Two issues cause havoc when growing celery: time and water. Celery is a long crop: 120 to 180 days from seed to harvest. Second, the plants need consistent water. Soil must retain water well (translation: rich in organic matter), but you should also water regularly. Most growers tie a clump of stalks together to keep them upright. To get celery to be a lighter green and sweeter, growers blanch stalks by shielding them from sunlight. You can also grow self-blanching varieties.
The whole issue with onions is growing the right type for your region. Onions form in response to how many hours of daylight they receive, so you need to choose not just the right onion but also the right planting window. Once onions are in the ground, they’re pretty easy. But definitely do your homework on the front end to make sure you’re getting the right kind.
Flavor-packed ‘Pinto Gold’ is a gourmet’s potato. The purple and gold-colored jackets, or skins, hide a white flesh that's high in starch. Bake and serve this variety unpeeled to add color to the table.
Wonderful lemon aromas arise from the glossy leaves of this pretty thyme. It grows well in small pots and is a great choice for an apartment garden. Use the leaves or whole stems to flavor fish, veggies, salads or beverages.
For success with parsnips, you need a long, cool growing season. These tasty roots grow best between 45 and 75 F. They also need time to mature—100 to 130 days from seed. If your summer tends toward high heat, you might not be successful with parsnips. This crop also needs a deeply tilled soil that’s loaded with organic matter. It’s best to prep soil two to three months prior to planting. You must plan ahead for parsnips.
Aromatic ‘Elidia’ is a sweet, compact basil that’s ideal for growing in pots, although this warm-season herb also flourishes in sunny gardens. It's a type of Genovese basiil that resists turning bitter in slow-cooked dishes. It's also fine for making fresh pesto.
‘Fidelio’ is an improved selection in Italian (flat leaf) parsley. Use the dark green leaves and stems to garnish a plate or chop them up to season stews, meatballs, and other dishes. The plants have intermediate resistance to Downey Mildew.
Leaf lettuce is a snap to grow, but raising a picture-perfect head lettuce is definitely tricky. Pests like aphids, slugs and earwigs all feast on the leaves, and growing conditions need to be spot on. Head lettuce needs uniform moisture and a long, cool growing window. Once summer days start lengthening, lettuces go through a process known as bolting, where they start to flower. Bolting destroys the head and makes leaves taste bitter.
The Pilgrims grew pumpkins that also looked like this short ribbed beauty. This is a moschata type of squash and was grown for both people and livestock to munch. Moschata pumpkins store well, providing a source of fresh food in winter. ‘Long Island Cheese’ pumpkin dates to the early 1800s and is a coveted pumpkin for pie making due to its nearly stringless flesh.
Round Parisian market style carrots are the perfect size for pots. Roots are ready to harvest when they reach 1 inch across. Tops grow to 6 inches. Take care to avoid drought stress, which causes the round roots to elongate.
A pretty perennial in Zones 4 to 9, anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) brings a pop of purple to the garden. The eye-catching blooms are pollinator magnets, attracting bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Harvest leaves or purple petals to flavor teas and water. You can use either leaves or flowers fresh or dried. Anise hyssop thrives in full sun in well-drained soil.
Most gardeners raise kohlrabi for the bulb-like stems, but the leaves also offer a nice nibble. If you harvest just a few, you won’t risk reducing stem size. To enjoy a mess o’ kohlrabi greens, you can pick to your heart’s content throughout the season—just don’t expect to have any fat stems to savor.
Parsley would have been a part of the small garden a Pilgrim wife tended near her home. Pilgrim recipes suggest stuffing parsley—“as much as can fit”—into the cavity of a cooking bird, such as turkey or chicken. After boiling the bird, the parsley was recommended to be removed and then chopped to be part of a serving sauce.
For the Pilgrims, corn wasn’t yellow and sweet, but more of a colorful affair, much like these ears. The colonists dried the kernels on the cobs, later pounding the dried corn into meal or flour. Corn was a part of nearly every meal in some form. ‘Painted Mountain’ is a high yielding corn developed in Montana from over 1,000 strains of commercial corn and that grown by Native Americans. It tolerates drought and cold, yielding in a short growing season.
This heirloom beet offers tender roots and bright red leaves perfect for the salad bowl. The Pilgrims prized beets for greens and roots that stored easily through cold winters. Beets would also have been used to feed livestock at times.
This beauty goes by many names: Texas tarragon, yerba anise and false tarragon. The leaves deliver an anise-like flavor that can sub for French tarragon in dishes. Gold blooms appear late in the season and linger into fall. Petals are edible and make a nice addition to autumn salads and desserts. Harvest leaves as needed, or pick many at once and air dry for long-term storage.
Pumpkin was a food staple for the Native Americans around Plymouth, and they shared the knowledge of how to grow it with the Pilgrims. While some early pumpkins were actually types of winter squash, some were similar in appearance to the classic New England pie pumpkin.