Like you, I have a list of plants that already have dibs in the garden this coming season. They’re the plants that either out-performed the others, producing amazing blooms or impressive yields, or simply possessed unbeatable flavor, or both. But it’s usually the latter, the unique flavors I’m after — foods and flowers that are tough to duplicate or find at the market.
Then there is the list of plants I can’t wait to try growing. Last year it was cucamelons and the new Early Girl tomatoes called New Girl. I always leave a little room to experiment, try a new variety and expand my quiver of most loved plants.
20 Tried and True Plants:
- Sun Gold Tomatoes: If only this particular tomato was an heirloom or an open pollenated variety so the seeds could be saved, it would be even more perfect. We gathered 100’s of tomatoes from a single plant up until the first frost — each one sweet and packed with flavor. How to plant and grow a bumper crop of tomatoes.
- Pole Beans: This coming year scarlet runner beans are moving out to make more room for more pole beans. Most likely blue lake pole beans and wax beans. They’re fabulous eaten straight off the vine, cooked or pickled.
- Lemon Cucumbers: I always make an attempt to grow lemon cucs — they were a favorite of my grandfathers. This past season they ended up under the cucamelon, which rambled farther than expected, and still grew well. They’re tangy and refreshing.
- Cucamelons: Give them a wide berth with plenty of room to climb along with an open, sunny spot. They’re enchanting to grow and just as wonderful to eat. How to grow cucamelons.
- Freckles and Roxy lettuce: Interplanted them among other veggies to provide cover on hot days and have fresh, homegrown salad through the seasons. Tips for growing greens from seed.
- Arugula: I generally grow arugula through winter and the shoulder seasons, eat the blooms in early summer when it bolts and replant again in September. Try Eruca sativa and Diplotaxis tenuifolia.
- Snap Peas: Planted along with the arugula with a break in summer, it always reminds me how much I love picking and eating from the garden. Plus the shoots are an exquisite addition to salads.
- Radishes: Grow radishes all year long. Interplant them or give them their own plot or planter. Try a a few varieties or simply grow the ones you love.
- Potatoes: Try growing them in a potato tower or grocery bag to save space and grow your favorite varieties. How to grow potatoes in a bag.
- Berries: They thrive in containers and are generally forgiving. Try blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Confine raspberries in a raised bed, planter or with another barrier to keep them from taking over your garden.
- Basil: Thai, blue and Italian basil are a fabulous combination. Keep the Italian basil pruned for a continuous, summer-long crop and let the Thai and blue basil go to flower. You’ll still have plenty to harvest and you’ll create a pollinator heaven in the same instance.
- Rosemary, thyme and parsley: It’s always wonderful to have fresh herbs on hand.
- Kale: Grow it in the shoulder seasons when it’s not too hot. We eat kale like lettuce. Growing my own means I’m not running to market all the time. My favorites are Dino Kale and Red Russian.
- Chard: This must be one of the most forgiving plants. It tolerates heat, drought and generally tough conditions. Plus it they look beautiful in the garden and can be added to almost any dish. You can’t go wrong. Kitchen gardening with less water.
Planting space will determine what new varieties I try in 2016. If only I can get to making a set of new planters I’ll be in business.
10 tips for starting a garden.
*Note: I’m currently gardening in Zone 10b near the Pacific Coast. We typically have cooler weather in summer along with fog. Varieties and plant selections reflect the hardiness zone.