In 2011, we'll be offering even more herb and vegetable transplants at the farmers' market. Tomato transplants will be available from May 1st through July 4th, and Genovese basil and cilantro will be available all season. Other herbs will be available at different points during the season--we're always starting more of our favorite standbys and experimenting with new varieties! Here's an overview of what we'll have (in-depth descriptions of our favorite plants and varieties follow):
Herbs: Basil (Genovese, Greco, Summerlong, Lime, Lemon, Fin Verde a Palla, Profumo di Genova, Spicy Globe, Sweet Dani, Aroma, Quenette, Holy), cilantro, peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, dill (Dukat, Tetra, Mammoth), flat-leaf parsley, sage, thyme, savory, epazote, rosemary, borage, common chives, garlic chives, calendula, chamomile, comfrey, oregano, lavender, and more.
Tomatoes: San Marzano, Legend, Mortgage Lifter, Black Krim, Golden Ponderosa, Amish Salad, Juliet, Green Zebra, Arkansas Traveler, Cherokee Purple, Chocolate Cherry, Lemon Drop, Banana Legs
Big Italy Parsley: This is our favorite flat-leaf parsley. Under the right conditions, it can grow to epic proportions, and its bright, fresh flavor is the perfect accent for vegetable and meat dishes alike. Forget that tasteless grocery store parsley--this is the go-to culinary variety!
Genovese Basil: When you think basil, you're thinking of the Genovese variety. With large, shiny leaves and a smooth flavor, Genovese basil is traditionally used for creating fresh pesto. We like to use Genovese leaves to form the bulk of a pesto and add a handful of either Greco or Summerlong leaves for depth of flavor. With the proper care, Genovese plants can grow up to 3' in both height and diameter, making for some truly monstrous foliage. (A hint: deliberate, heavy harvesting is a major key to achieving that kind of size with Genovese plants.)
Greco Basil: Unlike the traditional Genovese basil you usually see in grocery stores, Greco basil has small, matte green leaves that are packed with peppery flavor. This variety also has a different growing habit than the Genovese and forms dense, bushy plants that are perfect for container gardening in limited spaces. A few of the flavorful leaves go a long way--they're great for spicing up pestos, bruschetta, tomato sauces, and salads--so we recommend this variety for those who love a lot of basil flavor.
Summerlong Basil: This variety of basil exhibits a growing habit quite similar to that of the Greco variety, with small leaves packed into dense bushes. Summerlong has a lighter, more delicate flavor than the Greco and is a good variety to try if you're looking for something with a little more flavor than the Genovese, but don't want something as pungent as the Greco. Like the Greco, Summerlong is ideal for container gardening in limited spaces.