Tomato and Herb Report
Our edible gardening is a bit of an afterthought. We have a small bed in the front garden devoted mostly to herbs and a few tomato vines with some annual flowers mixed in. The tomatoes and annual herbs were planted late this year due to the cold spring.
This bed is semi-hidden from the street by our ‘Donald Wyman’ Crabapple and a variety of ornamental perennials. At the far south end there are patches of Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and Oregano (Origanum vulgare), both of which are perennial. Every year I have to take a pick ax to the Oregano to keep it from taking over the entire bed.
We actually don’t use these two herbs very much, but the flowers are like magnets for pollinators and beneficial insects.
This year we have four tomato vines, each of a different variety. ‘Early Girl’ already has lots of green tomatoes about the size of golf balls. This variety’s medium-size tomatoes ripen by the middle of July.
There’s also ‘Green Zebra’ and ‘Genuwine’, two varieties that ripen later in the season. ‘Green Zebra’ is green with yellow stripes when ready to pick, and is an old favorite of ours. ‘Genuwine’ is a cross between two heirlooms that I bought more or less by accident, but maybe we’ll really like it.
There’s also my favorite cherry tomato, ‘Black Cherry’, growing on a tuteur opposite a ‘Multi-Blue’ Clematis. I look forward to seeing the deep blue Clematis flowers contrasting with the dark red cherry tomatoes.
One thing I learned this spring is that if you plant Borage (Borago officinalis) once, you never have to plant it again. (Same goes for Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare.) I pulled up most of the Borage seedlings but I’m allowing three plants to mature. Though the leaves and flowers are edible, to be honest I grow Borage for the blue flowers only. They have just begun to bloom over the last week.
We’ve planted some other annual herbs, namely Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) and Thai Basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora). These are herbs we use frequently.
We’re also growing some Common Rue, but only because it is a host plant for Red Admiral Butterflies.
That reminds me, I can’t forget about the Parsley (Petroselenium crispum), which we grow because Judy cooks with it but also because it attracts Black Swallowtail caterpillars. This is the first year we have seen any caterpillars on the parsley, which is pretty exciting for us.
Herbs really are best when just picked, but otherwise I’m perfectly happy to buy vegetables at the Farmers’ Market. Judy feels differently, however, and so we do grow our own tomatoes. Even so, this bed has a mix of plants that tries to meet the needs of pollinators as well as people.
How are your tomatoes doing so far this year? What are your favorite herbs to grow?