|Green Zebra ripening on the plant|
Another reason to grow multiple types is the variety in taste. People have a wide range of taste and texture preferences. And, many of those people actually like to experience different tastes as well. So, it makes sense from a customer satisfaction perspective that we identify good tasting tomatoes with a range of acceptable and interesting tastes.
|Fuzzy, juicy and delicious - Wapsipinicon Peach|
Then, there is this:
This chart represents the total production of ALL four varieties in our high tunnel over the past two seasons. I suppose this chart is a bittersweet thing because its existence means we are officially done with these plants for the season. But, the good news is that there is a very similar curve of production for both years. The biggest difference is the spike at the end of the season for 2013. Since that brings out another matter for discussion some other time, I'd rather focus on the harvest prior to that point.
|A good year for Jaune Flamme in 2014|
Here's where our argument for variety and diversity comes into play. It looks like, for all practical purposes, our high tunnel production for snack tomatoes is very consistent. This is a good thing for us. It helps us to plan and it helps us to provide a consistent quality product.
Clearly, Jaune Flamme had a pretty miserable year last year in the high tunnel. We know exactly why that is. But, again, that is a topic for other posts. The point here is that we had a down year last year and a decent year this year. But, still, we had a very similar production level from the high tunnel for the snack tomatoes, with a similar curve of production. The difference was that Wapsipinicon Peach, in particular, did not have the absolutely stellar year it had in 2013. Did it do fine? Yes, it performed within an acceptable range. But, it really busted out last season.
Then, there are the variables we introduce. You might argue that, in the high tunnel, we should be able to control planting, irrigation and weeding schedules. In short, we should be able to replicate a successful season in terms of OUR actions on the farm. But, now you make the assumption that conditions on the farm and in our lives allow us to follow an algorithm with no variability. Thus far, this has not occurred for us on this farm.
The very nature of our farm often precludes exact replications from season to season. Each year, we make adjustments in our plans. Every season, there are new aspects to our operations. And, there is the potential for new mistakes or accidents that require a response on our part. Add to this the possibilities of potential seed issues, leaks in the irrigation hose, mice eating seedlings, etc etc and you find you can't guarantee sameness anyway. So, why not embrace the diversity?
With diversity within the crop type, we 'hedge our bets' and increase the likelihood that we have success for the crop. If one of the varieties likes hot and dry (Wapsi Peach) much more than the others, then you can deal with a year where that happens (regardless of how it happens). If the season starts late, then varieties with shorter maturity times or cultivars that respond better to warmer weather as starts will perform. Others that need a longer, more consistent season may not.
|And, it always looks more inviting with a diverse offering anyway!|