This weekend’s adventure: Prepare to start your summer garden with flowers, vegetables and herbs from Red Wagon Plants.
What to know: Located in Hinesburg, Red Wagon Plants is open for the season from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Online shopping is also available with curbside pick up on Fridays.
My experience: This weekend in New Jersey, my parents will most likely be out in the yard.
In her gardening gloves, my mom will pull weeds and dried leaves from the flower beds and the garden plot. In the only pair of work boots I ever remember him owning, my dad will remove the winter cover from the patio set and blow the bright green pollen from the stone walkway.
Every year, the weekend after Mother’s Day is spent this way. By mid-May, the weather is more temperate, predictable, the sun finally warm enough to set the basil by the front door, plant the first tomatoes in the backyard.
Vermont is of course a bit behind New Jersey weather-wise. The Green Mountains are not yet truly green. And though I don’t have much of a yard, just a few sunny concrete steps, I’m itching to get some dirt under my fingernails.
Earlier this week, I drove to Red Wagon Plants on Shelburne Falls Road in Hinesburg to explore my options.
Opened 15 years ago by Julie Rubaud, Red Wagon specializes in organic plants for kitchen gardens, small spaces filled with the vegetables and herbs you love to eat and to cook with.
Outside on Wednesday, the aisles were lined with rows upon rows of leafy greens — kale and Swiss chard, spinach and bok choy. Inside one of the many greenhouses, which were shimmering in the early morning sun, tomato plants and culinary herbs lined the walls.
I had come in search of basils and parsleys, which I’ll grow in pots on my front steps. I stood in front of the many varieties for several minutes, before turning to a staff member for help. She smiled kindly and swiftly began holding up different basils to show me the differences.
Tulsi, or Holy Basil, I now know, is used as a welcoming plant near the entrance to homes in India. It has a soft pineapple scent and makes a great tea. Pistou Basil grows full and round like a bush, its leaves so small chopping isn’t necessary.
My tall Italian parsley, I was told, would likely block the Pistou’s sunlight though, so I opted for the reliable Sweet Genovese.
Watch for frost: At the register, I was told the parsley and basil would both do well in direct sunlight, but to watch out for the still chilly nighttime temperatures.
My basil should be brought inside each evening for the next few weeks, until the temperature is reliably above 50 degrees at night. Parsley is a bit hardier and should survive kept outside.
What I’ll cook with my herbs: I’m looking forward to using both to make pesto: finely chopped and ground with drizzles of olive oil, freshly-cracked pepper and parmesan.
The basil I’ll put with a thick slice of heirloom tomato, fresh mozzarella, a swirl of balsamic. The parsley will garnish shrimp scampi, buttered salmon and sheet pan chicken with leeks.
Go this weekend: Quite frankly, I could have spent hours at Red Wagon Plants, but my desk was calling. If you go this weekend, treat yourself to a walk between the rows of annuals and perennials. Stop to read the meticulous labels, which share care instructions and historical details.
The drive home along the rolling hills of Dorset Street will be divine too.
This Weekend with Bridget is a recurring column. Every week, she recommends a place to visit or a way to have fun at home. Have you visited one of her recommendations? She’d love to hear about it. Email Bridget at email@example.com.