Rob D. Brodman
Our vegetable garden in March.
Seventeen kinds of herbs and veggies cover the fence and fill two half-moon-shaped beds, each about 3 feet across and 11 feet long.
Our circular kitchen plot, small enough to fit into a 16- by 16-foot corner of the garden, is packed with our favorite vegetables, herbs, and pollinator-attracting flowers.
The varieties listed below (and numbered on the photo above) were planted mostly as nursery seedlings; buy one plant of each variety except where noted. Beans and sunflowers were started from seed, following package instructions.
VEGETABLES AND HERBS
1. ‘Paul Robeson’: Deep maroon fruits have a sweet, earthy flavor.
2. ‘Early Girl’: red fruits.
3. ‘Yellow Pear’: golden, pear-shaped fruits.
4. 'Sunburst': yellow pattypan with a delicate flavor. 3 plants.
5. 'Cocozelle': Italian zucchini with dark and light green stripes.
6. 'Rosa Bianca': teardrop-shaped fruits with pinkish lavender and ivory skin (pictured at left). 2 plants.
7. Japanese long: tender, blackish purple eggplant. 2 plants.
8. 'Tequila': amethyst bells that mature to bright red. 2 plants.
9. 'Carmen': horn-shaped sweet red peppers. 2 plants.
10. O. vulgare 'Compactum': Small leaves can be used fresh or dried. 4 plants.Chives
11. Grasslike leaves can be clipped to add oniony flavor to salads and sandwiches. 3 plants.
12. Common thyme: Leaves can be used fresh or dried as a seasoning.
13. 'Slow Bolt': Fernlike foliage is a must-have for flavoring guacamole. 3 plants.
14. 'Mrs. Burns Lemon': Adds a distinctly lemony taste to casseroles and salads. 3 plants.
15. 'Genovese': strong-flavored leaves. 3 plants.
16. 'Blue Lake': firm, crunchy, and mild-flavored. From seed.
17. 'Romano': stringless, richly flavored pods. From seed.
18. 'Jerusalem Sunrise Lemon': light yellow blooms on 5-foot plants. From seed.
Coreopsis or cosmos
19. 'Moonbeam' coreopsis: delicate, pale yellow flowers on airy stems. Or try 'Sonata White' cosmos. 2 plants.
20. White sweet alyssum: Fluffy, honey-scented blooms attract bees and butterflies. 8 plants.
Next: 6 steps to a successful garden
6 STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL GARDEN
These key elements ensure that your plants stay healthy and productive.
1. Plant in raised beds
Filled with rich, fast-draining planting mix, they are an ideal growing environment for vegetables ― important if your native soil is heavy clay. Local Sonoma fieldstones, set loosely, create an attractive edging; easily dismantled at season's end, they can be reused differently.
2. Build a fence trellis
To maximize a small space, train beans on fence-mounted trellises. For each one, cut a 5- by 10-foot piece of rigid ¼-inch wire mesh from a building supplier. Attach four wood blocks to fence (one for each corner of mesh), screw a lag hook into each block, and fit mesh over hooks.
3. Supply a birdbath
The perfect centerpiece for our circular plot, it attracts birds that in turn feed on insect pests. The muted gold hue complements 'Moonbeam' coreopsis. Shallow concrete bowl ($95) and base ($165) from Quinterra, Calistoga, CA (707/332-4908).
4. Corral tomatoes in cages
Our easy homemade cages have an organic look. Set four 6-foot-long 2-by-2 redwood stakes 1 foot into the ground to form a 20- by 20-inch square; plant seedling in the center. As the plant grows, tie sisal twine around stakes every 6 inches.
6. Keep a garden calendar
Jot down when to fertilize (heavy feeders such as tomatoes can use dilute liquid fish emulsion several times during the growing season). Also write down when your crops should start producing (check labels). Pick peppers when they reach their mature size and color.