What’s growing this year in our test gardens.

Bam-Bam contemplates a leafy oxheart carrot that’s bigger than her head.

Carrots that grew bigger than a bunny’s head were just one of the surprises in the Gardener’s Supply display and test garden this summer. An heirloom variety introduced in 1884, Oxheart carrot is short and thick, typically growing 3-4” wide, but only 5-6” long. Ready to harvest in 90 days, they easily reach a pound or more in weight, making them good candidates for long-term storage.

Lemon-yellow pea pods startled many garden visitors. Edible-podded Golden Sweet Peas from Seed Savers Exchange, were delicious eaten right in the garden or added to salads or stir fries, according to Sarah, one of our test gardeners. The catalog description of this unusual variety says that the seed was collected at a market in India and is the only yellow-podded pea in the Seed Savers inventory of 1,200 pea varieties. As an added bonus, the 6-foot-tall plants have ornamental, two-toned purple flowers.

The broccoli, chamomile, and onion combination bed turned out to be big winner in the pest control category. Sarah set the broccoli and chamomile transplants in a checkerboard pattern with rows of onions between each strip and around the edges of the raised bed. Remarkably, the broccoli was free of cabbage worms until the chamomile died back in late summer. In companion-planting lore, chamomile also improves the flavor of onions and cabbage crops, plus it attracts beneficial insects.

For more on companion planting and growing food in your landscape, visit the National Gardening Association’s article, “Growing Garden Companions” or the article at the North Dakota State University Extension Service.

-Ann Whitman
Horticulturist, Gardener’s Supply
Golden peas and companion planting

Golden peas, left, and companion planting with chamomile, broccoli and onions.