From GINA COVINA
Laughing Frog Farm
This year we’re progressing from “trying out new varieties” to “conducting variety trials” – same thing but with more attention to making growing conditions the same for each variety and keeping track of results. Since neither Lin nor I have the slightest tendency or training toward scientific rigor, we’re looking to the Organic Seed Alliance’s excellent booklet, On-Farm Variety Trials: A Guide for Organic Vegetable, Herb and Flower Producers (download here) for inspiration and instruction.
Here’s the gist: Plant in a location that will provide the most consistent conditions possible – not shady at one end, or different soil types. You want the differences that show up to reflect genetic variations rather than cultural ones. Include one variety you’re familiar with and have already grown. That way if the summer is cold and not one of your tomato varieties ripens until September, not even your old favorite that usually ripens by early August, you’ll know to blame the weather, not the new varieties.
Set up your trial bed with more than one block of each variety, arranging their order so each variety has a chance at an end and middle position to further rule out environmental variables. Plant the entire bed at one go, and care for it the same way – weed the whole bed at once, water every part equally, etc.
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