Spring In the Garden!
Thanks to everyone who came to April’s DIG IT class! We talked about growing ingredients for your favorite salads, as well as giving lots of tips about growing all the heat loving spring and summer vegetables. The next DIG IT class is all about Tomatoes & Basil on Saturday, May 7th from 1-2pm, where we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about growing, trellising, fertilizing, and harvesting these two companion plants. As always, the class is free and open to the public, so please bring friends, family, and lots of questions.
If you missed April’s class and can’t wait for May’s class, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Below is a quick primer of the varieties of some of the most popular spring and summer vegetables that do well here in the Bay Area.
1) Peppers: When it comes to growing peppers in the Bay Area, think hot and small. Although it seems counterintuitive, most hot peppers do not need hot weather to grow successfully and our mild climate is perfect for them. Try everything from padrons and shishitos to habanero and the extremely hot “ghost” pepper, or one of our personal favorites, the chile de arbol (pictured above). This prolific hot red pepper grows with little fuss and can be used fresh in chilis or salsas, but can also be dried for continued use through the winter. And if your taste veers toward the sweet side, try mini bell peppers or the tapered sweet frying peppers. We’ve found that larger bell peppers simply don’t produce as well in our climate.
2) Eggpants: Similar to peppers, smaller fruiting eggplants tend to produce more in our climate. We’ve had success with some of the large traditional purple varieties and heirloom pinkish/striped varieties, but if we had to place a bet on what would be most successful, we’d go with the smaller Japanese eggplants or the little finger variety.
3) Tomatoes: If you haven’t sensed a theme here, again we’ve found that smaller is more prolific when it comes to growing tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes of all kinds did extremely well last summer, as well as the medium sized early girl tomatoes that you see in the picture at the top of this page. Just know that most tomato plants need a sturdy trellis of some kind and that many varieties can grow extremely large – think 5 or 6 feet tall and a few feet wide! If your garden has limited space, one or two tomato plants may be all you can squeeze in.
4) Lesser Known Summer Vegetables: If you’re looking for some prolific, yet lesser known (and still delicious!) summer vegetables to grow this summer, we have two suggestions: the mouse melon (pictured above) and the ground cherry. Despite its name, the mouse melon is actually a tiny cucumber that can be eaten skin and all in salads or as a snack, while the ground cherry is a super sweet fruit that grows in a husk and is almost impossible to grow unsuccessfully. Know, however, that the ground cherry grows in an unwieldy fashion and can take over a section of your garden quickly. As an added bonus, both the ground cherry and the mouse melon are huge favorites for even the pickiest kids we know!
Don’t worry, too, if you haven’t yet planted your summer vegetables. There’s still plenty of time! In fact, we encourage everyone to wait until after tax day to plant tomatoes and many other summer vegetables (including peppers, eggplants, and cucumbers) appreciate waiting until the warmer days of May before planting. There’s no need to feel like you’re falling behind!
Happy spring and we hope to see you at the next DIG IT class on Saturday, May 7th!
PHOTO CREDITS HOMESTEAD DESIGN COLLECTIVE
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