By Nina Evans
Some great fruits and vegetables, along with some tasty herbs, were grown in the White River Gardens’ City Garden this year. Plants that grow up rather than out, choosing dwarf varieties, and using containers allows you to fit a lot into a small space. Last year I grew the largest tomato plants ever (Mortgage Lifter), plus some gorgeous honeydew melons, green beans, and gourds. All of these are vines that make a fairly small footprint in your garden, as long as you tie them up to suitable trellises or other structures. I just kept creating larger teepees around that tomato plant as it grew!
A plant that is both a vine and dwarf in the City Garden this year is the golden midget watermelon, started from seed. It is a cute little thing, with fruit growing to 3 pounds max that turn yellow when it is ripe.
Combining oldies but goodies along with plants I’ve never grown before is part of the fun. It can also show you some things that work and some things that don’t. In the early spring, collards and radishes joined the lettuce, sugar snap peas and beets that I nearly always grow. The summer again yielded some healthy-looking tomatoes, melons and cucumbers (this year a white one, called Edmunson). But Venus, a new tomato this year made quite an impression on me. The plant grows to be only 5 inches tall and is great in containers.
Okra and celery were an experiment this year. Purchased at a local garden center in the spring, the tall but narrow okra plants just kept producing without taking up a lot of room. The celery, called ‘Pink Plume’, was started indoors early from seed. The stems do have a pinkish hue, and they certainly taste like celery. I think more water (and lower temperatures) would have given mine a nicer texture.
A unique, edible vine has been a favorite of mine for years. Malabar spinach is a gorgeous, tropical vine with shiny, deep green leaves and interesting flowers. I love Basella rubra, which has striking reddish stems. Not a spinach at all, you can use its leaves the same way you would spinach. When cooked, you get a spinachy flavor without the wilting. The raw leaves have a bit of a peppery taste. I grew Malabar spinach at home against the west side of my house and had a few come back from seed the following year.
I have only been able to cover a portion of what has been growing in the City Garden. Come to White River Gardens and see for yourself what you can grow and eat from your garden, no matter its size!
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