A Kitchen Garden Primer

I recently had lunch with Gary Nash, a biodynamic farmer with Cycle Crop Farms in Oregon. Nash supplies farm-fresh produce to many of Portland’s restaurants, and even grows crops onsite when eateries have their own gardens. I, myself, am a novice gardener, so I sought Nash’s expertise on what to plant for culinary use.

Here’s what he suggested:

Purslane: A juicy, edible weed, this leafy plant is actually quite nutritious. It’s a rich source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.

Lettuces: Nash specifically suggested Aussie yellow lettuce and merlot lettuce, two varieties that would provide pretty contrasting colors—yellow, and deep, deep red—in the summer salad bowl.

Cherokee purple tomatoes: This large, beefsteak-style cultivar is beloved both for its big flavor and beautiful hue.

Lamb’s quarters: Another wild weed, this leafy green and Swiss chard relative is also nutrient-rich. Eat it as you would spinach.

Nash also advises home gardeners to plant calendula, borage, and nasturtium. In addition to being edible, these lovely flowers (read more about edible flowers here) attract beneficial insects to the garden, and keep unwanted pests at bay.


Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule.






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