. Guess I better find myself a few more markets so I can afford such pleasures!
That's it for now. I leave you will a picture of 12 freshly seeded flats of herbs. These mints, sages, rosemary, & thymes will take a while to get market ready. Early January is a good time to get them going. It makes for an easy start to the season.
Happy New Year!