An Illustrated Guide to Fun and Exciting New Garden Plants

April 6, 2016

The vegetable garden is getting a makeover this year. I am filled with spring energy and can’t wait to make a transformation!

As I am making plans to rework the raised beds and clean up the paths, the seeds of change are arriving in the mail.  The goal is to create room for some new experiments which means removing many of the opportunistic strawberries – since even with a steady stream of eager self-pick neighbors and friends, we still cannot keep up with what seems like a hundred pounds of strawberries coming on in a few short weeks. The new rototiller (check out the review of my Troy-bilt Bronco Axis) will be getting a good work out as this gets sorted.

I love trying out interesting plants – and in particular, things that give me an opportunity to make different food or to play with interesting materials for other projects.  This year, I am also hoping to let my garden inspire my artistic side a bit more than I have in the past.  In a conscious effort to practice art making more regularly I created this series of watercolors (the full set is in the Spring Issue of P+V). They are illustrations of some of my planned experiments.

cotton plant illustration by rochelle greayer

Cotton (Gossypium species)

I picked up my seeds for red foliated cotton (available From Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) at Terrain in Westport, CT a few weeks ago. I’ve been pinning images of beautiful and inspiring arrangements to my cutting garden pinterest board. I’m excited to play around with pairing them with other florals later this fall and winter as well as maybe painting them again too (this was my favorite illustration of the set!) .

glass gem corn illustration by rochelle greayer

Glass Gem Corn (Zea Mays)

My son has a school project this summer to raise/ earn some portion of the funds needed to go to a Nature’s Classroom (like sleep-away camp but part of regular school) program with his class this fall. His (our, my)  plan is to grow a bunch of glass gem corn and sell them at the farmers market. They are beautiful and unexpected and if you live in New England, you know that fall is an occasion for strewing pumpkins, cornstalks and anything else that might look ‘fall-ish’ (like colorful corn cobs) all over the place. We are hoping that a flash sale of colorful corn will be just the small-scale farming coop he needs to the cash that is his portion.

ground cherries illustration by rochelle greayer

Ground Cherries (Physalis prunosa)

I confess, I grew ground cherries a few years ago — so they are not actually new to me… but I didn’t really get to play with them as it was the summer that I was writing my book, and my time was short. I just ate them directly from the plant (they were so sweet and delicious) but this time around I want to cook them and enjoy them more in the kitchen.  I’m all about dessert-making with them….

rat tail radishes illustration by rochelle greayer

Rat Tail Radish Pods (Raphanus caudatus)

Matt turned me on to rat tail radish tops…. he’s a foodie too and loved them in salads and stir fry (which I plan to try) and anywhere a crunchy tangy vegetable would make a good addition (sandwiches maybe?).  I want to try making pickled rat-tail radish pods… I imagine them to be an amazing condiment for a spicy Bloody Mary.

What are your plans for the 2015 season?  Are you trying anything new and interesting?  I’m always interested to hear about what surprised you and what you had success with.




(It is a full list of the best places to buy organic and open pollinated seeds for just about anything you want to grow in your garden)

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images and illustrations by rochelle greayer. 

Dislcosure: This post is sponsored by Troy-bilt. I am not an employee of Troy-bilt and all opinions are my own.


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  1. Matt Mattus says:

    Just checked my Rat Tails this morning – they are LOVING the cool weather, but have not set flower buds yet. Looks like June! But a fall crop is totally on the menu, for sure!

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