There’s nothing quite so rewarding as picking your own vegetables for cooking. With April showers coaxing us to get gardening, we’re planning our essentials and considering new additions this year. Vegetables like peas, arugula, beets and asparagus are all inspiring us this year.
If you’re looking to grow more than tomatoes this year, we’d like to share our working list with you, so you can garden like a chef!
Anise Hyssop: With lavender-blue flowers and a taste of licorice, this perennial plant grows well in almost all climates and makes for a wonderful garnish to seafood and cucumber salads.
Arugula: This cool green grows best in spring and fall, and it is one of our favorite greens for the season.
Asparagus: Our asparagus has been in our garden for almost 15 years and we eat them raw right after we pick them. We grill them as well, but nothing compares to the sweet and nutty flavor of freshly picked asparagus.
Beets: These cool season veggies need to be thinned pretty regularly, but you can use the thinnings for pickling.
Edible flowers: Borage, a bright blue/purple flower that tastes like cucumber, has a very high yield and is a beautiful topping to salads and raw fish dishes in the summertime. We let our onions go to blossom too! The flowers have a very strong and floral onion flavor which is a great topping to grilled steaks and other meats. They are also great for attracting bees.
Eggplant: This perennial plant grows like tomatoes, pepper and potatoes. They like lots of sun and extremely fertile soil, don’t forget to nourish your soil with amendments if necessary.
Herbs: In our garden, heartier herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme and zaatar seem to do better than the softer ones such as basil and cilantro. Be sure to check out our full list of herbs we like to keep in the kitchen, along with helpful pairing suggestions.
Peppers: Bring on those peppers! We love having the variety of peppers on-hand in our garden, off of Callahan ranch at 5700 ft. Our favorites are shishito, jalapeño and poblano.
Root vegetables: All root vegetables do really well in our garden. Our favorites include a wide variety of carrots, turnips, radish and beets. Although we really can’t beat those carrots we get from Avenzino farms.
Snap Peas: We love having these on hand because of their bright, crisp flavor. These are great either raw or cooked. We eat them fresh off the vine.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are every Northern Nevadan gardener’s pride and joy, and we’re no different. We love the sungolds because of the high yields. Whether you’re eating them raw, cooked, dehydrated or sun-dried, sungold tomatoes are super sweet and versatile.
Zucchini and Other Summer Squashes: Zucchini are also high yielding and much more flavorful than store bought varieties. There’s really no comparison. If you’re planning on growing tromboncino squash, use a trellis. Those vining plants will get out of hand fast.
A Few Quick Garden to Table Tips
- Do a little planning before the planting. You know what you like, and you know your current culinary ambition level. Keep your lifestyle and household needs in mind before heading out and buying all the seeds.
- Pickle your thinnings! Spring vegetables are the best for pickling, and thinnings make absolutely beautiful pickles.
- Grow what you eat most of. While it can be fun to see a huge variety of herbs and vegetables in your garden, if you only really eat brussel sprouts, lettuce and tomatoes–and you don’t see yourself giving it all away–stick to what you eat.