Growing exotics

Larry G. Field
Thursday, August 8, 2019
Larry Fields, the Laurel Outlook’s garden columnist, shows off one of this season’s Walla Walla onions. He prefers a big, sweet onion, so that a slice will cover the bread.

Larry Fields, the Laurel Outlook’s garden columnist, shows off one of this season’s Walla Walla onions. He prefers a big, sweet onion, so that a slice will cover the bread.

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Seed catalogs are loaded with plant varieties that are NOT widely grown in our area. This includes items such as lima beans, artichokes, celery, peanuts, popcorn, yams, sweet potatoes, sun-

flowers and on. I have grown

these and others successfully, but none justify the work or garden space. The only one from the above list that I have had problems with were the peanuts. I am sure that with my current knowledge I could grow them more successfully by using clear plastic to extend the season and sand for the nuts to grow in. When I did grow them I simply planted them when warm enough and depended on the growing season which, for peanuts is not the long enough. On most years about one forth of my crop was mature enough to utilize. All of the others on the list were grown successfully enough to market at Farmers Market. I feel that any of these “exot” ics should be purchased from grocers and not grown.

Most serious gardeners like to attempt challenges and will or have

grown them. For the beginner, I would suggest that you fight the urge to grow. If you lose the fight and must grow them, limit yourself to one per season. If you fill your entire garden space with exotics and

have little to no success, you might become frustrated with gardening as a whole.

“Old Tales” abound in the gardening circles. Exotics are no exception. One that I have heard many times is a supposed way of hurrying

the ripening of sunflower seeds. As the tale goes, once the heads have

formed, use a narrow bladed saw and saw half way through the stalk to “scare” the plant so that it will produce its offspring before it dies. Any time that you hear such a tale and have a tendency to believe it, try it with part of your crop (not the entire crop) and compare the results.

Such a maneuver (sawing) would interfere with the flow of nutrients

and water. It would seriously injure the plant. If it did cause the seeds to ripen more rapidly, with fewer nutrients, the nuts within the shells

should be smaller. Finally, I doubt if the brain in the sunflower is large

enough to determine that the offspring must mature before “I die”!

Test results. When I sawed half way thru the stalks of sunflowers

on half a row, the uncut produced 12% more wt & larger internal nuts. When I increased corn spacing from 8 to 24 inches I still grew two similar ears per plant. The 8” spaced held 3 times as many plants, plus, nearly 10% of the 24” spaced were broken off by the wind. When I stepped on the tops of half a row of onions to break the tops, several of those onions spoiled. In the other half of the row the tops eventually toppled by themselves. Most such tales have little value. I generally use my own judgment, but on occasion I will conduct a test to gain numerical data so that I can confuse future arguments with facts.

Save your time, garden space, and money and grow veggies recommended for our area.


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