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Any hidden gems for culinary gardening?

I'm curious if anyone's got any places they seek out for buying herbs and vegetable plants around here. I'm interested in both interesting, varied selections and value.

For example, Ricky's in Union Sq Somerville sells lots of vegetable seedlings in 6pks for just a couple bucks (as opposed to something like $3 each in pint containers at Home Depot, etc). They also have parsley similarly priced parsley, so you can get 6/$2-3.

Normally we just do everything from seed, but we ran out of time this spring.

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  1. For the last few years, I've been getting my tomato and herb plants at Ferraras Greenhouse in Hyde Park. It's a family run business that's been located in a residential/conservation area for years. I use to buy my tomato plants from Herb Lyceum for few years and each year, they would develop a white fly problem. The flies looked like tiny pieces of lint. A friend told me about Ferraras, and their tomato plants have been healthy every year since I switched to them. I live in a hi-rise and put them out on the balcony, so I don't think it's likely they were exposed to those flies after I bought them. I'll be going to Ferraras in the next few weeks for this season's plants. Very helpful and friendly people too.

    4 Replies
    1. re: catsmeow

      I've toured the greenhouses at the Herb Lyceum, and let's just say that your issues with whiteflies coming from their stock are not a surprise.

      1. re: loper

        They are selling a terrible plant. I spent more time and $$$ trying to get rid of them.

        1. re: loper

          wow. I thought they had such a great reputation. Thanks for the information.

        2. re: catsmeow

          I also buy herbs and flowers at Ferrara's. Reasonable prices and very helpful people (especially the woman) makes me happy to support a small local business.

        3. Ricky's has nice stuff and I've shopped there for flowers myself.

          For herbs and lettuce seedlings we usually go to Russo's. which has a nice selection of reasonably-priced plants. Around Memorial day we go to Russell's Garden Center in Wayland for larger plants - we grow in containers, so we usually get just one tomato plant, a couple of peppers and a couple of cucumbers. They have a mind-boggling selection! Their prices are not really cheap but seem reasonable for good healthy plants in varieties that are harder to find.

          1. Russo's has some. Lyceum Herb farm comes to some farmers markets with seedlings.

            But I'm always trying to find sorrel, lovage, lemon balm, citrus and purple basils, etc. Please post if you find any!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Madrid

              You'll find all of those and more at Russell's Garden Center in Wayland.

              1. re: Madrid

                Mahoney's in Winchester has a great variety in high season. I was there two weeks ago and the pickings were slim, they did have sorrel and a few other less common things though.

                1. re: soylent_greens

                  Second on Mahoney's -- we went about 3 weeks ago and got sorrel, purple basil and lemon balm.

              2. oh, and Verrill Farm has seedlings as well, with a great heirloom tomato collection.

                1. I usually go to Russo's and Wilson Farm.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: bear

                    After heading to Russell Garden Center in Wayland thanks to Allstonian and Jenny, I will definitely head there first from now on. They have a huge selection and the plants look really healthy.

                    1. re: bear

                      Today's haul from Russell's included poblano, ancho, bush cucumber and black cherry tomato plants, plus a variety of herbs.

                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                        I remembered your post and searched out the black cherry tomato plants when I was at Russell's today. Two of those will go into an Earth Box tomorrow. Russell's is definitely the best.

                        1. re: black_lab

                          Wish I had passed on the yellow grapes and gone with the black cherries. Oh, well, there's always next year. I've over-planted as it is.

                          1. re: black_lab

                            Be warned: Black Cherry is an indeterminate variety. The plant gets really gangly!

                            On the other hand, we harvested right up until frost, then picked all the remaining green tomatoes and wrapped them in newspaper to ripen, and we ate the last of them the night before Thanksgiving.

                    2. The Herb Farmacy's stuff is always fantastic http://www.theherbfarmacy.com/ They sell at Farmer's Markets in season, but otherwise you can buy from them in Salisbury.

                      I'm in an egg CSA at Meadow Mist Farm in Lexington http://www.meadow-mist.com/ and I am fairly sure I saw them list Heirloom tomato seedlings for sale last year. I've seen lots of plants in her greenhouse but I don't know how many of them are for sale, or will be. She's very committed to organic gardening, if that's important to you. The site isn't always up to date and her Facebook posts are fairly frequent and not always focused on what's at the farm that week, so it's not the best way to stay up to date, but she has an email list. She recommends you email first before stopping by, laurenyaffee@gmail.com to schedule a time to come.

                      Lexington Community Farm's farmstand http://lexfarm.org/ just opened last week, but I think they plan to sell plants. Right now I think it's just flowers for sale but I am sure they'll have vegetables and herbs. They're also trying to focus on organic, from what I understand. Address: 52 Lowell Street, Lexington, MA Hours: Wed – Fri: 2 pm – 7 pm; Sat: 9 am – 5 pm; Sun: 10 am – 4 pm.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Chris VR

                        Also I've always had luck finding a great variety of tomato and cucumber varieties at Mahoney's in Winchester.

                        1. re: Chris VR

                          I've gotten veggie and herb plants from the Mahoney's in Allston (and Falmouth) and got pear tomatoes that did well last year from Stillman's at the Govt Ctr farmers market. I know Allandale Farm in Brookline has plants but haven't purchased there myself.

                        2. re: Chris VR

                          A plug for Lex Farm - last weekend, we picked up several tomato varieties (many new-to-us, but we've only been gardening for 3 years), Swiss chard, leeks, spinach, lettuces, kale amongst others I can't remember right now. Prices were $4 for 6-packs, $3 for herbs, I think $4 for 4 packs of tomatoes. Everything looked fantastic and healthy. The new farmers are young, enthusiastic, and kindly doling out advice for us newbies. Inside, they had small bags of dried beans and grains from a local place whose name escapes me. but I'll be sure to pick up next time. The great volunteers really did a lot to spruce the place up. And as an added bonus, we love that we can walk to the farm!

                          PS Don't quote me on the prices...

                        3. Suggestion: buy in 4 packs rather than 6 packs if you can, and if you can't, consider a 6 pack to be the equivalent of a not very healthy 4 pack when comparing prices. Also consider whether more is better: I wouldn't know what to do with four parsley plants, let alone six. If you only need one plant of a particular type, and you can find a well-grown specimen in a 4 inch pot for $3, you're getting a good deal. Buy quality, not quantity, and don't niggle on price.

                          1. It's also definitely not too late to seed-start certain plants such as greens. Consider how much you actually use, buy maybe one or two plants to get you started, seed-start some more now and they'll be ready when you need them.

                            1. I get some mixed heirlooms and good herbs at River's Edge in Framingham.

                              1. I was at Market basket this weekend and they were calling their seedlings, hearty veggies. I saw broccoli, cabbage and lots of lettuces, not arugula yet. I got mine there last year and it was prolific! MB does tend to run out of stock quickly though.

                                1. Pemberton in N. Cambridge has quite a few herbs (different basils, lemon verbena), and the usual vegetables. If anybody's looking for tomatillo seedlings, I found some last year at a place I can't remember the name of, on your left going north on 3A just south of Sichuan Gourmet in Billerica (after Mahoney's didn't care that they were selling ground cherries as tomatillos).

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Aromatherapy

                                    Griggs is the name of the Billerica place. They had tomatillos again. Nice selection--not crazy deep but what I needed and good prices, plants look very healthy.

                                  2. CSA's! I belong to Brookwood farms and they do a plant sale annually. And amazing and unusual variety of herbs and vegetables. This year I got a purple tomatillo, husk cherry, garlic chive, and lemon cucumber. I would guess other local farms do the same thing. Best of all its open to the public so you don't have to be a CSA member to buy plants.

                                    1. It depends on what you're looking for, but if you want tomatoes or hot peppers, it may be worth your while to take the trip to Laurenitis Farm in Amherst/Sunderland. I don't know anywhere else that sells multiple varieties of bhut jolokia (or even one, tbh), and if your needs are less extreme (like mine), there's still plenty of variety. Got pasilla, 2 types of poblano, jwala and a thai pepper, yum.