When my indoor seedlings have perked up enough to be moved out to the cold frame, it means it’s time to think about starting seeds outdoors.
If you are still mulling what to grow in your vegetable garden this year, here’s the criteria I use to winnow down my excessively long list.
❧ First I consider what I really like to eat. I love beans and hot peppers, so a good chunk of my not-so-large garden is set aside for them. Of course I have to have tomatoes, garlic and lots of herbs, but after that I have to make some serious choices.
❧ Next, I choose vegetables that taste uncommonly better fresh. Tomatoes, of course. But also peas, salad greens and herbs. These start losing their sweetness the second they’re harvested and don’t stand a chance in the produce bins.
❧ You might be thinking that corn should be on that list. Well, my next consideration is “What can I get locally that’s as good as home grown?” While I love super fresh sweet corn, I don’t have the room to grow a summer-long supply. Luckily you can get great sweet corn at every farm stand in our area. Problem solved.
❧ Then I think about what costs a fortune to buy. Why would you fork over $2 or $3 for a tiny package of basil when you can get a plant – or 2 – for the same price and have basil in abundance. Face it, that little package is not going to cut it if you want pesto. The same thing goes for arugula, baby beets, and sprouting broccoli.
❧ And finally, don’t forget to give yourself a treat. Grow some vegetables that you won’t find at a grocery store, vegetables that won’t ship or store well or that are not profitable to grow commercially. For me, that’s the thin green beans, or haricot vert, torpedo onions, and tromboncino squash.
Of course, you have to be practical and consider how much space you actually have, how much time you have to tend your garden and what actually grows well there, but summer is so fleeting. Grab as much gratification from your garden as you can.