Plants In The Ground For A Sufficiently Loose Definition Of Ground

This weekend was also Get The Motherfucking Garden Going weekend.

If you've only been here for OLDNERD, one of the things that made up the old version of the site was discussion of what I grow on my deck in what is now four official terra-cotta-colored plastic Earthboxes that have seen me through the last three summers. This is, I think, my third(?) year with four of them, and generally, what I've found best is to fill one box with interesting herbs, one box with interesting peppers, one box with tomatoes, and one box with two other vegetables that essentially produce fruits rather than underground stuff. Basically, if it hangs off a plant aboveground, its good.

Also, as a rule, I don't grow anything that's cheap and just as good at the store. So no cucumbers or zucchini. Fuck that.

This year, I got all my plants at the Friends Plant Sale, which is a ginormous, once a year plant sale run by Quakers at the State Fairgrounds. You can get essentially anything there, and their selection of weird-ass edible plants is second to none. It is also a giant hassle, involving going early, getting a wristband, waiting a couple of hours until your wristband number is called, and then thronging your way through the throngs to find what you want amidst the thousands of other plants.

Which is why in past years I've taken shameful advantage of the kindness of others who were going anyway and could pick up a couple things for me, and gotten the rest from smaller local sales and a nearby greenhouse. But this year I had a chance to go, took it, and got everything. So, in the boxes this year:

Lime Basil - basically, the greatest herb on the planet, because it tastes like two of the tastiest things on the planet. Hint: they're in the name.

Mexican Oregano: I can never use enough oregano, and having the actual Mexican kind won't hurt.

Vietnamese Coriander: I've had limited success with my coriander family growing over the years. My cilantro lived fast and died young, giving me nothing but stalks and flowers after about a month. The culantro was stiff and sharp and painful to deal with and only a few of the leaves ever got soft enough to use. So we'll try this one.

Cutting Celery: Basically a neverending source of celery leaves.

Pesto Perpetual Basil: A non-flowering basil varietal, looks to be ideal for my basic basil needs.

Chervil: I've tried to grow tarragon two years in a row, and haven't gotten shit out of it. Chervil is apparently a lot like tarragon, and the seedlings for sale seemed a lot healthier than any tarragon I've ever bought. We'll see.


One round pimiento type, one Japanese type that's supposed to ripen quickly, and something called a Yoder Stuffing Pepper. We'll see how those go.


Jalapeno, as always, because I love red jalapenos. Anaheims, as always, because they're a good medium utility pepper. And "Aji Cristal", because I'm trying to find something that's the closest possible approximation to the peppers used in South American cuisines and sauces. Maybe this is it.


A red globe and a red grape, both picked because their descriptions included a high fruit to vine ratio, which is a thing I need because I hate peering through vines to find ripe tomatoes.


Chinese White Sword Eggplant - last year I bought what I thought was a skinny eggpant and got globe eggplant. That shouldn't happen this year.

Okra - this year's experiment. I like okra, but don't eat it very often and am wondering both how it will work in the garden and how I'll like it super fresh off the plant.


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Herbs and tomatoes

No thyme? It's a must-have for soups and stocks.

You take your lime basil, I'll take my Thai basil. Actually, maybe I'll try the lime variety this year, too. But Thai is the one for me.

A non-flowering basil? Going to have to find me a couple of those!

I recall you having rather good results with green zebra tomatoes last year. Did you just want a change, or just hoping that these will be even better?

Plenty Of Thyme

Thyme's one of those herbs where I don't notice a huge difference between dried and fresh, plus it's one I get plenty of in the CSA, so I don't bother growing it.

The non-flowering basil variety is called "Pesto Perpetuo", and apparently it's also non-surviving-planting or non-surviving-weird-Minnesota-sub-40-degree-May, because it looks like it's dead. I'll have to find a different herb at another plant sale.

I love Thai basil too, but in a pinch, I can buy it some places. Nobody sells the lime.

Beefy Thyme

Our CSA is a meat CSA, so not so good on the fresh herbs. A thyme plant in the garden from the Farmers Market costs less then a clam pack of herbs at the grocery, so for me, it absolutely makes sense.


Eventually, once I get more planting space, stuff like that may well make the cut. Especially for stuff at ground level - I'd think herbs would be less prone to animals eating them than vegetables. but for now, with only six herb slots, I've gotta be picky.

I don't think I ever answered your tomato question - it's two things - first, I did green zebras for two years in a rwo, so I wanted a change. And second, I really wanted to try varieties that were at least advertised as having less in the way of vines. I mean, I know I'm bad at pruning, so any way botany can help me with that, I'm all for.

Ground Level

I think I have said before, but when you do put things in the actual ground, hit the chives first as they are perennials. I have already harvested from ours a few times this season. I can only wish that the asparagus we planted was half as vigorous.

As for the critters, the bunnies in our neighborhood love parsley and basil, so those are the ones we grow in containers. Everything else - including the thai basil - goes in the ground for us. If I find lime basil, I am not sure if I will risk putting it in the ground, or default to a container.

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