The Garden’s Tallest Plants; Battle Grande!

June 23, 2008

Officially it’s only the beginning of the summer growing season, but I already have a few plants contending for bragging rights as the tallest plant in the veggie garden!

While most of the garden’s plants are nowhere close to maturity, a few edibles have already reached lofty peaks and now spend the summer days posing and flexing all over the vegetable arena.

Introducing the Big and Beautiful Ms. Angelica Herb

Angelica, the first contender weighs in at close to five feet tall and is a full-bodied four feet across at the shoulders. Don’t let the name fool you because this diva is about as tough as herb plants come. She has occupied the end of one raised bed for the past three years and shows absolutely no inclination of allowing anyone else to muscle in on her territory.

Ms. Angelica is accustomed to having her way around the garden and is usually off and growing before her competitors even realize that spring has arrived. A fast riser, everyone in the garden was forced to bow before her during March and April. Despite her size and strength angelica is a real cutie with that reddish blush, the sexy, exotic-looking leaves, and who can avoid staring at those huge seed pods that she puts out there for all to see!

Yes, Angelica has a much publicized history and reputation; as a medicinal herb that is, but she also has a sweet and delicate side that’s right at home in the kitchen and is used as a flavoring. I admit that I’m mainly attracted to her physical characteristics and I couldn’t care less about Angelica’s edible or medicinal qualities. She earns a spot in my garden based solely on her good looks.

The Last Hurrahs of Parsnips Gone to Seed

In the next corner is a tag team of Parsnip plants rising an intimidating seven feet in the air. These are lean, mean, seed making machines that are flashing their flower clusters for all of the pollinating insects to see and admire. In only their second consecutive season in the garden this root crop is making quite an impression.

Parsnips are a biennial plant so these bad boys won’t have a chance to defend any titles won, but instead will pass their crowns on to the upstart juvenile parsnip plants that are currently in their first year of training. A quick glance at the youngsters and you’d never believe that their destiny is to one day tower over the garden.

They draw their strength from the tasty roots, which are sweet flavored even if they aren’t the most popular root crop in the garden. Compared to carrots but it’s obvious that the much larger parsnips are the body builders of the group. I like to leave a couple of the plants to go to flower for the seeds and to attract their followings of beneficial insects.

Lovage Reigns as Summer Arrives in the Veggie Garden

The final challenger is a formidable one, the incredible perennial Lovage herb plant. She established herself and maintained her place in the garden for a number of years, but has never grown as enormous as she has this season. More than a few eyebrows and questions are being raised in private over the drastic change in her physique since last year.

It looks like there’s really no competition, I’m guessing that the lovage plant is a good eight feet tall and still growing! And she’s pretty cocky with the way that she is throwing her weight around the raised bed and out into the garden’s pathways. I sense a foul and a pruning penalty being assessed against this big bully in the very near future.

Just like its personality in the garden, Lovage has a very distinct and strong flavor that can be overpowering if you let those edible leaves run wild in your recipes. Lovage finds its way into salads, smoothies, and as a seasoning for cooked dishes as long as you don’t over do it and remember that a little of this big herb goes a long way!

Taking on all Comers from Gardens Far and Wide

That’s a quick rundown of the heavyweights in the garden this spring. It is amazing how tall these plants have grown, but stay tuned because it’s still early and new challenges are expected to be thrown down by my heirloom tomatoes, the mighty cardoon plants, those climbing runner beans, or maybe even from a giant okra plant or two!

In the meantime, I’m calling out all the big, bad, vegetables and herbs from other gardens no matter where they are. If you have a titan growing in your own garden that you’d like to pit against one of my champions just send in a photo or issue your challenge and the plant’s vital statistics in the comment section.

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  • Bill Dixon

    One of my okra plants grew to 14ft. 10 inches.
    I measured it when I pulled it down with my tractor. I did not measure the base to see the dia. I have a picture of this plant if you would like to see it.
    I pulled the plant over to cut the okra daily.

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