Magazine article Sunset

Veggie Primer

Magazine article Sunset

Veggie Primer

Article excerpt

Cultivating your own edibles is easy and fun

My first foray into vegetable gardening started with two plants in paper cups, given to me as a gift. Because I have no "land" to grow anything on (I live in a second-story apartment), I put these two little guys-a tomato plant and a pea plant-in the cup holders of my car. I watered them with my water bottle and parked in the sun every day, thinking I had invented cup-holder gardening. But two weeks later, my plants didn't look so good. They needed help, fast.

Fortunately, I was able to find space for them in Sunset's test garden. I also enlisted the help of some staff experts in choosing and ordering seeds and seedlings of other vegetables. I chose seedlings in 2- and 4-inch pots of the following: basil (one plant), bell peppers (five), eggplants (two), 'Eight Ball' squash (two), green beans (five), sage (one), tomatoes (one), and yellow squash (one). I planted carrots from seed because-like corn and peas-they don't transplant well. The garden took 1 ½ hours to plant.

It was definitely a learning experience. Once, I turned the hose on at 11 a.m., intending to turn it off 30 minutes later. But at 10 that night, I arose from my couch in shock, like a mother who'd forgotten to pick up her kids from school: I'd left the hose on. Flashlight in hand, I returned to find my garden soaked, but the rest of the test garden was mercifully spared of flooding.

In spite of the mishaps, my first garden was a smashing success. To be exact, I harvested 9 carrots, 9 eggplants, 28 'Eight Ball' squash, 105 green beans, 8 peppers, 103 tomatoes, 17 yellow squash, and big bunches of basil leaves. The carrots and eggplants were my favorite-the carrots because I grew them from seed, the eggplants because they were gorgeous.

The best part of the experience was being able to make good use of my produce. I whipped up pesto for friends, grilled eggplant like it was going out of style, and packed my freezer with 2-cup bags of chopped squash for that rainy day when I'm inspired to make zucchini bread. …

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