Little Veggies, Lots of Flavor

August 12, 2012 | By | Comments (6)
Munchkin Garden

Illustration courtesy of Bonnie Plants.

The past May, Grumpy found himself among some of the most creative gardeners in the country at the Garden2Blog blogger’s event hosted by P. Allen Smith in Arkansas. One of Allen’s sponsors, Bonnie Plants from my home state of Alabama, challenged everyone to design a really cool miniature vegetable garden measuring a mere 4 feet by 4 feet. Much of the delight of all sentient beings, Grumpy’s entry, “The Munchkin Garden,” (shown above) was chosen as one of the winners!

Little Garden for Little People with Little Mouths

Grumpy had three goals in designing this.

  1. Make something attractive that combines a number of different, easy-to-grow plants in a small space.
  2. Create something that anyone could copy (and then pay Grumpy HUGE royalties).
  3. Put together a fun garden that kids like, because veggie gardening is the best way to get young people excited about gardening in general.
Garden Blueprint

Illustration courtesy of Bonnie Plants

Garden Blueprint
The garden consists of 4 plants on each side, spaced 1 foot apart. Because of the formal shape, I anchored each corner with one ‘Boxwood’ basil (#4 below). This basil gets its name from its small leaves and tight shape. It looks like a little boxwood. The leaves have that spicy, basil flavor I like for pasta, grilled lamb, etc.

Top Hat blueberry

‘Top Hat’ blueberry. Photo courtesy of Logee’s.

I thought the garden needed a centerpiece, so I added a decorative pot filled with a dwarf blueberry called ‘Top Hat.’ ‘Top Hat’ (#1 above) grows only 20 inches tall and 24 inches wide, plus it doesn’t need a pollinator to set fruit. It’s great for growing in containers and here the pot gives it a little extra height. The berries are delicious — although thanks to your ravenous kids, you’ll probably never get a chance to discover this.

Cherry tomatoes

Sweet ‘n’ Neat tomato. Photo courtesy of Bonnie Plants.

Tiny Tomatoes
Grumpy doesn’t like raw tomatoes (a feeling shared by THOUSANDS OF OTHER PEOPLE), but his wife and son do. So each end of the garden contains two Sweet ‘n’ Neat cherry tomato plants (#2 above). This determinate variety grows only 10 inches tall and 8 inches wide. Judy loves them for salads. Brian just pops them in his mouth in a vain attempt to fill that bottomless pit that could swallow a Dodge.

Peppers

Yummy Snacking Pepper. Photo courtesy of Bonnie Plants.

Sweet Little Peppers
Grumpy does like peppers, though, especially colorful ones he uses for a variety of healthy, delicious dishes he fixes for his grateful family.  So the remaining two ends of the square contain two each of two miniature sweet peppers (#3 above). Yummy Snacking Pepper (below) produces oblong peppers of yellow, orange, and red and is nearly seedless. Sweet Red Cherry Pepper bears fruit that look and taste just like the name. I could have used hot peppers, but little kids picking hot peppers is not a hot idea.

Fall-ternatives
I know, I know — my design is magnificent and inspiring and all, but it’s August. Why plant basil, tomatoes, and peppers now? Don’t. Just leave the blueberry where it is — its leaves will turn a beautiful red in fall — and substitute cool-weather veggies for the hot-weather stuff.

  1. In place of the basil, plant cabbage.
  2. In place of the tomatoes, plant lettuce.
  3. In place of the peppers, plant kale, Swiss chard, or mustard greens.

Your munchkins will be so excited.

COMMENTS

  1. Suzanne Tuck

    What are dimensions of the boards? 4 x ? X ?

    August 12, 2012 at 6:34 pm
  2. Crystal

    I used to receive your blog by email, but it has now stopped, for reasons unknown to me. I have checked around a bit and cannot see how to resubscribe. Can you help me.? I really enjoy your blog.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:36 am
  3. Loisann moore

    I absolutely love your sense of humor! I just found this site a moment ago , looking for “Crepe Myrtle” help. I read a lot of your answers and the comments. Just love you …..if everyone had “our” sense of humor….what a wonderful world it would be.

    August 14, 2012 at 11:02 am
  4. What’s Happening in the Garden — August 24 | The Salem Garden

    [...] Little Veggies, Lots of Flavor (thedailysouth.southernliving.com) [...]

    August 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm
  5. Kat mcvac

    Do your ideas/veggies work for central Florida— East coast near the beach?

    September 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm
  6. Steve Bender

    Kat,
    I think all of the plants would work there, except for the blueberry. An excellent substitute for that would be ‘Orange Blossom Special’ dwarf pomegranate. It’s in our Southern Living Plant Collection. Here’s a link: http://southernlivingplants.com/shrubs/plant/orange_blossom_special_dwarf_pomegranate

    September 4, 2012 at 11:18 am