Monday, May 13, 2013

Plant Experiments

Jacob and I often have different opinions about trying new things.  Jacob's in the camp of stick with what you know you like, but I like trying different things.  Most of the time Jacob wins.  My new shoes are a good example, instead of sticking with my old brand of shoes I decided to try a different kind.  (I miss my old hiking boots.)  Our difference in opinions includes food.  There have been several lunchtime meals when I have experimented on myself and wished I hadn't.  However, not all my experiments turn out bad.  If I hadn't done some experiments, I would never have tried making a quiche (now one of our favorite meals), or tried brie cheese and mango filled crepes (yum!)

May 2012
What about the garden; should you stick with what you know or experiment?  Gardening seems to be a balance between finding the right crop/variety for your space, learning to anticipate pests and other problems so what you plant has a chance, and trying new things.  My gardening space is pretty small, and there isn't much room to experiment.  Plus, a plant experiment takes months to complete unlike some lunch menus gone south.  The things that I usually grow have been narrowed down by what we like to eat, and what seems to grow well in our soil.  We usually grow peas, broccoli  and onions in the winter, and tomatoes, peppers, and green beans in the summer.  We both love cucumbers, but each attempt has been met with aphids, vine borers, and bitter fruit.  Squash do poorly because of vine borer insect pests.  Watermelon didn't grow very well, and then got eaten by a rabbit.  I don't have enough space for corn.  Once I grew eggplant, and it did great only to discover, that Jacob and I don't really like to eat eggplant.  I found a good plan for me is to plant one or two new things each year with a balance of dependable crops that we enjoy.

 This year's experimental addition is Tomatillo!  Tomatillo is related to tomatoes and peppers, a member of the solanceae plant family.  It makes a fruit similar to a tomato, but the fruit stays green and the sepal (bud covering) makes a papery bag around the fruit.  I'm excited to see how it will do.  So far, it's making a bunch of pretty yellow flowers.  Since I've had luck with other solanceae family members I am hopeful that I will get fruit.  I hope to be snacking on chips and tomatillo salsa soon, and who knows maybe Jacob will enjoy it, too.