Gael’s Edible Gardening Tidbits - 3 of 4
Selecting Your Plants
For a successful gardening experience, grow fruits and vegetables that:
- You and your family enjoy eating
- Do well in your climate
- Meet your space limitations
- Meet your time limitations
Once you have made a list of what you would like to grow, you can begin searching seed catalogs or visit nurseries. When selecting seeds and starts, you have a choice of open pollinated, heirloom or hybrid. Each of these categories offers a benefit. Seed savers will choose open pollinated or heirloom varieties, as seeds from these plants will grow true-to-type offspring. Hybrids (often labeled F1) will not produce true-to-type seeds because they contain genetic material from several varieties and it is unknown which variety might come through in the seed a hybrid produces. But many gardeners prefer hybrids for the traits they offer, such as disease resistance. MMG recommends choosing disease resistant varieties, especially in small gardens where crop rotation may not be possible.
Be sure to choose edible varieties that do well in Marin.
UC Marin Master Gardeners experiment with varieties of edibles to find those that grow well in Marin’s microclimates. Records are kept regarding pests, production and flavor. Here is a partial list of some favorites:
- Best cherry tomato is the ‘Sun Gold’, a full-flavored golden-colored tomato that grows well throughout Marin.
- Best sauce and canning tomato is the ‘San Marzano’
- Preferred slicing tomato is the ‘Carmello’
- ‘Piccolinos’ are a favored long, meaty cucumber
- ‘Rosa Bianca’ is a desired delicate eggplant
- ‘Watermelon’ radishes are large, beautiful and tender
- ‘Cocozelle’ summer squash is tender and delicately flavored
- ‘Delicata’ winter squash, is a sweet and tender, cream colored, fluted, cylinder that most cooks prefer to butternut.
Choose Edibles by season and micro-climate.
Most edibles are classified as cool or warm season crops. Cool season crops grow best when temperatures are 55-75°F and will tolerate light freezes. Cool season crops include: alliums, artichokes, asparagus, brassicas, greens, peas, and root vegetables. Warm season crops need warm soil and grow best when temperatures are 65–92°F. Warm season crops include: beans, cucumbers, eggplant, annual herbs, peppers, tomatoes, and squash. With proper placement and occasional use of bed covers, some greens and root crops may be grown all year long. If you live in west Marin, you may be able to grow “cool” season crops all year.