How did you decide what to grow in your kitchen garden?
Mostly, I grow things my husband and I like (beets, kohlrabi, carrots, tomatoes, peppers). But I’m also growing podding radishes and New Zealand Spinach for the first time this year because I’m curious about them.
I think I use the same method. I grow stuff in order of priority (1) can’t find locally, (2) we like to eat it but it doesn’t store well, (3) we’re curious about it, (4) it volunteered and I can’t bear to kill it.
So I grow long beans because I’ve never seen them in a grocery store or Asian market where I live. And I grow peppers because I’m addicted to hot sauce, I can’t buy good hot sauce around here, stores don’t always carry the best pepper selection, and I need them or I’ll pine away. I grow herbs because I like having fresh herbs on hand and they’re the thing I have experience with. We grew greens because we like salads and sauteed greens and they don’t store well; we usually aren’t organized enough to buy them and eat them all in an appropriate time table. Either we have them and can’t eat them because we’re too busy to eat at home, or we’re eating at home but we don’t have them because we didn’t use them in time last week and had to feed them to the worms. I’m growing snap peas and beets because we like them and are curious about them because we have no experience growing them.
Since I have a small patch, I tried to limit my garden to avoid things that were slightly redundant or easy to buy. So we didn’t grow chard because we were growing beets, and the greens are very similar (plus we had so many other greens already). We didn’t grow summer squash, because summer squash is a dime a dozen when the season starts. We didn’t plan on tomatoes because locally grown tomatoes are readily available year round (which surprised me, but they have hothouses) and I’ve always been bad with tomatoes. But the volunteer tomato trumped that decision, since I can’t kill it. I think the volunteer squash is winter, which I’m curious about but hadn’t planned on because of real-estate constraints.
Same as you Katzena, things we like to eat (tomatoes, peas, beans) or are a novelty, last years ‘bright lights’ swiss chard, comes to mind. I tend to gravitate to plants that provide a continuous harvest like tomatoes & peppers, rather than things like carrots that you grow and then pull out in one fell swoop.
This winter I went thru my seed stash. I plan to plant at least a few seeds of every vegetable that I have. Last year many of the old seeds that I planted inside in a plastic and styrofoam Park greenhouse-like thingie with lots of little plugs of growing material did not ever sprout.
This year, I figure that any seeds that don’t sprout, then I won’t plant them in my garden!
My focus will be more of having a variety of things growing, hopefully with some succession plantings, to learn about them, what works, and what does not; rather than going for raising mass quantities of some vegetable that I may not be able to use all that much of.
That’s a good question. I agonize (in a good way!) on what to grow every year. I would have to echo what crystin has said, especially the part about being addicted to hot sauce!
I always want to grow one of everything in my stash and I continue to persist with squash, although this will be year 4 and I have yet to enjoy even one from my garden!
I could go on, but in a nutshell, I grow lots of what I love (herbs, salad greens, hot peppers and tomatoes) and fill in the rest with stuff I want to try.
I’m embarrassed… you guys have a lot of restraint! I echo what everyone else has said. If you have limited space or time – pick the things that you love to grow & eat. Pick something that produces well in your garden & always pick something that you have never grown before (you never know what you will love).
Personally, I grow everything that I can find. I grow things that will never be harvested (Pepino last year in zone 5 – tried to overwinter, but died). I am growing several kinds of eggplant and okra this year. I don’t think that I even like eggplant or okra – but I will by the end of the summer! I have narrowed down my tomatoes from 200 to 150 varieties… and trying to cut it down more is getting really difficult, because I HAVE to grow some (seed getting old, really really have to try this or that). I’m afraid that I just keep expanding my gardens instead of cutting out certain things. I just enjoy puttering around the garden, checking everything out, so the more variety, the more fun for me!
That being said, there are some definates for me – a variety of tomatoes, hot peppers (thanks for Pasilla Bajio Deanna), Zucchini (it grows SO insanely well in my garden – always my best producer), herbs – basil, rosemary, sage, parsley, dill, corriander, thyme (always better fresh), Potatoes (my mom would be upset if I didn’t), lettuce/greens (now planted in with my shady perennial flowers – grow better there), pole beans (nothing is easier). These get the best spots in the garden & the other things go in around them.
One day I am sure that my back will ache too much to do such a big garden. I am hoping at that point I will have tried about a million varieties & flavours & know what grows the best, tastes the best & gives the most reliable harvest. Then I will plant those plants – but while I can… I am going to try to grow it all! Ha Ha!!
Speaking of new plants – does anyone have seed for a money tree? I am going to need more land soon…
I grow the tried- and trues every year, largely for preserving since I try to get through the winter on minimal grocery shopping, but I also do the “Grow Challenge”— I grow at least one thing each year that I’ve never grown before. This year I’m going to try celery.
A suggestion (good or Bad) on the 150-200 tomato varieties. Take one or two seeds from each variety. Mix them up in a jar or bag or something, and then plant, say, 10 tomato seeds this year, 10 next year, etc. till they are all gone. Call it the Mystery Tomato Garden, or something like that.
As I said, it might be a Bad suggestion!
Thanks Jim, but I like to save the seeds & also do a lot of tomato seed trading, so I need to know what I am growing… Maybe I could do a Mystery Tomato Garden as well – thanks, back up to 160! (:
Maybe a hat with the names would work better. Maybe I will try lasagna beds… hmmm… lasagna – needs some zingy tomatoes. See my sickness now – I just keep adding!
xan – I do celery every year. Mine is always hard & woody but exceptionally strong – perfect for potato salad or anything that needs a strong celery taste. I hear that constant deep watering & a bit of hilling help to blanch it and make it juicy & thick.
This garden is just starting, but in the past I’ve tended to grow what grows best, and learned to enjoy eating it. I also try to grow things that are nutritious and tasty, rather than just tasty.
Perennial veg is what I try to grow most of for the simple fact that it is easier. Sweet potatoes instead of potatoes, various bushy green things instead of lettuce, etc. Perennial forms of Alliums are easier, like multiplying leeks, onions and green onions that just need dividing and replanting instead of the ones that need to be continually replanted from seed.
Thankfully a lot of the things I like to eat are easy, like carrots and beetroot. Celery is too demanding, but I have seed for Kintsai / Soup Celery, which will give me the flavour for cooking, but not succulent stalks. I understand the outside stalks can be harvested and the plant will continue on for quite a while. My kind of veggie!
If there is time, room and energy, I add in all the things that are more demanding, like tomatoes which have to be individually bagged against fruit fly. If it all seems to be too much, cherry tomatoes grow with no protection.
I also like to grow things just because I want to try them and can’t find them in the shops. And I often get sucked in by weird and wonderful things like this year’s oddity, Myoga Ginger. I know, growing something just to eat the flowers is a bit of a waste of space, but I can’t wait to taste it!
Restricting my garden choices (because of limited energy) isn’t such a bad thing, it forces me to be more creative with my cooking ; – )
For us, deciding what to grow is 1) what can a get a large enough harvest from to preserve 2) what are our favorite veggies 3) herbs are a must because I cook with them a lot, and prefer the fresher taste of home dried herbs to that of the store (with the exception of saigon cinnamon, lol, but that, I don’t think most people grow!)
I don’t grow much in my kitchen garden because I have a large plot outside, but herbs are a biggy. I am getting ready to start some of those. Herbs I grow in order of importance to my cooking. From most important to least:
Cinnamon Basil , Sweet Basil, Oregano, Greek Oregano (more of a novelty), Sage, Thyme. My rosemary didn’t make it last year, but that is my new favorite, and I really want to grow it successfully. Just need to find someone to swap with for another try at it! :)
I grow what we like to eat here in the house and mostly heritage varieties when I can get the seeds or seedlings as personally I think they taste better. I too grow a lot of herbs for cooking and making the odd cups of tea etc.. but there my choices. Although this year I am trying to establish some fruit trees just to see how they go and then will pick which ones work better at my place.
LillyPilly- I like to use Cinnamon Basil as a tea. One of my favorites actually!
Thank you, ErikInTheBakery. I was recently given some seed for licorice basil and was pondering what I would do with the plants, but tea somehow didn’t cross my mind. Cinnamon basil would of course be even better.
I like the flavor of it in cooking. It has surprisingly good flavor for cooking, even though it is a cinnamon basil. I was surprised. But I prefer it over other types of basil for cooking. It is more flavorful than sweet basil, though I do like sweet basil. I remember EricInTheBakery telling me that he uses it for tea also…though I had forgotten, lol.
Thank you, TR and Erik. I love basil, but my husband doesn’t much care for it, certainly not in the concentrations used in pesto. He does however love cinnamon, so this might be one worth trying on him. At worst, I will have a winter’s worth of pesto for MY lunches in the freezer. Looks like I have yet another herb on the very long shopping list!