Essential Edibles

Here are a few of my favorite essential veggies and herbs to grow. Some are common, some are new, but all are easy to grow. Give one a try this year.

‘African Blue’ basil is a perennial, shrubby basil. It does not make seed, so let it flower away and you’ll attract bees from miles around. I enjoy eating the flowers even more than the leaves.

‘Green Columnar’ basil is another perennial basil with wonderfully spicy leaves. Growing 5 to 6 feet tall with a columnar shape, it survives many winters that traditional basil does not.

Longevity spinach (Gynura procumbens) is one of the many new “miracle plants” said to ease medical conditions. The edible leaves on this sprawling perennial make it an excellent warm-season salad green. Be sure to check out the fragrance of the bright orange, button-like flowers.

‘Padron’ peppers (shown above) probably are the most popular milder peppers. This old variety, brought to Spain in the 1700s, is highly prized for its flavor. Watch out for the occasional fiery one!

Persian cucumbers have been a favored variety at Walter Andersen Nursery for the last couple of years. They mature rapidly and should be picked small (roughly 5 to 7 inches long) to take advantage of the thin skin, no seeds and sweet flavor.

Red celery is an old heirloom crop going by names like ‘Peppermint Stick’ or ‘Giant Red.’ Dark red markings on thin stalks distinguish it from other celery varieties.

‘Shishito’ peppers are one of the highly prized Japanese sweet peppers. Thin-walled, with a wrinkled, tapered shape, they often are grilled or sautéed until skins begin to blister.


Chuck McClung
Walter Andersen Nursery
3642 Enterprise Street
San Diego, CA
12755 Danielson Court
Poway, CA

Categories: Gardening