AdviceDIYSan Francisco

East Bay Unwrapped: What Does Your Garden Grow?

Updated: Jul 08, 2011 18:50
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“Eat me!”

Are you a true broke ass? Then you should know that growing your own food is a great way to supplement your monthly grocery expenses, especially in the spring and summer months.  It’s also incredibly rewarding to watch the product of your hard work thrive. And that, dear friends, is priceless.

So you’ve read both of Chloe’s posts about how to prepare a garden for FREE (parts one and two), but now you’re wondering what kinds of plants will tolerate our clay-filled soil in the East Bay. Well, I’ve been there, done that, and I know what to do differently next time. If you’re a novice green-thumb, start your garden out with a combination of veggies that will be sure to flourish, like these:


1. Tomatoes: The tomato selection at your local horticultural center can be overwhelming. There are Romas, San Marzanos, Killer Tomatoes, etc. Here’s where my advice comes in handy. Cherry tomatoes, specifically the Super Sweet 100 variety, proved to be an unstoppable force in my garden. I only had one plant, and it was more than enough (sometimes too much) for our two-person household. The Celebrity tomato, which looks like the first image that pops into your head when you hear the word “tomato,” also did quite well. Although half way through summer it had a meltdown, spat anti-semitic epithets at the other veggies, and went on a cocaine binger. Life as a Celebrity tomato can be tough. To keep your tomatoes happy, plant them in full sun and water them only a couple times per week. And send them to rehab, if necessary.

2. Dinosaur Kale: Unlike real dinosaurs, it’s nearly impossible to wipe these guys out. My kale plants have survived the Ice Age that is the Bay Area winter, even though I’ve severely neglected them. Dinosaur kale is especially hearty, and it retains water very well. It prefers a cooler climate and will turn bitter if the weather gets too hot. Luckily, we don’t have much of a summer (enter Mark Twain quote here), which is why you can grow it year round. It’s an ideal vegetable for those of you who won’t be able to spend much time in the garden. It’s strong and independent, and it don’t need your help, Mr. Human Man.

Bowl o'beans.

3. Beans: Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart; the more you eat, the more you’ll love them! Well, I hope that’s the case, because if you plant either Pole beans or Royal Burgundy bush beans, you’ll be up to your ears in ’em. Like the name suggests, Pole beans require a pole or trellis structure to grow. If you don’t provide this for them, they will attach themselves to your other plants and choke them. And you know how the Celebrity tomato needs its space. The Royal Burgundy bush bean, on the other hand, is less aggressive and definitely not haughty. Both of these plants’ tags state that they require full sun, but I got away with planting them in partial sun. Still, the more sun the better.

4. Summer Squash: Squash is so funny looking, why wouldn’t you want to grow it? You can play squash-o-phone for hours on end! It’s also a delicious summer treat that just begs to be grilled. Squash grows outward on a large vine, so it definitely requires some personal space. Sun exposure should not be compromised here; summer squash prefers as much sun and heat as atmospherically possible.

5. Herbs: This one’s kind of a no-brainer, because you can grow herbs pretty much anywhere. However, some herbs should not be planted in the ground. Chives, dill, and even parsley are usually too fragile to be embraced by Mother Earth. Potting your herbs is the best way to ensure that you’ll get a full season out of them. Rosemary and basil are my standbys, because they have a high yield and taste great. Plus, you really have to try to kill rosemary. If it dies, maybe gardening isn’t for you.

Thanks to 365 Horror Movie for the pic.

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Mia Di Pasquale - Scroungy Scribbler

Mia Di Pasquale - Scroungy Scribbler

Mia is a nice Italian girl from an exotic Italian colony called New Jersey.  She studied English Literature and Screenwriting at Drexel University in Philadelphia and has no intention of ever being a teacher.  Instead, she produces low-budget films with her crew/friends, one of which actually won a contest hosted by AMC and judged by Mr. Robert (Rob) Zombie.  She currently lives and loves in beautiful Oakland, California, which, she maintains, is just as great as and even sunnier than San Francisco.