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Garden in the City: Mid-Season Power Rankings

LINCOLN SQUARE — I'm not saying I play favorites among my plants but ... I play favorites among my plants.

As the mid-point of summer approaches — meteorologically speaking — some clear winners have emerged in the garden.

Rookie of the Year: Peas. With their long, leggy vines and pale purple blossoms, peas are like the supermodels of gardening. They haven't been particularly productive to date but they're so pretty, I kind of don't care. Not to mention the way the vines' tendrils grab onto anything within reach for support — trellis, neighboring onions and tomatoes — which I find both fascinating and kind of adorable. I swear I caught two of my pea shoots giving each other a hug.

Rising Star: Broccoli. As someone familiar only with the broccoli heads sold in supermarkets, it's been an education watching the crowns emerge from the protective folds of massive broccoli leaves. Someone seriously needs to record a time-lapse video of this process — I would totally watch it on a continuous loop.

Most Valuable Player: Greens. Normally, I'm not one to get excited about salad but our greens have been doing all the heavy lifting this first half of the gardening season. While our tomatoes and peppers have taken their own sweet time becoming tomatoes and peppers, the greens have been ready to harvest from Day One.

We salute you arugula, even though you bolted immediately and are almost too spicy to eat. Bravo silky Swiss chard, World's Healthiest Food! Way to go kale — I didn't want you in the first place but Dave insisted on giving you a chance and I grudgingly concede you haven't been half bad. Hurray generic lettuce — we can't remember your technical name but you have been crazy prolific.

Dark Horse: Carrots and onions. Secretive little buggers, these two, shyly going about their business out of sight. They're either up to no good or preparing to blow me away with their awesomeness. We shall see.

On another note, a new pest has emerged and is turning my bean leaves into Swiss cheese. I've yet to identify the culprit — return of the pill bug or some new fiend? Gardening forums recommend I conduct a commando raid under cover of darkness, when all manner of blighters tend to be at their most active. I've killed before, and I'll do it again.

To follow my gardens' progress between columns, check out my Tumblr blog at http://gardensinthecity.tumblr.com. This week's highlights: green tomatoes. Note the plural "s" in gardens — I'll be posting photos of my nonedible flower beds, too.