Bring yourself back to late last summer…recall those beautiful heirloom tomatoes your neighbor grew…and that smug expression on his face…
Don’t let him parade around with his perfect tomatoes again while you slink off to Whole Foods. This is the year you become the smug neighbor. Grow those perfect tomatoes. Grow enough mint to fuel your summer obsession with mojitos. Throw a pesto party for 100! This is the year!
You don’t have to be fully agro to be an agrarian, but you do have to plan ahead a little bit. Some would say you need to fully plan your garden space before you go online and start ordering seeds and starter plants. At the OFC, we disagree. Get online and get inspired. Find a few things you remember wanting last year, a few you’d probably never thought of, and something that just plain looks weird. And don’t forget the old standbys.
Here are a handful of the plants we’ll be putting in our gardens this summer:
Cherokee Purple: Pull one of these out of your garden and share it with your neighbor and he’ll know you aren’t kidding around. This heirloom tomato is our favorite. It’s big, beautiful to look at, and its taste is unmatched. This is the kind of tomato you want to slice and eat with a little olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt.
Sun Gold Cherry: Because these are cherry tomatoes you only need a few plants to pull loads of tomatoes off the vine. This variety is orange in color, super sweet, and begins giving ripe fruit after 60 days (that’s early).
Black Cherry: Again, a few of these will go a long way. This cherry is unique; they yield slightly larger cherry tomatoes and the flavor is far more complex than most sweet cherries. You’ve probably seen these at the farmers market. You only need 2 of each of these.
Interesting Pumpkins: Buy a handful of these packets but only use a few seeds from each and either share them with friends or store them away for another season. If you plant a few of these in your flower garden and let them run during the summer, in the fall you’ll have an assortment of unique looking pumpkins weaving their way through your now less-flowery garden.
Snow Peas: The gateway vegetable to stir-fries. Tastes phenomenal. Fun to grow and watch climb. Kids can pick ‘em. You can plant a second round in mid-August for a fall harvest.
Asparagus: Don’t buy these unless you have the room for a separate patch dedicated to asparagus. If you do you’ll get nothing this year, but starting next year you’ll be able to harvest asparagus for 7-10 days. The year after you’ll reap 2-3 weeks of harvest, and after that you’ll get 6 weeks of asparagus every year for the next 15 years. That’s a guaranteed 45 days of smelly pee!
An herb patch near your kitchen will inspire your cooking. You can grow plenty of herbs in a small space and the perennials will come back every spring. Adding a hand full of virtually any variety of fresh herbs to your salads will greatly improve it.
Kids can help define random shaped sections for each herb by lining up small pebbles or shells and write the herb names on popsicle sticks.
You’ll want basil (plant this around your established tomatoes instead of in the patch to maximize your use of space), oregano, thyme, tarragon, tarragon, rosemary, chervil, mint (think: unlimited mojitos), savory, lemon verbena, parsley, and if it doesn’t taste like soap to you, cilantro.
Blueberries. We covered them last year. If you missed the boat, get on board.
Seven Things To Remember:
Dependable standbys may be less exciting than crazy heirlooms and other funky veg, but they are the mainstays of a successful garden. Tomatoes, basil, cukes, lettuce, etc. You know what they are, don’t leave them out because they aren’t as exciting as artichokes.
Imagine a few recipes you’ll be able to make with veg and herbs entirely from your garden before you plant. Pizza, summer stir-fries, and salads all taste better if their key ingredients all came from your yard.
A couple weird plants make it all more interesting.
If you have kids, include them in the entire process for one or two of their favs.
Heirlooms are great but less dependable, yielding less than the more modern varieties. A mix is a good idea to make sure you aren’t left spending all summer growing three tomatoes.
Planning is key. Get your seeds/plants ordered at the right time or you’ll be stuck grabbing the leftovers at Home Depot on June 3rd.