By Letha Hinman
Hanging out with friends is a universal good time. In gardening we hang out with plants, and they become our friends. I grew up on a farm, so I find planting vegetables a natural pastime. Knowing my food through growing my food has been a lifetime hobby.
Gardening is a satisfying way to spend time, but it is not always easy. Hanging out with vegetables takes work, time and dedication, but the harvest is pure joy. So when planning an edible garden, choose wisely the veggies you are going to hang out with, the ones worth cultivating a serious friendship with for months to come. It is my great pleasure to share with you some of my favorite garden friends to veg with. In my opinion, I hang out with the best!
My newest and best friend is Lazy Wife green beans. This type of greasy bean has large seeds in short pods. They are runners so they will need to be staked. A delicious way of preparing them is steamed and laced with butter. Best of all, there are no strings; hence the name Lazy Wife.
If you have enough room for a few rows of corn, consider inviting Silver Queen or Golden Queen, or mix the two for random ears of white kernels infused with gold. These ears are large and sweet, and the kernels are beautiful. A real hit and a welcome friend at a summer meal.
Another favorite friend I hang out with in the garden is Diva, and she always lives up to her name. She is definitely the star of the cucumber patch. If I had to pick only one cuke friend, she would be it. Her attributes: crisp, sweet, tender, with tiny seeds and a lovely, smooth green, spineless peel that is enjoyably edible.
My pepper friends can be sweet or hot. Anaheim, Jalapeño and a little bitty charmer, Pequin, are just hot enough for me. If you find seeds from this southwest native, Pequin, you will find a smoky flavor that packs just the right punch for a winter chili. Pequins dry perfectly and last for several months.
Although seed potatoes are available early and can be planted in our Zone 7 gardens as soon as March 15, some people wait until Good Friday when the moon phase is said to be optimal for planting root crops. Good producers are Kennebec, red Pontiac and almost any blue variety. I veg out with potatoes because I love cold summer potato salads.
Please make room in your garden for a variety called Space. It is unique because of its sweetness and crispness while tolerant of high temperatures. It really produces.
I have truly enjoyed sharing a few of my many garden friends with you. Additional loyal and honored companions are Trombetta squash, Cherokee Purple tomatoes and Sun Sugar and Chocolate Pie cherry tomatoes. I always look forward to hosting their annual reunion, anxiously awaiting the moment they all show up on the scene. May veggin’ out with the best be as rewarding to you as it is for me!
B.B. BARNS is located at 3377 Sweeten Creek Road in Arden. Garden center hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, year round. Landscaping services are available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more visit BBBarns.com. Letha Hinman is B.B. Barns’ horticulture expert.