Beyond The 10

Jannie Vaught

As we plan and design our soon to be spring gardens why not think and plan for some new and varied plants to try. When we step into the average grocery store there are approximately 10 vegetables that are almost always available. For some larger grocery or specialty stores, you can purchase a wider variety and more leafy greens. Why not go beyond the ones we always grow and try something new. For example here in Hot grow zone 8a, when we get deep into summer all our vegetables are finished no matter how much water you apply. For example, green beans, plant them when the soil is 60 degrees and get your trellis up. They will really come on until it gets to about 85-86 degrees. Then they are done. Tomatoes give up at about 90 degrees.

However, there are varieties that will grow right through into early fall. One I grow and enjoy are foot long green beans or Noodle bean or Chinese beans, they have many names. They are very available through seed catalogs and come in green and purple. They do need a stout trellis. I’ve tried both trellised and let them sprawl on the ground and believe me they Sprawl. The trellised beans played out faster, I think due to direct sun exposure and “sunburn”. The plants that sprawled through the tomatoes and under the melon vines grew heavily and produced longer. They had some shade! And were still flowering when everything else was finished. For tomatoes look to start inside or purchase Heat Tolerant variety. Often there will the word Fire in the name. Onto greens. I have 3-year-old Swiss Char plants that in winter we are still enjoying. And it is the Leafy Green plants that you will begin to find a variety that is abundant. Even Collards and Kale are now grown from Heritage strains and are hardy and more tolerant of water and heat. Also, they are often more flavorful.

One of my favorite that love heat is Okra and they are so many types you have to hold back on the varieties you’ll want to plant. Sun-loving and water dependant they keep on flowering and getting taller and making that tasty pod. Now to potatoes, There is white gold, red and purple, Just do some searches for Potatoes and you will find growers who specialize in the variety. Sweet Potatoes are another we often only see as one variety to buy. But the White Yams and Purple are fantastic to start slips and grow. They are in the Mallow family and the green leaves can be eaten added to a salad or stir fry. But regular potatoes are Nightshades and the vines are not edible same as tomatoes and eggplant.

So when we want to try a few new varieties of garden-fresh to our growth plan, look at Bok Choi, Tatsoi and even Sorrel and Multi-colored Swiss Chard you will find a treasure of vegetable waiting to be part of that garden and possible bring some garden-fresh eating into the summer.

Growing Green With Jannie