Garden of Eatin’
Do you love that extra kick of fresh mint in your mojito, or savory rosemary and tangy lemon for salmon on the grill? With a few tips from the experts at Oakland’s Star Apple Edible Gardens, you can serve your own farm-to-table cuisine.
What you’ll need:
A pitchfork, a shovel, organic compost, and starter plants and seeds. Star Apple’s Stefani Bittner and Leslie Bennett love Oakland’s Kassenhoff Growers’ hardy plants. “They’re grown outdoors here, not in a greenhouse somewhere. They’re acclimated to the East Bay,” Bittner says. For seeds, try varieties from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Petaluma.
Best bets for beginners:
Start simple with herbs: rosemary, tarragon, thyme. “Herbs are big winners, and they’re perennial,” Bittner says. For a salad garden, add some arugula, black-seeded simpson, and speckled romaine. Consider a dwarf Meyer lemon tree: “Fruit trees just hang out and look beautiful; they don’t need daily maintenance.”
Keep it organic:
No chemicals, please. You are what you eat.
Make it pretty:
Mix aesthetics with edibles by planting ornamental flowers and succulents, Bennett advises. “You’ll take better care of your garden if you enjoy being there.” For the best of both worlds, grow edible flowers like nasturtiums.
Ready, set, harvest:
You can start harvesting those basil leaves for your pasta sauce or cocktail right away. “Just leave at least three leaves on the plant for photosynthesis,” says Bennett.
Bennett and Bittner recommend Orchard Nursery in Lafayette, which offers choice locally grown plants.
Not digging the digging? Star Apple and other local landscape and garden firms can design, install, maintain, and even harvest your garden for you, leaving a basket of your own homegrown edibles on your doorstep.
For more, visit starappleediblegardens.com.