FAQ: What should I plant?

  • One of the most asked questions I get is, “What should I plant in my garden?”

    My first thought is plant something you like to eat. Secondly, plant something that grows well in your area. I live in the Houston, Texas area zone 9a and I garden year round. I am not sure where you live but I think the spring/summer crops are the same – the dates just might shift a bit. There are other spring/summer crops to grow, this list is just what I have planted in my garden. While these work for me in my raised beds, you can have much success growing them in the ground or in containers too.

    I am just about finished with all my winter crops and will soon harvest yukon potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach and swiss chard. Those five things are the last hold over from my winter garden.

    My Spring/Summer Garden List:

    Blackberries: I planted five Natchez Thornless Blackberry plants last spring. They grew very well and climbed all over a wire trellis. I got a handful of blackberries. I pruned them back this winter and they have all come back again. This plant will produce for 10-15 years! Each year they should produce more. I already see many more berries than last year and hope to get a lot! I did not plant these in my raised beds. I built a cedar raised bed on the ground and put a piece of garden fence between two stakes for a trellis. Click on a blackberry post to see this.

    Celery: I planted this in the winter but I will try and keep it as long as I can. I just cut what I need and it grows back. I have never heard of anyone growing celery here in Texas but I looked it up on the internet and ordered some seeds online from amazon.com and it has done amazingly well. Just because you don’t know anyone that grows it in your area, do some research online and you might want to give it a try.

    Carrots: I just harvested a batch a few weeks ago and planted new seeds yesterday. These don’t get very long in my raised beds but if you garden in the ground, this is an easy crop to grow. The seeds are so tiny I have a hard time not getting them too close. Thinning is important.

    Basil: I planted this from seed about a month ago and it will grow to a big bush by the end of the summer. One tip is to pinch the top baby leaves off every few days. It loves to be pinched back, it grows bigger and bigger the more you pinch the tops off.

    Dill Weed: I planted this from seed and it is easy to grow and a great seasoning for cooking. I just cut off what I want and it grows back.

    Cilantro: In hot weather this turns to seed very quickly but I have managed to keep cutting it back and using it. This smells amazing!

    Tomatoes: These need to be on a trellis or cage for support. I bought 4 different varieties and am not sure the type I bought! All tomatoes are either determinate or indeterminate. The determinate usually bush out and have all the tomatoes come at one time and the plant is finished. These are great for people that love to can a lot of tomatoes at one time. Last spring I didn’t plant any of these but this year I know I bought a few. The indeterminate tomatoes usually grow much taller and are more vine climbing. They keep producing tomatoes all summer long. I am more inclined to plant this type as it seems the best for your money if the plant keeps on giving. I have found that the indeterminate are usually smaller tomato varieties. One trick on tomatoes is to be sure to fertilize and trim the extra leaves especially around the base of the plant. If you have a short season to grow tomatoes, either type will work.

    Okra: It loves hot weather and is easy to grow. I love okra in any way it is cooked and last summer I ate the smaller pods raw right out of my garden!

    Green beans: These vine so plant at the base of a trellis. I planted two varieties, the regular green beans and the rattlesnake variety with the purple stripe on it.

    Cucumbers: These vine also so they will need to climb on a trellis. I planted two varieties of these: pickling cucumber and the regular larger ones.

    Banana Peppers: I bought the plant at home depot and it is doing well. You will need to stake these as the they get top-heavy when the peppers form. I had a major aphid infestation on my peppers last year, and lost six plants. This year I gently cut off many of the larger leaves to keep the aphids from having a home. I am not sure if this will help but I am going to give it a try.

    Zucchini: I had a hard time growing zucchini last year but I am trying it again. There is a squash bore beetle that gets in the base of this and stops it from producing. It attacks the zucchini and yellow squash both the same. If you aren’t in an area that this beetle lives, you shouldn’t have a problem, so don’t let my misfortune discourage you.

    Yellow Squash: This falls in the same group as the zucchini, see above comments. I am going to try again this year because I love yellow squash in stir fry.

    Onions: I have leeks, egyptian walking onions, and yellow sweet onions. The walking onions are just about to walk so I have decided to build a box on the ground so that they can spread. I don’t want them in my raised beds for three reasons. 1. they don’t get bugs so on the ground is a great place for them. 2. I like to rotate the crops in my raised beds and I don’t want the onions there forever. 3. they will run out of walking room in my boxes. I will put the leeks and yellow onions all in the cedar box I will build this week and call it my onion box.

    Cantaloupe: I grew this last year and tried to place them in small hammocks or netting on the trellis. I found that it was too much work and worry and they did not grow very big. This year I am trying something new, I will have the vines go over my beds to the ground and grow them on the ground. If I get a flower on the vine before the vine reaches the ground, I will pull it off and wait for it to vine to the ground. Stay tuned for this new experiment in growing all types of melons.

    Watermelon: see comments from cantaloupe, the same applies.

    Honey Dew: see comments from cantaloupe, the same applies.

    I am also growing some flowers in one of my boxes
    Marigolds: these are supposed to help keep bugs away!
    Sweet Pea: This is a fall flower but I am hoping I get some sweet-smelling blooms – in other words I am ignoring the dates on the package and giving it a try.

    I tried strawberries for over a year and a half and finally just pulled them – I could not get them to grow well. My old strawberry box is my new flower box!

    I also have two small orange trees and a pomegranate tree (well it is more of a small shrub but I am wishing it to be a tree someday!)

    If you know anything that can help me grow any of these better, please let me know!
    I would love any tips and helps you have. Tell me what you grow in your garden to give me more ideas! good luck!


    April 25th, 2013 | 12 Comments |

12 Responses and Counting...

  • William Moss 04.25.2013

    Good read. Great info.

  • We’ve had pretty good success with growing strawberries in buckets. I’ve learned that with ours, the older they get the larger the berries become that grow on them. So I always try to have a few at different ages to keep the process going strong. We originally just started out with a few strawberry plants but each year we get a bunch of runners which we cut off, plant in it’s cup and then they become their own plants. I think right now we’re up to 30 plants but of course I want more (dont I always).

    I wish we were growing blackberries or raspberries or blueberries.. maybe next year!

    Also I wish we could grow fruit trees – its my real wish – but the weather + growing on the roof doesn’t work too well for that. I will just dream!

    We have a pretty similar list of vegetables we grow, but this year I have some new ones I’m trying including cabbage, Brussels Sprouts and radishes. Good luck!

  • Pamela,
    I might try strawberries like yours! Wow – how fun to have so many! I had luck with cabbage this past winter but have never tried brussel sprouts. Let me know how they turn out!

  • We’ve grown pomegranate before but it always stayed a bush- a very big bush after a few years, but a bush. I’ll be interested to hear if yours becomes a tree!

  • Carla,
    Here’s hoping! When we bought our house there was a pomegranate tree in the backyard, so I know it can be done!
    I will keep you posted!

  • […] This post lists most everything I grow and check out why my type of gardening might just work for you. It’s never too late to start a garden, come on and join the fun! […]

  • […] you are new to my blog, here are the benefits to gardening my way and here is a list of what I grow with ideas and tips. Good luck gardening! […]

  • […] My cucumbers were white and misshapen, and bitter. Thanks to a friend that asked about hers, I found the same problem with mine. I researched online and learned that extreme heat and dry conditions can cause cucumbers to get bitter. I decided to pull my plants and start with some new seeds. My tomatoes were growing but no longer producing tomatoes. I remembered I had planted determinate tomatoes and they were finished. To read more about tomatoes, see here. […]

  • So excited to find this info! Thank you. My husband is building my raised bed right now. This is going to be my first real gardening experience. We are just South of Houston, so your tips and advice are perfect.

  • So excited for you too! I am getting my spring garden in today!
    thanks for the sweet words!

  • I live in austin,Texas.I have been giventhe use of a 4’x6′ garden space. It has good black Texas dirt that has in the past had potting soil added to it.I have just recently added ground up tree leaves to it and turned it into the black soil. I have a tall fence that is at one of the 4′ ends. I want to plant corn and either pumpkins or cantaloupes together on one side of the fence and celebrity tomatoes with kentucky wonder green beans on the other side of the fence.Is this a good idea? And should i add sand to the soil before planting any of these plants?

  • Kathleen,
    Hi! I dont reccomend adding sand to soil – it seems to hurt it from draining, but honestly I am not sure. The best thing is to ask a local garden shop for advice on this or possible your county farm agent. I know they are familiar with soil types per area. Good luck to you!

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