I'm still working on planning out my garden and have yet to start seeds for my raised bed. I know, I'm slacking. It's hard for me to start planning my summer garden when my winter garden in still producing and we've been having cold weather so I don't see any reason to pull out the plants yet. I've been thinking about the plants that I'll be putting in my garden, I have some new plants to me, like eggplant. I've never grown it, but would like to add it to my garden. Then I have my plants that I need to make sure I save room for in my garden because when I harvest I can't get enough. So these are the five plants that I need in my garden every year.
Over 80% of backyard gardeners grow tomatoes in the gardens I feel like this is a given. . Tomatoes were the only thing I harvested from my first year gardening. They're fun to grow with a bountiful harvest. They're so incredibly versatile too. Hamburgers, sauces, salads, sandwiches, snacks, salsa etc. They have always been in my garden while the number of plants and the varieties is ever growing. I have grown Beefsteak, Early Girl, Delicious, and Roma in the past. This year I'm growing Monserrat and Cherry Tomatoes in my garden and in my mothers garden we'll have 30-40 San Marzanos for canning tomato sauce.
My first season of growing wasn't successful; with the 11 crops I planted and only 2 tomatoes harvested. My husband had purchased me a small green house and in it I planted peas, carrots and radishes. I kept the green house door open because I knew they were colder weather crops. But I basically neglected these plants and still had 2 pea plants out of 4 do well. I harvested a few pods and got maybe 4-5 carrots. I harvested a good amount of radishes but they sat on the counter and went bad because I didn't know what to do with them. Ever since then I have grown peas as a winter crop. For a long time I had Small Marvels. Three years ago I picked up Sugar Mammoth's and I love how large and sweet the plants get. Last year I picked up Alaskan peas and grew them for the first time this last season. They blew me away, they germinated faster, flowered and therefore fruited much faster that the other two varieties. They handle cold weather much better and will now be a new favorite.
I mentioned how I started growing carrots above and why I came to making them a staple, but one of the other reasons I love carrots is that we can plant them year round pretty much in California (Zone 9) In the winter they grow MUCH slower, but can be harvested late winter or early spring with fall planting. Which is great, because I can always use carrots. I can't remember the first variety that I grew. But I know that I've grown Touchon in the past. Great basic carrots. This year I went a little crazy on the varieties. I have Little Fingers, Nantes, Giant Markets and Amethyst. I can't speak on any of these carrots and how they are doing yet because I've only harvest 3 of the Little Fingers. They are taking a long, long time. September-October. What I've noticed so far is that the Little Fingers are small only 3" so I'm not sure I'll continue growing them. I was excited about the Giant Markets, but the germination was terrible!
My second year gardening I forgot to start seeds in spring so I went to home depot and picked up some plants around April or May. There wasn't much in my garden that year, but my zucchini plant in a 5 gallon container with occasional neglect still kicked out 3 squashes a week. I was constantly looking up recipes. I would go and pluck it off the vine and bring it in and prepare it for dinner. When I was living up in the mountains I planted 4 zucchini plants (on accident I thought 2 were yellow squash, I blame poor labeling). We had SO zucchini even feeding a family of 8 we ended up quartering the zucchini and freezing it for later use as zucchini fries. Last year was a huge bummer, only getting a single squash. This year I plan to at least have two plants again. Not sure my husband and I can do more than that though. I've only every grown the Fordhook zucchini.
This is the most recently discovered favorite. I grew spinach for the first time 3 years ago. I planted 5 plants in a one gallon pot. I harvested leaves for salads about once a week. I loved it. As it was I loved spinach salads, but mega fresh cut from the garden spinach. I'm not going to lie I don't notice a difference in taste, it just makes me so much happier. Later that year I had also planted some in the fall. I still harvested some of the plants by leaves only, but left some plants to develop and harvested whole plants. I enjoy harvesting spinach and only prefer harvesting leaves because I can plant many plants and have continual spinach supply. This year, my husband and I have been adding spinach to our omelets. Now all we got to do is grow our own mushrooms and I would be a happy girl (I'm happy now, would just be happier) The only variety that I've grown to date is Bloomsdale. I have picked up a new variety, Noble Giant that I will be planting next month.
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