Hooray! Spring arrives in 10 short days. And if you will give me two hours of your time, I would love to inspire in you the same love-of-veggie gardening my dad inspired in me decades ago.
It’s often said that some things, such as a passion for gardening, are better caught than taught. And when it comes to veggie gardening, I’m very infectious. In just two short hours, you’ll leave my “All About Veggies” lecture scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 30, in the Tulsa Garden Center auditorium, 2435 S. Peoria Ave., with a heart-felt passion for planting, nurturing, harvesting and cooking spring veggies. And, yes, I did say “cooking.” I simply must share several garden-to-table recipes that perfectly highlight the flavors of freshly picked okra, tomatoes and squash, corn, etc.
So why don’t more people plant spring veggies? Excuses abound. The most common being: I have two brown thumbs. Nonsense! It’s amazing how quickly a little gardening knowledge will transform one’s thumb color from brown to emerald green. For instance, simply selecting the best adapted veggies for our local growing conditions goes a long way toward assuring veggie gardening success. I’ve enjoyed tremendous success growing certain varieties of tomatoes, onions, squash and peppers, along with a new and gorgeous “red” okra variety known as Candle Fire. This new All American Selection okra is so beautiful it looks perfectly at home growing in a traditional veggie garden or in an ornamental flower bed.
Also, there is new dwarf winter squash known as Butterscotch that absolutely thrives in my garden. It’s super delicious, nutritious and easy to grow. While these new hybrid veggie varieties are truly awesome, I haven’t given up growing certain heirloom veggie varieties, also. Several years ago, a friend shared a few seeds of an ancient Iraqi watermelon known as Ali Baba. If a watermelon can stand the hot desert climate of Iraq, my friend reasoned, surely it would flourish in Oklahoma. And he was right. I’ve grown this beautiful heirloom melon for several years, and it’s as sweet a melon as I’ve ever tasted. Ali Baba is now available through Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, a national mail-order seed company.
I could point out many other great veggie choices for our area, which is exactly what I intend to do during the March 30 “All About Veggies” lecture. I’ll not only list my favorite veggie varieties, but also I’ll show you gorgeous PowerPoint images of each variety, along with practical tips on how to grow them.
Also, I haven’t forgotten Garden World readers who live in apartments and condos. Part of the lecture will be devoted to growing veggies in containers on a sunny deck or patio. There is an amazing sweet potato variety, for instance, that consistently produces 15-plus pounds of dark red yams when grown in a 20 gallon container on my patio. When my squealing grandkids were given the green light to yank and pull the big taters from the pot this past summer, you would have thought they had discovered a pot of gold. Harvesting fresh home-grown veggies is always fun, regardless of one’s age. Just ask anyone who has ever popped a home-grown, sun-drenched cherry tomato into their mouth, a true flavor bomb if ever there was one.
The first 100 to enroll in the All About Veggies lecture will receive a colorful garden ditty bag, perfect for toting seed, tools and veggies to and from the garden, a gift certificate from Southwood Landscape and Nursery, and a packet of Newton basil seed, a 2019 basil introduction that has none of the strong licorice aftertaste commonly found in other basil varieties. Enroll online at tulsagardencenter.org. Enrollment cost is $5 and pre-enrollment is strongly encouraged.
Barry Fugatt is director of horticulture at the Tulsa Garden Center, 2435 South Peoria. He may be reached at 918-576-5152 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.