Notes from Zone 6b - eat shoots and leaves
May 13th, 2011
07:30 PM ET
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Eatocracy's Managing Editor Kat Kinsman attempts to vegetable garden on a roof deck in Brooklyn, NY in USDA Hardiness Zone 6b. Feel free to taunt, advise or encourage her efforts as this series progresses.

I'm slightly miffed with everyone who ever neglected to tell me that not only are radish greens totally edible - they rival schmancy, pricey salad standards like arugula, escarole and mache for crunch and distinctive flavor. All you've got to do is wash and chop them, and if you have radish greens around, there's a goodly chance you have radishes as well. Oil, dash of vinegar, dusting of pecorino - boop! Salad.

radish salad

There I'd gone tossing out plenty of perfectly edible parts of vegetables for most of my life - cauliflower stems, citrus peels, greens of all sorts - until I started growing my own. When I nurture a plant from seed, I tend to encounter an odd ambivalence about actually eating it.

I'm astonished each and every time I manage to conjure and coax a vegetable into being. From a seed, some soil, a handful of rabbit poop and the water hauled jug by jug from the bathroom sink, carrots arrive on the roof of my Brooklyn kitchen. Heirloom tomatoes, peppers, celeriac, okra, cardoons, artichokes, cotton and ground cherries, too.

This is how nature works, but it amazes me every single time I have a hand in it and it feels like a violation to slip a knife through a tomato's stunning flesh or sink my teeth into a celery stalk. At the same time, while I doubt a blind taste test would bear me out, I'm solidly convinced that the herbs, fruit and vegetables I grow are a thousand times more delicious than those I'd buy at the store, or even (gasp!) the farmers market. Who could blame me for wanting to consume every last leaf and frond?

So I've dug in. With each plant that ripens, I research. Can I shred that stem into a salad? Are the leaves edible raw? No - how about sauteed? Rhubarb leaves are toxic, but boiled, make a potent organic insecticide. I avoid the potato and tomato leaves as well, but beet greens, pea shoots and squash blossoms will adorn my dishes throughout the growing season.

The Earth wants nothing more than to feed us. We might as well fill our plates.

Here, by the way, is a complete list of what I am attempting to grow. Wish me luck.

Planted Saturday, April 17th

Variety Producer Heirloom
Alma Paprika Seed Savers Yes
Ancho/Poblano Chile Seeds of Change No
Aunt Ruby's German Green Seed Savers Yes
Black Cherry Tomato Victory Seeds Yes
Broccoli Calabrese D. Landreth Yes
Brown Berry Tomato Seed Savers Yes
Cayenne Pepper Plantation Products No
Cherokee Purple Tomato Amishland Seeds Yes
Fushimi Pepper Harvest Moon Farms & Seed No
Hot Tabasco D. Landreth Yes
Italian White Eggplant Seeds of Change No
Kellogg's Breakfast Tomato D. Landreth Yes
Lao Lavender Eggplant Amishland Seeds Yes
Lombardo Pepper Franchi No
Long Island Brussels Sprouts Seeds of Change No
Martino's Roma Tomato Seed Savers Yes
Padron Pimento Harvest Moon Farms & Seed No
Purple Vienna Kohl Rabi Fort Berthold No
Red Cherry Hot Pepper Fort Berthold No
Red Peter Pepper Harvest Moon Farms & Seed No
Relleno Chile Seeds of Change No
Riesentraube Tomato Seed Savers Yes
Rossa di Milano Onion Seeds of Change No
Russian Purple Tomato D. Landreth Yes
San Marzano Tomato Plantation Products No
Thai Hot Pepper (Ót Hiêm) Evergreen Y.H. Enterprises No
Tonda Di Parigi Carrot D. Landreth Yes
Yellow Pear Cherry Tomato Seeds of Change No

Planted Saturday, April 2nd

Variety Producer Heirloom
Alpine Alexandria Strawberry Thompson & Morgan No
Ananas D'Amerique A Chair Verte D. Landreth Yes
Armenian Cucumber Botanical Interests Yes
Batavia Fullhearted Escarole Page's Seeds Yes
Bitter Melon Evergreen Y.H. Enterprises No
Burdock Ferry Morse No
Buttercup Burgess Strain Squash Seed Savers No
China Rose Radish Valley Greene Yes
Chocolate Beauty Pepper Seed Savers No
Clemson Spineless Okra Page's Seeds Yes
Cucumber Lemon Botanical Interests Yes
Daikon Radish Evergreen Y.H. Enterprises No
Double Yield Cucumber Seed Savers No
Early Snowball Cauliflower Page's Seeds Yes
Earth Chestnut Nichols Garden Nursery No
East Indian Lemongrass Thyme Garden No
Hungarian Breadseed Poppy Renee's Garden Yes
Jack Be Little Pumpkin Fort Berthold Brand No
King Richard Leeks Fort Berthold Brand No
Listada de Gandia Seed Savers No
Louisiana Long Green Eggplant D. Landreth Yes
Lutzert Tomatillo Amishland Seeds Yes
Mary Washington Asparagus Harvest Moon Farms & Seed No
Moon & Stars Watermelon Seeds of Change Yes
Nankeen Cotton Southern Exposure Yes
Naranjilla Baker Creek Yes
New Hanover Ground Cherry Victory Seeds Yes
Pasilla Bajio Pepper Botanical Interests Yes
Purira Pepper Seeds of Change No
Purple Tomatillo Seeds of Change Yes
Rampion Franchi Sementi No
Red Seeded Citron Seed Savers No
Rossa Lunga di Firenze Onion Botanical Interests Yes
Sesame Bene Nichols Garden Nursery No
Sharlyn Honeydew Seeds of Change No
Small Sugar Pumpkin Seeds of Change Yes
Snake Gourd K-Jay International No
Stinging Nettle Thyme Garden No
Strawberry Spinach Baker Creek Yes
Tai-Chung No. 11 Snow Peas K-Jay International No
Teatime Hibiscus Botanical Interests Yes
Tien Chin Long Cucumber K-Jay International No
Turkish Orange Eggplant Seeds of Change Yes
Vanilla Grass Thyme Garden No
West Indian Burr Gherkin Amishland Seeds Yes
White Bush Scallop Squash Fort Berthold Brand No
White Lisbon Bunching Scallion The Cook's Garden No
White Salsify Franchi Sementi No
Winter Melon Evergreen Y.H. Enterprises No
Yellow Crookneck Squash Seeds of Change No

Planted Sunday, March 27th

Variety Producer Heirloom
Cream Sausage Tomato Seed Savers Yes
Amish Paste Tomato Seed Savers Yes
Silvery Fir Tree Tomato Seeds of Change Yes
Dr. Carolyn Tomato D. Landreth Yes
Golden Roma Tomato D. Landreth Yes
Purple Calabash Tomato D. Landreth Yes
Great White Tomato D. Landreth Yes
Mr. Stripey Tomato D. Landreth Yes
Wapsipinicon Peach Tomato D. Landreth Yes
Black from Tula Tomato D. Landreth Yes

Planted Sunday, March 20th

Variety Producer Heirloom
Aunt Hettie's Stays Red Okra Victory Seeds Yes
Black Valentine Beans Southern Exposure No
Broad Windsor Fava Beans Southern Exposure No
Caraway Baker Creek Yes
Carciofo Romanesco (Artichoke) La Semiorto Sementi No
Cardoon Nichols Garden Nursery No
Chervil Page's Seeds Yes
Culantro Eryngium Page's Seeds No
Cumin Nichols Garden Nursery No
Dwarf Taylor Horticultural Beans Page's Seeds Yes
Edible Chinese Luffa Evergreen Y.H. Enterprises No
Erba Stella Franchi No
French Breakfast Radish Nichols Garden Nursery Yes
French Dinant Celery Nichols Garden Nursery No
Giant Prague Celeriac Victory Seed Co. No
Green Purslane Baker Creek Yes
Large Smooth Prague Celeriac Southern Exposure No
Purple Xi Su Perilla Baker Creek Yes
Red Burgundy Okra Seed Savers Yes
Roscano Liscari O Agretti (Glasswort) Bavicchi No
Salad Burnet Baker Creek Yes
Summer Savory Baker Creek Yes
Victoria Rhubarb Baker Creek Yes

Previously – Notes from Zone 6b – it's aliiiiive!



soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. JBJingles@Kat

    Wow, that is one impressive list! Best of luck to you and please share pictures...are they in pots or a raised bed??

    May 16, 2011 at 11:28 am | Reply
  2. Evil Grin

    Eats, shoots, and leaves. I like that book as well. It's therapy for punctuation sticklers.

    May 16, 2011 at 11:06 am | Reply
  3. Jerv

    Impressive list. Please do keep us updated. Kat, are you posting photos at your website?

    May 16, 2011 at 9:28 am | Reply
  4. Mildred

    Good luck with the garden!

    I found out that a local organic farm is delivering vegetables once a week to my office... I'm now on their order list! The first radishes are this week.

    May 16, 2011 at 9:18 am | Reply
  5. Shirley U Jest

    HMMm MMMmm HUMmmm- Well, Shut My Mouth... That must be some fancy roof. You go girl.

    May 14, 2011 at 2:02 am | Reply
  6. Tazer@Kat

    Awesome, Kat!!

    May 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  7. Peggy

    Well good luck on that loaded crop list! You're bound to strike gold with something =)

    May 13, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Reply
    • Kat Kinsman

      Thanks! Note I said "attempting." It surely ain't all working, but some of it is gangbusters.

      May 13, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Reply

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