Vegetables are the mainstays of our gardens– and our dinner tables. We await their arrival every spring and savor each season with simple meals from the garden. Read on for info on growing, harvesting, and preparing some of the varieties in your box.
Annual, up to 5’ vining. Well-drained soil and full sun. Use care when planting as seedlings can resent having their roots disturbed. Plant 12” apart along a fence or between 4’-tall garden stakes and tie up with string for easier harvest. Will easily climb if encouraged. Regular watering will ensure consistently-sized fruits. Cucumbers are fast growers. Once the first fruits appear, check plants every other day. Must be pollinated by bees to fruit.
Cucumber, Chicago Pickle
55 days. These vines put on lots of high-quality fruit and fast. The thin skins make for great eating raw and as the name suggests, the most excellent fermented pickles.
60 days. The perfect companion to the green apple cucumber. These little yellow fruits are also a great snack and an attractive addition to summer salads. Crunchy and delicious.
Cucumber, Richmond green apple
70 days. Unlike other apples, these guys grow many fruits in a single season! These cucumbers are a perfect snack– small, round, crunchy, and sweet. They have no bitterness and they are satisfying to eat, even with the skin on.
Eggplants have lovely purple blossoms that catch the eye in any garden. They prefer well-drained soil and full sun. Space plants 18” apart and be careful not to over-fertilize. Too much nitrogen can promote leaf growth rather than fruiting. Fruits can be hard to pull from the plant without snapping a branch—use a knife or scissors to harvest. Plants may also benefit from some support or trellising when branches are laden with fruit.
Egglant, NY Improved
75 days. Dark purple fruits on compact, productive plants. Teardrop-shaped with very smooth skin and creamy flesh.
Leafy greens prefer well-drained soil and full sun. Some afternoon shade in the hottest months may keep plants producing for a longer season. Most leafy greens reach harvestable size within 60 days of transplanting. Monitor for pests and water during hot or dry spells to keep the plants healthy and productive. Plant 12-18″ apart.
60 days. Dark-green, wavy round leaves with tender whitish-green stems. Collards can be continuously harvested spring thru fall, or new plants can be started in the fall for overwintering. Watch out for cabbage moths! Remove cabbageworms and yellow egg casings by hand or cover the plants with a light fabric to prevent moths from laying eggs. Collards are delicious in stir fries, sautéed with garlic and olive oil, or simmered in a pot with bacon.
Kale, Rainbow Lacinato
55 days. Also called Dino and Toscano kale, we love this variety for it’s beautiful purple stems and the small variations in leaf shapes. Plus it’s tender and delicious. Kale can be harvested continuously spring-fall. Young leaves are delicious in salads with cherry tomatoes and lemon-garlic dressing. Kale can also be added to any stir-fry or stew, or simply sautéed with olive oil and garlic.
Swiss chard, Bright Lights
55 days. The most eye-catching of garden greens. Beautiful, wavy green leaves with stems of bright orange, yellow, red, and white. The same species as beets, these are grown for their prolific and versatile greens. Chard can be harvested spring thru fall, or new plants can be started in the fall for overwintering. If allowed to overwinter plants will flower and go to seed the following spring. Excellent in omelets, sautéed with garlic, hot pepper, and toasted sesame seed oil, or added to a skillet of chickpeas.
Head lettuce, Buttercrunch
60 days. Plant in full sun, or in a spot with some afternoon shade in the summer. Prefers well-drained, but well-watered soil. Harvest leaves individually or cut the whole head just above the soil level. Harvest in the coolest hours of the day (morning or evening) and submerge in cold water promptly after harvest to maintain freshness.
Most onions are sensitive to day length and will start to form a bulb after the summer solstice. Plant in rich, well-drained soil with full sun. Onions dislike competition, so keep well-weeded. Space each plant 6” apart.
Bulb onion, Stuttgarter
100 days. Slightly flattened, sweet yellow onions. Harvest when the bulbs have begun to form a papery skin and the leaves begin to yellow and flop over. Use fresh or hang in a dry place to cure (develop a tight, dry skin) before placing in storage.
Peppers love well-drained soil and full sun. Space plants 18” apart. Like other solanaceous (nightshade) crops, be careful not to over-fertilize. Too much nitrogen can promote leaf growth rather than fruiting. Fruits can be hard to pull from the plant without snapping a branch—use a knife or scissors to harvest. Plants may also benefit from some support or trellising when branches are laden with fruit.
73 days. Bright orange snacking pepper. Super sweet and prolific. They are bite-sized peppers, perfect for a lunchbox or picnic. You can eat them green too, but they are sweeter when fully orange and ripe!
75 days. A sheepnose-type pimento pepper. Those are ribbed and slightly flattened, with thick flesh. Ripens to bright red. Pimento type peppers are known for being sweet and perfect for roasting. Slice in half and stuff with grits & cheese, or black beans, or veggies and rice. Or embark on some homemade pimento cheese.
80 days. A truly beautiful and unique pepper. Ripens to a deep yellow. Slightly flattened and ribbed like a pimento pepper. Sweet and juicy! This variety hails from Hungary.
Pepper (mild hot), Ausilio
75 days. An Italian frying pepper. Bright red and blocky, up to 5″ long. Mild heat (less than a jalapeno). Excellent for throwing in a hot skillet with onions, squash, and whole cherry tomatoes.
Pepper (hot), Padron
65 days. A Spanish pepper served as tapas. Similar to a shishito, but firmer texture, thicker flesh and slightly more heat. Toss in olive oil and salt, then blister on a hot skillet. Hold by the stem and snack away.
Potato, French Fingerling
100 days. As potatoes go, these are most elegant. Pink skins with firm yellow, pink flecked flesh. Plant the spuds about 3″ deep, 12″ apart. Once the sprouts emerge, mound soil around the base of the plant to prevent the spuds from being exposed to sunlight (and turning green) and allow more room for the potatoes to grow. Harvest in mid-summer after the leaves have died back. Roast with some garlic, olive oil, and salt!
Summer squash love the sun and heat. But do be careful to keep the seedlings well-watered until they become established! Space plants 18-24″ apart in a section of your garden where they will have room to vine. Cover plants with lightweight fabric until the onset of flowering to keep plants warm and protect from insect pests. Must be pollinated by bees to fruit.
Summer squash, Goldmine
50 days. Yellow zucchini with light green stripes. Firm texture and nutty flavor. Excellent producer.
Summer squash, Zephyr
55 days. Slender yellow squash with green ends. Produces well even in hot and dry conditions. Best harvested at 4-6″. Slice in half, toss in olive oil, minced basil and garlic, and roast, throw on the grill, or add to a stir fry.
Tomatoes & Tomatillos
Tomatoes and tomatillos love full sun and well-drained soil. Both can grow roots from their central stem; bury the plant up to the first set of leaves (3-8” deep) to grow sturdier, well-rooted plants. If you would like to encourage larger fruits, pinch back all of the branches up to the first flowering stem. Space plants 1-2’ apart in rows that are 2-3’ apart. Avoid adding too much nitrogen to the soil as this promotes leaf growth rather than fruit production. Trellising or tomato cages will prevent fruit-laden branches from breaking and will make harvesting easier.
Tomato, Costoluto Genovese
85 days. This beautiful red tomato is quite the eye-catcher. Slightly flattened with deeply ribbed sides, it’s bright flavor and smooth texture make it equally suited for fresh eating or making sauce.
Tomato, Green zebra
80 days. Stands out among tomatoes for it’s beauty and flavor. Slightly smoky, juicy, and not overly sweet, these small-sized 4oz fruit will bring your summer salads to the next level. They ripen to a lovely greenish-yellow with green stripes. Skins resists cracking from too much rain.
70 days. Clusters of smallish, 8oz red fruits. Produces well even in tough conditions. Fruits are easy to eat all in one sitting. Delicious raw or made into fresh salsas.
85 days. Yellow and red striped fruits with a silky smooth, marbled interior. Originally from Kentucky. Slice in half laterally to see that the inside mirrors that of a pineapple with swirls of red and yellow. Juicy, sweet, and wonderful roasted and tossed with olive oil & garlic.
Tomato, Purple Russian
80 days. Actually from Ukraine. 3-4″ elongated fruits with a purplish luster. Unlike a paste tomato, to which they have a similar shape, these are meaty and juicy. Great for fresh eating and also for sauces.
Tomato, Striped German
85 days. A lovely red and yellow ribbed fruit with a beautiful marbled interior. Fruity and smooth textured.
Cherry tomato, Black Cherry
70 days. Tracey’s favorite cherry tomato. Large, round cherry tomatoes with dark purple-green skin. Fruits are up to 1” diameter and have a complex flavor, much more like a full-size slicing tomato. Very prolific and produces longer into the season than other varieties. Wonderful roasted or added to salsa.
Cherry tomato, Green grape
90 days. Little grape tomatoes that ripen green with a yellowish blush. Plants have a slightly unusual growth habit and can take longer to reach full fruit production than other cherry tomatoes. Slightly spicy flavor.
Cherry tomato, Sweetie
65 days. Bright red, round, cherry tomatoes. Firm and sweet. Prolific plants with long stems of fruit.
Paste tomato, Orange banana
85 days. Orange you glad we said banana? Beautiful, bright 3-4″ fruits make a sweet, glowing orange sauce. Dry flesh and few seeds, just as you would seek in a paste tomato, but still juicy enough to slice and eat in a salad too. We enjoyed continual harvests of them even after other tomatoes stopped producing in last year’s garden.
Paste tomato, San Marzano
90 days. An Italian standard for making sauce. Cylindrical fruits have dry flesh, few seeds, and great tomato flavor. Deep red fruits can be up to 5″ long.
Tomatillo, Rio Grande
80 days. Holy smokes, we were surprised by the size of these tomatillo fruits! These are big, round, green tomatillos with beautiful papery husks. They are true workhorses of the garden; they come on early and produce until fall. We find that they also like to self-seed, but we always appreciate when they come back.