Plant categories: helpful for garden planning

I organize my seed inventory into eleven categories. Four of the groups are based on Linnean botanical classification (which Family or Genus they are in). The other seven are based on what we grow them for: what role do they play in our menu planning or landscaping?

The Brassicaceae family (or “Brassicas” for short) has members that fit into almost all of these groups and I put them there instead of grouping them together. This is because the groupings are meant to help you plan diversity of food types you grow from an eating perspective–are you looking for a salad green like arugula, a substantial side dish like cauliflower, or an edible ornamental border like Sweet Alyssum? All of those are Brassicas. Although the Braassicas have many similarities, like quick germination, cold tolerance, and edible flowers, some are extremely quick to get from seed to harvest (baby kale or bok choi) while some require an early start and a full season to get to maturity (like Brussels Sprouts). This family is sometimes known as the “cruciferous” vegetables, for the four lobes on the flowers, and their distinctive cotyledon shape: two leaves with two lobes each, making another a four-part pattern they have in common.

The twelfth group (not listed here) would be fungi! Oyster mushrooms are the type I have the most experience growing but I plan to try some others soon.

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