Grow your own

Themes are big these days, from restaurants to birthday parties and now even the vegetable garden. It is a fun concept and can even bring more of a direction to what you plant.

So what exactly makes up a theme garden?

It's whatever you want it to be. You can grow ingredients based on a favorite ethnic cuisine or things you want to can or pickle.

While we are almost at the end of the planting season, Kathy Hanson, an assistant manager at Sargeant's on 2nd Growing Center, says the soil is sufficiently warmed now and the weather consistent so that seeds should sprout quickly. Starter plants, of course, give you a head start.

Seed companies like Burpee have made it easy to grow a theme. At Sargeant's, the seed display is organized into several ethnic groups making it easier to choose. Want Spanish? There are seeds for various onions, radishes, sweet ruby peppers and tomatillos. Eggplant and plum tomatoes seeds are in the Italian section while popular Asian ingredients are also available.


Cooks Garden seed packets are aimed at gourmet gardeners, Hanson said. There are even recipes on the back of the packets.

So what are some theme ideas?

Hanson suggested a salsa garden, probably one of the most popular and easiest to grow. This includes tomatoes, chili peppers, green peppers, onions and cilantro. Add some leaf lettuces and you have a taco garden as well.

Asian-type ingredients also have become very popular. Tasty and colorful, look for snap peas, eggplant, mustard greens, Chinese celery, bok choy, chili peppers and radishes.

Thinking ahead to fall, you could have a soup garden of heartier vegetables like onions, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas and beans.

A garden with wide appeal is an herb garden which can also easily be grown successfully in pots. Include basil (think pesto), thyme, oregano, parsley, dill, chives, rosemary and sage.

Although you can't grow tea, you can add herbs that flavor it, like mint, chamomile and lemon balm.

Tomatoes are a basic in most gardens, but an heirloom tomato garden bring interesting and unusual varieties and flavors to the mix.


Geraldine Griffin at Whiting's Flowers and Greenhouse suggests Purple Cherokee, Green Zebra and Old German.

Want to get the kids involved? Put in a pizza garden, either planted in a circle or a wedge to resemble a slice. They can plant and be responsible for a few tomatoes, peppers and oregano.

And don't forget a Halloween garden with pumpkins.

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