New crops

little_minnie(zone 4a)October 11, 2012

What new to you crops are you thinking about for next year? I sent my shareholders an information gathering survey of potential crops to see what ones interested them. I might add a few tomatillos, red noodle beans, brussel sprouts after 5 years off of them, some new Asian brassica greens, baby leaves in summer, and I listed a few other things I probably wouldn't grow like okra, salsify and so on just to get comments. I didn't get fennel to germinate this year and parsnips and leeks were not weeded. I am adding back gold beets and yellow watermelon. Also purple beans to do a tricolor thing.

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I threw everything but the kitchen sink at it this year to see what happens, so will be taking out as much as adding.

Out:Filet beans, Blue hubbard(hard to sell for much), Old fashioned patty pans (for more sunburst), Ground Cherries, Tomatillos, Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes(pain to pick compared to others), Honey dew, cantaloupe, Cilantro,Bitter melon, all peppers but the basics.

In:Big max pumpkin (for fun), Chinese Napa cabbage, hot weather greens(as discussed on a thread here), raspberries, Spinach "on the crown",Tatsoi bulk leaves and in heads to see what works best, Garlic, yellow cherry tomato. Might do delicata squash and push it for grilling, since people won't buy too much winter squash until it cools off.

Lots of things I need to do more of and longer, almost everything "cool season" needs to be doubled and tripled or more, both in size of plantings and intervals. Need to change up a few varieties of tomatoes and do more "dry farmed" determinant tomatoes (turn off the water after fruit set).

Oh yes, definitely out: All the volunteers and stray cross pollinated seeds my kids make me plant!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 11:54PM
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    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 1:41PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

My biggest problem for new crops is what am I going to take out and not grow, so I just keep them and expand the "farm". As I tell my wife, less yard and pasture to mow.

Things that we are probably going to drop for next year. Broccoli, Cauliflower and Chard (in the Spring, maybe not, it is too easy to pick and sell) Yellow Summer Squash(stick with just white, yellow and green Zucchini) Little Leaf Little cucumber (just dropping this variety).

Things we are going to have more of next year:
Vertina little cucumbers, early personal sized melons and cantaloupes, early tomatoes (more determinate varieties, planted closer together), earlier carrots (planting in January), and heads of lettuce, Purple sweet potatoes.

Things we are going to try:
annual rhubarb (died with the excessive heat and drought), Ginger in the high tunnels, garlic (planting this weekend),
and closer successions of tomatoes.

Things we would like to grow, but don't have the man-power to pick and sell:
Strawberries, Raspberries, and other tree fruit.


    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 4:06PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

What is annual rhubarb?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 9:22PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Well, it is suppose to be Rhubarb that you plant from seed and transplant, then harvest it out the first year and don't keep from year to year.

I sat down with a gentleman from Missouri who told me about this. It is hard to find much info on it, but he said he was very successful doing it. Well I got my seeds late, got them planted late, transplanted them late and had the hottest May and June in recent history, so this year was a flop.

But you plant it about the same time you start your tomatoes then transplant it out and harvest when it gets big enough. I didn't water mine enough this year to get it where it needed to be, but I am going to try more next spring. I was actually planning on doing it again this fall, but with the drought I didn't even plant it.

Search for some information, you will find some.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 1:48AM
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Jay - I've never heard of Little Leaf "Little" - I'm growing H-19. Wondering why you're dropping it? It did and sold very well for me.

I'm thinking of dropping all squash, they take so much room and don't get much per sf when you figure (even though zukes produce a lot). I'll grow 2 plants for us. Same with green beans - just for us, too labor-intensive to pick and don't get much per lb for them. Potatoes sold for more per lb, but again might be too labor-intensive to be profitable, and I need to prep a new area for them so if I grow any they will be just for us.

Definitely dropping any slicer cukes, will grow starts since I have seed but I haven't met a true "bush" type, even if not vining they sprawl and then it's worse b/c I can't trellis them. I'll plant the rest of the de Bourbonne cornichon seeds I have since I can trellis them, but I could never seem to catch them at the right size to make cornichons, and couldn't sell them no matter what size they were.

Only things I know for sure I'm keeping next year are edamame (labor intensive but good price and I've got 2-yr old seed to use), tomatoes, lettuce, arugula and okra (want to plant the rest of the packet of seed I bought this year, only planted 8 and it wasn't productive but very forgiving, not much space required, so even if we're the only ones who eat it I might as well plant the rest of the packet).

Definitely not planting any more Burpee seeds (other than from open packets) - they don't grow true!

I am stuck not growing much - might try bell and sweet peppers in high tunnel 1 more year, will grow some hots for us but they don't sell.

I still have to meet with wholesale customer(s) to see what they want and what they're willing to pay. Trying to do just wholesale (and my regular customers at DH's work, neighbors), thinking no markets next year.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 8:13AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Sorry, They are H-19 Little Leaf Cucumbers. I call them little cucumbers and not pickling cucumbers. People think you have to pickle them, but they are delicious raw.

I am dropping the H-19 not because it is a bad producer, but it is slow to start producing. Also, they are white spined. Meaning they are white and green. I am going to only grow Vertina next year. They start producing much sooner(10-14 days) and are much more even. They are also black spined, meaning black and green. It is hard to explain the white and black spined, but if you search for them you will see what I mean. I mix these two varieties and I always have H-19's left and no Vetinas.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 6:19PM
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de Bourbonne are black spined, so I know what you mean. But do people prefer the black spined? Not so here, even after I rubbed the spines off no one would buy the cornichons, but I had a lot of people buy the H-19 for salads, esp. after I explained that they were thinner-skinned, not as seedy, and smaller (so no leftovers) than the slicers.

I've never heard of Vertina. I'm thinking of trying County Fair and/or Diva next year.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 7:02PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

But what is the benefit of annual rhubarb over perennial?

I hadn't done anything wholesale in some time but sold a box of green peppers to the local supermarket. The produce manager wasn't enthused but went on with the sale. She did not have them out today but maybe she is trying to sell through what she had. I picked them 7 days ago so I want to see them out!
I think I will keep wholesale in mind for the future. Normally I think the profit is so much less but I got 50c each for the peppers and wouldn't have made more at market and would have sold so few at a slow market (I was sick and didn't go so called the grocery store instead).
The whole thing comes down to specializing in some crops or doing CSA and growing everything. If I specialize I could sell more wholesale but I have the CSAs for now. If they start to peter out I will rethink things.
It is definitely important to stop and think about what things are not bringing in enough money- per foot and per hour and per day of growing. All that is important.

Super Zagross is my cuc of choice.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 10:13PM
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So are you feeling better now minnie?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 2:05PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Yes thanks. It took a week after that horrible market to get better. The weather has improved here so no freezing to death outside.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 9:15PM
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magz88(5a - Central Ontario)

On the veggie side I plan on starting garlic next year. For the most part I will be streamlining to fewer veg and I will only be selling in the spring and fall since I don't want to fight drought again next year.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 9:58PM
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Dropping: okra, brussels sprouts, yellow squash, large tomotoes (attacked by bugs, too long to produce, etc), white tomatoes (no taste), spinach (need a heat tolerant variety), carrots & radishes (not worth the labor), greek basil

Keeping/Expanding: basil (all types, except greek), cilantro, pickling cucumbers, asparagus, blackberries, mandarins, red romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, red russian kale, mustard greens (will produce less), sugar snap peas, parsley, dill, beets

Maybe try again: raspberries (adding bird net), melons, onions, chard, artichoke, purple beans, white eggplant, sweet potatoes, celery

New: sunflowers, grapes, fennel, dwarf pak choy, sweet bell peppers, hot peppers, mint, stevia, purple potatoes, rosemary, passion fruit, cinnamon basil, lime basil

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 9:14PM
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You sell the white tomatoes to people with stomach acid problems, same with yellow. Lighter the color the less acidy taste (which is also what some people call 'tomato' taste).

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 12:05PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Tomato experts say that the bland tomatoes don't actually have less acid. I splurged on seeds for a seedless tomato for people with diverticulitis.

Should I grow a few Brussel sprouts? What about just 4 plants or something? I already ordered all my seeds so i could just get some from the store.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 2:02PM
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I'm cutting back on a lot of the odder variety of things (patty pans, 8 balls, etc) and will focus more on the traditional. Same goes for cukes and peppers and potatoes. I do well w/the purples, pinks, etc., but the cost for them is just too high, compared to what I can buy in bulk locally. I'll be planting considerably more broccoli, cabbage, beets, and mini pumpkins.

Adding another 150 asparagus, replacing a lot of blueberries, gooseberries, and currants. Giving up completely on strawberries. Adding another 100 feet of black rasps and will experiment w/6 new types of elderberries. I'm only adding 3 or 4 new trees to the orchard.

I had really good success selling white tomatoes a couple years ago. Last year, almost all our tomatoes were a bust, so I only have that year to go on. As for Brussels, I love 'em and would plant them just for us. Brussels taste better after a frost, so I'd start some from seed so they'd be maturing in late fall/early winter.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 3:11PM
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I wish I could grow Brussels sprouts..just too hot and humid here. If there is a light frost, the next day it will be 75ish-80..ugh! Saturday Shorts, Winter Coat Wednesdays! I'm just hoping it stays cool enough to harvest lettuce, and not have it bolt!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 12:03AM
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Here is the pinterest page of a Seattle grower, showing her unusual crops:

Here is a link that might be useful: Pinterest

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 1:14PM
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I like reading this kind of stuff. I don't do market gardening for profit, but just plain ol' large scale home gardening for fun. I do sell some things to folks at work, but very cheaply. Seed money, mostly, and I just about break even on seed/fuel costs. Any other costs I eat as part of owning tractors and upkeep on the place. Not bad.

I find that when I go to local "farmer's markets" to walk around there are a bunch of hobbyists like me that bring a few of a variety of things and charge an arm and a leg for them. I don't sell at markets, just patronize. One time a guy had a tomato that was huge, I admit, and it looked great, I admit, but it was worth $5. I don't see it. I'll do without or will drive up the road to the produce stand and get them there before I'll pay $5 for one tomato. Some things aren't that badly priced, but they don't look very good. I just like seeing what others grow and comparing what they think is marketable to what I grow and how mine looks.

Folks at work see tomatoes. They don't really care whether they're organic or not, or heirloom or hybrid or even what kind they are. They're tomatoes. So I grow varieties that I like and want for me to try and then take extras to work for people that just want tomatoes. Last summer, I didn't grow tomatoes and people just about had a fit. I burnt my transplants while hardening them off. First time I tried to grow my own. Didn't go buy replacements. Lesson learned. Sweetpotatoes work the same way. I started growing them several years ago and bought several varieties. Nobody cared. They just saw sweetpotatoes.

My cash crops for my small clientele at work are fall and winter greens (collards and kale) and sweetpotatoes in the fall. Tomatoes and squash do well in the summer. People ask for okra over and over. Sometimes they request green beans.

This year, I'm doing the basics - beets, carrots, lettuce in the spring, and tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, corn in the summer. I'm upping the corn because it did so well last summer despite all the weather issues we had. Hoping for a repeat this summer. I'll have cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon as well as some cushaws and various pumpkins if they do well.

And I'm adding a bunch of "exotic" things that other folks at the office don't grow. That's how I up the ante and keep people interested. Last summer I did wax beans and you would have thought I brought in kryptonite. :-) This summer I'll be doing celeriac, cardoon, artichokes, leeks, fennel bulbs, jicama, red celery, and some other things I found in John Scheeper's catalog that piqued my interest. I'm really looking forward to celeriac and jicama. Someone at work asked about fennel, so I'm trying it for them. I hate the stuff. I don't know how much will grow, but I have to try or I won't know.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 3:12PM
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Chris, those prices are usually based on market supply/demand. Plus those hobbyist might actually be adding all of their costs into their prices, instead of just 'seed money'. There are alot of costs that the average person doesn't see, and people selling, even a little, for 'seed money' makes it harder for those people trying to make a living, or just pay their bills.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 9:38AM
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Update to my list:

Customers' comments convinced me to keep the radishes..I always sold out and "you have the best radishes" comment really made me think twice..

Will absolutely grow fennel again but will stagger planting so I don't overlap with the big fennel sellers. I did learn that my customers preferred my smaller fennel over the large bulbs. Lots of upscale chefs attend our market so will try to also add leeks.

Chocolate mint and Stevia were a big hit!

No matter what I do...people love the stuff that I don't think they funny.

I seem to attract the customers who live the raw food I'm going to look into more crops that can be eaten raw & also look into medicinal herbs & tea crops..

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 1:10PM
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We're doing quite a bit of "funky" stuff this year, I feel like so many growers have the same things so I'm trying to make us a little different.
Romanesko and Globe artichokes, Tomatoes: pink lady, black pineapple, yellow pear, matt's wild, juliette, white cherry, black cherry, Squash and zuc: romanesko, lemon squash, white scallop, Rainbow Chard, Husk Cherries, Tomatillos, Fish Peppers, Shishitos, ... the list goes on!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 1:08PM
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