Weekend Edible Plant Sales Promise Summer of Possibilities

Vegetable plants, such as the tomatoes above grown by Jan Dickey, pictured below, join shrubs and ornamentals at the Memphis Botanic Garden’s annual spring plant sale.

After hearing gardener Jan Dickey’s greenhouse story, I couldn’t help but purchase one of her “Black From Tula” tomato plants, a robust heirloom from Russia prized for its full-flavored fruit. One of three tomato plants left on Dickey’s table Friday at the Memphis Botanic Garden’s spring plant sale, the trio had weathered a rough winter in Dickey’s greenhouse at her Collierville home.

“We lost 1,500 plants because the wind blasted out panels in the greenhouse,” Dickey said, with a good-natured laugh at her cold-weather mishap. “Now my greenhouse is held together with red duct tape.”

An accomplished gardener, Dickey has spent the past few winters growing vegetables from seed for the Botanic Garden’s spring sale, which continues today until 5 p.m. Along with a few tomato plants, she is selling pepper plants, including Jimmy Nardello, a popular variety from Italy, sweet Chocolate Bells, early jalapenos, and the infamous Bhut Jolokia, or Ghost pepper, renowned for its heat. (Be forewarned: The Ghost pepper is 401 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.)

Other growers, including Dan West, round out a full complement of summer vegetable plants at the sale, the first of several annual events scheduled for the next two weeks. Vegetable growers should head tomorrow to Idlewild Presbyterian Church for the Grow Memphis sale from 1 to 4 p.m. Proceeds from the sale of the organic and heirloom plants (herbs, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, and annual flowers such as marigolds and zinnias) benefit the three dozen community gardens sponsored by the organization.

Gardeners who like native plants and hard-to-find species should also attend the Dixon’s annual plant sale, scheduled April 25 and 26 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sale’s selection of woodland beauties is always impressive, and the garden’s volunteer staff is helpful and knowledgeable.

Grow Memphis Edible Plant Sale: Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m., Idlewild Presbyterian Church, 1750 Union Ave.

Dixon Garden Fair and Plant Sale: April 25 and 26, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Dixon Gallery and Gardens, 4339 Park Ave.



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