Botanical Garden Edible Garden is More than Meets the Eye

By Pat Naughton

  There is a Thanksgiving bounty in the Edible Garden of the Brunswick County Botanical Gardens.  This demonstration garden features colorful plants that taste just as great as they look.  Many of the plants in the garden will be maturing in November. 

  Experienced Master Gardener Volunteers Gail Pfeiffer, Craig Farland, and Gayle Capel are the leads for these gardens.  They have a team of Master Gardener Volunteers working with then to maintain the garden.  Typically, the volunteers are working in the garden on Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to Noon.  This is a good time to visit and ask questions.  The volunteers enjoy working in the garden and sharing their experience of the challenges of gardening in Brunswick County.  The favorite vegetable for most of the team is tomato.  One of the favorites is Sun Gold Tomato.  Mike Tullai, known as “The Tomato Guy of Ohio”, has found the best way to grow tomatoes here is in a pot.  Mike favors the Garden Gem tomato developed by the University of Florida.  These seeds are not yet available for sale.  You can get 15 seeds by making a $10 donation, just Google University or Florida Garden Gem.

  Brunswick County generally has mild winters, which allows gardening all year long.  The selection of plants in the Edible Garden changes throughout the growing season.  There is more than just the usual kale and collards in this Fall’s crop.  In addition to lettuce, carrots, beets, broccoli, rutabaga, endive, spinach, there are two varieties of kale, blue knight and scarlet.  Gail Capel is the main propagator for the garden.  “I really like Fall gardening, it’s a great time for mustard greens”, said Gail.  Gail selected four mustard greens to try out, Japanese Red Giant, Ruby Streaks, Dragon Tongue, and Green Wave Fall.  Each of these add color to garden and a bit of spice to a salad.  There are several plants that are great for oriental cooking, Tatsoi, Mizuna Summer, and Mizuna Beni Houshi.  Tatsoi is beneficial in the garden as a trap plant.  Insects go for the trap plant instead of the other plants nearby.

  In 2017 this garden won first place in the North Carolina Extension Master Gardener Search for Excellence Award for the Southeast Region.  It is amazing how many plants are grown in this small garden.  Stop by the Edible Garden at 25 Referendum Drive and taste the beauty of Fall gardening.

Learn More!

For more information about growing vegetables in Brunswick County, visit, where you can post a question via the ‘Ask an Expert’ link.