These varieties are proven performers in Southern Nevada. Here we have styled them like Liberace to highlight how well-suited they are to the Las Vegas area. On with the show! Starring the extraordinary, the amazing, the stupendous! Drum roll please…
‘Tavera’ bush bean
This “tender, stringless, and nutty-sweet” gourmet green bean, with its “exquisite flavor and delicate texture” (1) is favored by French chefs. It was cultivated for use in restaurants, and is in a group called filet beans or “haricot verts” (French for “narrow green beans.”) Filet beans have been selected for hundreds of years in France. Their pods should be picked when they are much thinner than most snap bean pods– about ⅛ to ¼ inches wide.
We welcome ‘Tavera’ from Paris to our own City of Lights!
‘Evergreen’ green (bunching) onion
If ever there was a plant with an ambiguous set of names, it is the green onion. Also called bunching onions, spring onions, salad onions, and scallions, true green onions (Allium fistulosum) are of a different species than bulbing onions (Allium cepa.) However, immature bulbing onions are sometimes grown very close together and harvested like green bunching onions, and so they are often informally called green onions. True green (bunching) onions stay thin at the base year after year, never widening into bulbs.
Yet another name for the green onion is the Welsh onion, although the plant is Asian in origin. (Still another common name is the Japanese bunching onion.) ‘Welsh’ here is used not to designate the country of Wales, but as an adjective meaning ‘foreign’.
If this plant were a tourist, then it would not mind visiting Southern Nevada in winter and hailing a cab to Mt. Charleston to play in the snow. Once established, green onions can survive winter temperatures much colder than Southern Nevada’s.
You could say this plant’s star has faded since spinach came along to replace it… but orach is ready to make its comeback in Las Vegas! This ancient, once-popular leafy vegetable comes in a variety of colors, much like its relative Swiss chard. The differences in flavor among different colors of orach leaves– which range from red/purple and yellow/bronze to pale green/white and dark green — are slight but consistent. All are reminiscent of spinach, possibly with some saltiness, depending on growing conditions.
Purple orach is known as the most beautiful of the orachs. It is displayed in flower arrangements and is widely valued for its ornamental uses in the garden, along with its edible quality. The French favor yellow- or bronze-leaved orach, which is said to have the best flavor. The name orach comes from the French arroche, for “golden,” a reference to these leaves.
‘Italian Large Leaf’ Basil
Basil is beloved by herb gardeners and cooks for its strong aroma as much as for its flavor, and this classic basil variety is especially aromatic. The leaves are extra large (up to about four inches long) and are often crinkled.
This is a Genovese type of basil, meaning it is a preferred type for making pesto, the traditional sauce of Genoa, Italy. It is on the sweet side for a basil of this kind, and is “regarded as the essential variety for true Neapolitan cuisine.” (2)
In years past, when ‘Italian Large Leaf’ basil visited the Las Vegas Strip, it might have felt right at home at the aptly themed Riviera Hotel.
‘Yoeme Purple String’ bean
This pole bean variety is anything but a tourist in the Southwest. On the contrary, the ‘Yoeme purple string’ bean has much to teach us about sustainable life in the desert. This plant is heat-tolerant, drought- resistant, high-yielding, and versatile. It can be harvested at the earlier green-bean stage or the later dry-bean stage. Pods are often a purple-tinged green, while the beans themselves (if left on the plant to mature to the dry stage) are beige shot through with purple.
‘Yoeme purple string’ beans have long been cultivated by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of southern Arizona.