October 24, 2015

1 - There are many opportunities to experience new vegetables in your garden and to rotate new crops.

Yard and Garden October 24, 2015

Q.

As I was cleaning up my vegetable garden after the growing season after this summer, I began to think I would like to grow something different next year. Do you have any ideas about what to grow and where to find these plants?

A.

It sounds like you are interested in an extreme form of crop rotation. Growing different crops, with different nutrient needs, and from different plant families with different associated diseases and pests is a good way to reduce problems. If you want to grow some of the varieties you have been growing, consider putting them in different parts of the garden next year for this reason as well.

You did not name your usual crops, so I will assume you were growing tomatoes and chiles, perhaps beans, squash, and cucumbers, maybe even melons. If you were not growing some of these then there are some suggestions for you. Even within these groups of plants there is a lot of variety to consider. There are many types of tomatoes ranging from the beefsteak (large fruited varieties) to cherry and pear tomatoes. In between are the sauce and salad tomatoes and many other interesting varieties. There are climbing beans and bush beans that do not need support with many varieties to consider. There are several types of cucumbers including pickling, slicing, Armenian, and lemon (smaller, round, yellow fruit). Among the melons there are watermelons, cantaloupe, honeydew, canary melons, and many others. Of course there are the chiles. There are numerous types of chiles ranging from no heat to extremely hot. There are the famous varieties of chiles and some lesser known types of chiles. Most of the varieties mentioned above are usually available in local garden stores, the old-line mail order nurseries, and online from the old nurseries and some of the smaller specialty nurseries.

Have you tried Brussel sprouts, kale, and various types of lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, radishes, turnips, and mustard greens? These are interesting and are cold hardy so that they can be planted early or planted in mid-summer for a fall harvest after frost has made them sweeter. Many of these will grow through the winter in Southern New Mexico and can be grown in containers through the winter in windows or on protected porches in colder parts of the state.

I have grown stevia for several years and enjoy using the leaves to sweeten tea and other beverages without the need for sugar. These plants will freeze in the winter, but I grow them in large pots to overwinter indoors. I am trying Chinese cabbage and Siberian kale as well as Red Russian kale in my garden this winter. I hope the Siberian kale will survive the winter and perhaps the Chinese cabbage variety Tot Soi will also survive. I have some in pots on a protected porch so that I will have some fresh salad plants all winter.

I also grow sweet onions from transplants with great success. Have you tried growing onions? Garlic and elephant garlic are also good choices for some unusual garden crops.

Information about many of these crops and some suggested varieties are available in the Circular 457: Home Vegetable Gardening in New Mexico and Circular 457-B: Growing Zones Recommended Crop Varieties, and Planting and Harvesting Information for Home Vegetable Gardens in New Mexico. There are many other good gardening publications available on the ACES Publications. A good source of chiles is the New Mexico Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University. Dr. Bosland is the NMSU chile breeder and one of the sources of new chile varieties. There are other excellent online sources of chile, tomato, and almost any vegetable you could imagine, and some you never imagined.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: desertblooms@nmsu.edu, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.

Links:

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook page.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!