Five Edibles You Can Plant This Week in Metro Phoenix

Tomato seedlings.
Tomato seedlings.
Courtesy Vynnie MacDaniels

Vynnie MacDaniels, better known as Vynnie the Gardener, is a self-described "dirt monger." He teaches a "Vegetable Garden Design for the Desert" class through the Valley Permaculture Alliance, and we sat down with Vynnie last week to get some tips. According to Vynnie, permaculture is stewardship. It's not about building a perfect garden through force of will but using some basic principles to manage garden that mostly manages itself.

He suggested five edible plants that people could start now and enjoy for months to come. They were selected for these simple reasons:
1. Easy to grow from seeds or transplants.
2. Easy to care for and harvest.
3. Grows quickly to a point where it can harvested and can be continually harvested for some time.
4. Makes seeds that are easy to harvest and replant for next year.
5. Versatile in cooking.

Vynnie's recommendations after the jump.

5. Green Onion
First, these can be planted between plants to act as a pest repellant. When you harvest them cut them off above the base so they can regrow. Allow some to grow until they flower because this will attract pollinators. Why do you want pollinators?

"Without pollination, all you get is plants with flowers. It's the pollinators that turn those flowers into fruit. In addition, some pollinators act as pest control, managing unwanted critters."

4. Lettuce/Kale/Chard/Spinach/Choi
Leafy vegetables such as lettuce can be ready for harvest in a little as 30 days when they are young and tender. When they start tasting bitter, let them 'bolt' to flowering so that you can attract pollinators.

3. Squash/zuccini
Winter or cool season varieties are best for planting going into fall. If they have a large bloom (flower) those can be harvested and eaten as well. Harvest your squash frequently (don't let them hang on the vine forever) to encourage the plant to grow more.

2. Beet
Beets are delicious on their own but remember that the tops and leaves are also edible. A single seed cluster produces multiple plants, maximizing the bang for your buck.

1. Broccoli/Broccolini/Broccoli raab
Vynnie has an excellent post on his blog about how you can eat almost all the parts of the plant. Those parts, leaves and stems, can be harvested as early as 30 days after you plant. The flowers of these plants is also an excellent pollinator attractor.

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