Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, here are five fresh ideas for upgrading your summer harvest from edible gardening expert Logan Williams

Fish Pepper
Creative Commons photo by Isabelle GOUJON is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Like many nursery owners, Logan Williams has been fielding more questions than ever this year from an influx of new customers who’ve gotten into gardening as a result of the renewed interest in home-based activities in the era of Covid-19. “People will come to me and they’ll say: ‘But the book said you couldn’t grow cucumbers right now,'” he laughs.  Logan, who runs Logan’s Gardens in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles with his father Jimmy, says everyone should relax. “My dad and I like to joke that these people have a ‘back East’ gardening mentality.” While lettuce might need some shade cloth, or you might want to move your arugula out of the sun, Jimmy says: “The fact is there’s not not much we can’t grow in the summer months, particularly in Southern California.” 

Jimmy and Logan (pictured above, with Logan’s mother and his sister, Porter) built their business on expanding people’s notions of what a backyard garden can be, selling plants at farmer’s markets and planting and maintaining edible gardens for homeowners and restaurants. For years they ran the business out of their house near Hollywood, planting every available spot of their yard with tomatoes, peppers, and papayas, as well as heirloom varieties of produce yet unseen in the L.A. area. Their nursery is believed to be the only African American-owned nursery in Southern California.

Of the dozens of tomatoes they grow, one is the Goose Creek tomato, an heirloom variety Williams’ enslaved ancestors cultivated in North Carolina and handed down through his family over the generations. While Williams has already sold out of Goose Creek for the season, the nursery offers numerous varieties of tomatoes and other vegetables—from heirloom peppers and cucumbers to oversized lettuce-leaf basil to papalote, the Mexican herb that’s been described as a cross between arugula and cilantro. If you’re in the L.A. area, you can find Logan’s Gardens selling at the Santa Monica Third Street Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the Hollywood Farmer’s Market on Sundays, and by appointment on Fridays and Saturdays at their nursery on Silverlake. Here are five exciting and unexpected edible plants that Logan suggests you should grow right now, regardless of your skill level. 

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