The 10 must have plants for your garden!
It's time to start thinking about plantings for the Spring! Your garden, whether it's an acre or a small deck connected to your condominium, can offer you fresh herbs and vegetables for an entire season. The only trick is planting what you'll use - what you'll need. Mind you, this is my own personal list - take from it what you will. I will not set a hoard of locusts upon your garden should you decide to plant something else. The earth is forgiving, and your imagination is infinite. Also, I dare not tell you what varieties to plant, find something that you like and give it a try!
Without further ado, my list...
1) Basil. It's a no-brainer. Everyone from Chef Boyardee to Mario Batali plants it, uses it, and relishes in its greatness. In sauces, on fresh tomatoes, or laced throughout a garden salad, this herb can do no wrong! You can plant it in the garden or in pots, both indoors or out. I'll admit, I've had little success growing it indoors, but that doesn't mean you can't do it!
2) Tomatoes. Choose any flavor you'd like. Can I suggest, if you're only going to invest in one plant, yellow cherry tomatoes are divine; little sugar-packed bites. Nothing is better than walking past a plant, harvesting a few, and munching on them as you go on your way. When deciding on a plant, think about the yield you want, the duration of that yield, and the care your plant needs. Also, just so you know, if you find a large green caterpillar on your plant, kill it immediately! If that same caterpillar has a lot of white egg sacks on it's back, keep it. Tomatoes are a tricky beast!
3) Parsley. Choose either curly or flat-leafed. Both can be used in sauces, in salads, or in your favorite salsa recipe. And if you have rabbits, they love them some parsley!
4) Chard. This green can be stir-fried, sautéed, or used in delicious green juices. Easy to grow, and thriving in Spring and Autumn weather, this plant will be the first (and last) you harvest of the season. You can continually plant it - about ever 3 weeks or so, and it will be available for a continual use.
5) Rosemary. Another herb. Use it with pork, or better yet, use the stems as kebab spears, to grill your meat and/or vegetables. It's versatile, easy to grow, and doesn't need the 1" a week watering your thirsty tomatoes will require. You can also grow it in pots. My plants have survived since last year, albeit, brought indoors to over-winter. They still thrive.
6) Beans. Beans of any sort I say! Peas, ok. Green beans - oh, I love them. Soybeans even. They can be grown early...meaning, if you're growing from seed, start soon! These plants will need a trellis, or something to climb on. Fantastically, you can sow these seeds directly into the soil. Once done, these plants can be pulled up and you can plant something different, a tomato perhaps?
7) Squash. I'll admit, this may be something you never thought about. But I grew acorn squash last year, with no experience, and had quite the bounty. While I have since learned my cucumbers were attacked by that most vile of beetles, the squash remained untouched. Planted next to the tomatoes, they received welcomed amounts of water. There are untold varieties, so find something you like and give it a go.
8) Strawberries. Easy to plant, these beasts need to be placed somewhere they can expand. With little care, however, they produce; although optimal fruit growth comes after three years. Be sure you don't plant strawberries where your dog roams, unless you don't mind a destroyed plant or two. Last year, I planted a hot pink strawberry (meaning it's flowers were hot pink), and its name was 'Frisan.'
9) Hot pepper. Find your flavor - from jalapeño to cherry to fresno, these varieties are numerous. And easy to grow. The great thing is that you don't need a large harvest to be successful. Use them fresh, or dry them near the furnace.
10) Something fun! Plant something that looks amazing. Something you think would be fun to grow. If you can't experiment in your garden, then what's the point?! If you love beets, plant them. Radishes grow nicely too! The world is your oyster. Just read the instructions given you on the seed packet or plant. If it dies, so be it, but you've tried...and that's half the battle!
Good luck brave gardener! Reap what you grow, and use what you plant!
Andrew owns and operates Orchard House Bed and Breakfast in Granville, Ohio, and is the MANfamer of FOLK Magazine. You can follow his blog at www.orchardhousegranville.com/andrewsblog/.