Calling all gardeners!

I decided this year to plant a vegetable garden.  In the past, we’ve grown veggies and herbs in pots but this year, we decided to take it a little more seriously.  My kiddos have really gotten into the spirit of things and are already enjoying the fruits of our labor.

Today, I’m asking for your tips please!  I mean, so far, it’s been two weeks and everything appears to still be alive…but that could just be dumb luck.

We have one large raised bed that’s in full sun most of the day.  Thanks to my sweet hubby for making me one :).

Here’s what’s in the garden:
Basil
Sage
Cilantro
Oregano
Tomatoes 
Bell Peppers
Squash
Zucchini
Watermelon
Green Onion

I’m just about to go grab some jalapenos too.

I live in Texas, so it’s very hot and dry…any other veggies I should add?  Also, Kensington really wants to plant some more fruit, so what other fruit (besides watermelon) do you think would grow well in the hot/dry climate?

I would love tips on fertilization, plant food, soil, watering and so on.  What else would pair nicely with what I have planted and withstand our hot/dry climate?

This is the book I bought at the end of April when I decided to start planting a garden.  I have found it extremely helpful!  You can find it on Amazon here.  That being said, I know real gardeners have tried and true tips that go outside of what’s found in a book, so I’m hoping you might share a tip or two with me.
If I can keep this garden up all summer, I’m hoping to add to it in the fall and then make it even bigger next year.  We shall see…
  Ashby had her MRI yesterday and that pretty much consumed our day.  We took her in really early in the morning, they put her under and did the MRI.  We go back later this month to discuss their findings.  Our sweet girl did really well yesterday, and we are so glad to have that behind us.  I thought a little garden blogging was the perfect way to spend our day today.  You ladies always have the best tips and advice, so I’m hoping you can really help me (and other newbie gardeners) get the best results from our veggies.
In the kitchen today…
Lemon Parm Pasta.  Enjoy it as a vegetarian entree or a side dish…really good either way!

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  • Brantlee May 13, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Can't wait to follow along in the comments. I have a lot of the same questions. I do some container gardening but want to branch out and plant a big garden someday. Have a great day!

  • Gucci Girl May 13, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Gardening is fun and rewarding! And such good lessons for kids, too. We also have a raised bed and usually plant the veggies there. I keep my herbs in a smaller pot on my deck close to my kitchen door for easy access. I also find that they are a bit more fragile and this way I can check on them more often and see when they're drying out – especially the basil. It wilts so quickly. One exception to the smaller pot rule is Rosemary. Rosemary is so sturdy and will grow just about anywhere! And its bushes get huge! I could cook with rosemary every night – yum! Ok last tip: surround your garden with marigolds. Plant as many and you can manage in between veggies and all along the edge of your bed. Bugs hate the smell so that's one natural way to keep them at bay. Good luck! Can't wait to see harvest:)

  • Erika Slaughter May 13, 2015 at 10:27 am

    This is my tip from years ago. Tab and I attempted a long time ago-keep the rabbits away from the garden!!

  • Narci May 13, 2015 at 10:40 am

    So fun! I can't wait to follow your cute garden! We've had one before, and I seem to remember that the cucumber did really well. Maybe try that? See you soon! 🙂

  • Kylee R May 13, 2015 at 10:58 am

    I'm not much of a gardener, so I don't have any tips for you! It looks great though, and I bet the kiddos will have a lot of fun helping out – or picking the goodies when they're ready!! 🙂 I have a question for you though – J Crew Factory is having a sale, and I was hoping to order some of the chino shorts that you've posted about. If you wouldn't mind me asking – what size do you wear in them? We look about the same size, and I have no clue how they run! Thanks so much:)

    • Mix and Match Mama May 13, 2015 at 11:07 am

      The Factory shorts are made in a lighter fabric that tends to shrink up a bit. I have one pair from Factory that are a two and then my others are from J Crew and they are zeros. Hope this helps!

    • Kylee R May 13, 2015 at 11:11 am

      That does – thank you so much, and for such a quick response:) Have a good day!

  • Tara G. May 13, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Sandy from Reluctant Entertainer had great gardening tips.

  • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Keep your tomatoes evenly moist. A soaker hose works well. Apply a good fertilizer such as garden tone. Start using the cilantro now because it will bolt rapidly. This fall plant a fall garden. Green beans, potatoes and onions do really well in the fall. Plant in August to harvest before frost

  • Katie May 13, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Shay, you should try growing lettuce, kale (great in smoothies for kids) and other salad greens, they are so easy and very low maintenance. Pole beans are also very easy and produce beautiful flowers! Also, planting basil in between your tomato cages will keep bugs away, as will surrounding your garden with marigolds as Gucci Girl mentioned above. Enjoy!

    • Maren Hall Arnold May 13, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      I second basil next to tomatoes. I have heard it called an "Italian garden". Keep the basil watered.

  • Jami May 13, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Cantaloupe is another fruit that does well in heat. Cucumber does really well also. For watering I like to run drip lines right at the base of my plants and we also put a timer on them. I usually use miracle-grow for vegetables about every two weeks. Good luck!

  • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Cucumbers grow really well and string beans taste great straight from the garden!

  • Megan Chrencik May 13, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Strawberries should be okay! They grow well in humid, hot areas. Just make sure to give them a lot of water 🙂 Great news about Ashby!

  • Lisa Nortman May 13, 2015 at 11:41 am

    You've got the garden thing well covered! We also plant dill, cucumbers and okra. My girls love to mix dill in mayo for sandwiches. We also plant marigolds to keep the bugs away…
    My only tip is to NOT refrigerate your tomatoes. They lose their wonderful smell and taste. Just keep them on the counter in a bowl or basket:)

  • Steph May 13, 2015 at 11:46 am

    I would add cucumbers, parsley and mint to your garden 🙂 I'm still using pots and hope we can try a real garden one day!

    • Melanie Lien May 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      Keep your mint in a pot! If you put it in a bed, it will take over the whole thing!

    • ceciliaky May 13, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      plant the mint in a pot or old coffee can …. I learned the hard way that it will take everything over. good for mint juleps, not so good for everything else 😉

    • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      I second this!!! I'm still pulling mint roots out of our garden…

  • Rachel Embery May 13, 2015 at 11:52 am

    I'd also get The All New Square Foot Gardening book. Wonderful tips and "floor plans" for raised bed gardens:-)

  • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 11:54 am

    I also live in Texas and we grow asparagus and it does so well! So yummy and fresh, way better than store bought. Also try carrots and eggplant!

  • Kim May 13, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Strawberries are good. They need it all sunny. Very easy to maintain. Also, you will need marigolds.. They will keep the bugs out.. Peppers will bare till the first frost. Just make sure to keep them pulled. They will keep baring as long as you pull them. Praying good results for that sweet baby girl.. She is so precious.

  • angie May 13, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    My Mom has raised bed garden in the sun, just a little south of Dallas, but her Okra plants have done really well from Spring planting through well into Fall and it is delicious! Like well enough to have okra almost all year when final harvest is done because lots is stored in freezer bags for winter!

  • Laura May 13, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    I'm not a serious gardener but I do live in Dallas so I'm familiar with the climate issues! The sage, oregano, basil, squash, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, and green onions will all do really well. Keeping everything watered is the biggest thing. I've never grown fruit so I can't speak to the watermelon. I have not had luck with cilantro and will not plant it again – it bolts too quickly (stops producing edible leaves because it starts flowering to produce seed) so it has a limited life in the garden. I'll stick with buying it. You can actually grow more green onions by planting the white "hairy" ends of green onions you use in cooking – I have a huge plant in my backyard right now grown entirely from the scraps! As mentioned above, marigolds will help keep the pests away. If you plant jalapeños, they will do REALLY well. You may not need more than one plant – I planted 3 and had literally hundreds upon hundreds of jalapeños (way more than we and all of our friends could possibly ever use!) Homegrown jalapeños also tend to be EXTRA spicy! I also have lavender, parsley, thyme, and mint in my garden – but mint should be kept in a container since it spreads like crazy. I've used the Miracle Gro for fruits/vegetables in the past with success (I'm sure this is not a thing legit gardeners would do but it works!). Good luck!!

  • Dollie May 13, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Shay I'm no gardener, but I have plants in pots. Hoping I will not forget to water them and keep them alive! Thankfully all the rain helps! I have found this gardening app called vegetable tree- gardening guide. I think the app coat $3 but I've really used it a lot. There is also a free one called garden compass. Good luck!!

  • Scarlett's Mama May 13, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Epsom salt works great in veggie gardens and is especially good for peppers and tomatoes… It helps them grow stronger and is an organic fertilizer! I learned this trick from my grandparents… You can read more about how to do this here: http://www.saltworks.us/gardening-with-epsom-salt.asp. Good luck!!!

  • The Boutelle Family May 13, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    I just planted my garden on Saturday (on a total whim & impulse buy of plants at the Farmer's Market. I don't know what happened.) and seriously was going to post a very similar post asking for tips, so I'm going to have to follow these comments closely! Also I love that quote at the top. I'm going to have to save that for motivation when I'm out in my garden at 10pm covering my plants so they don't get too cold (we live near Chicago)!

  • Laura Bake May 13, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Any tips for keeping bugs away? I had them destroy my tomatoes last year here in Oregon.

  • Carissa Howard May 13, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    I don't have any tips for you, but I love cucumbers. They might be a nice addition to your garden. I would love for you to do a post with your findings. I live in the Dallas area and would love to start a garden.

  • Cara@HomespunKitchen May 13, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    We fertilize with cow manure (I know, sounds horrible) about 2 weeks before we till the garden. We get the BEST produce! It also helps that we live next to my inlaws farm:)

  • Jenn K May 13, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    You don't want to keep that watermelon in the bed with all the other stuff. Watermelon vines take over and will spread out far and likely suffocate your other plants. We plant our watermelon and pumpkins at the back end of the property away from the raised beds so they can do their thing. Good Luck with your garden!!

  • Morgan Eckert May 13, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    I live in Houston and my mom started a garden last summer. The thing that did the best in her garden were green beans and we got a ton of them so you should try that! And they were really tasty as well. Good luck!

  • Anne Harvey May 13, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Last year we grew way more than we could handle. Rookie mistake I guess. We grew squash and it literally took over our garden. It didn't ruin our other veggies, but just required a lot of space. Cucumbers did the same thing. Best of luck!

  • Susan May 13, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    my hubby likes to use soaker hoses in his bigger garden and I planted a blueberry bush this years super excited! we live in Texas too and soaker hoses work great for us. I always plant radishs because they come up so fast and the kids love the pick them.

  • Sara Fehrenbacher May 13, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Fertilization tip: When you guys cut your grass, bag it (Not every time, just 2 or 3 times throughout the summer), and save the cut grass and put it around your plants. It will not only help fertilize them, but will also help hold in moisture.

  • Jayme Pratt May 13, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    You should get a bag of diatomaceous earth. It is very helpful in veggie gardens. My great grandmother was a Master gardener and swore by it. It helps prevent the cut worms and horn worms from devoring your tomatoes and other veggies. I would suggest some garlic and other types of onion. You should always plant your plants about half way up the stalk from the base.. this ensures a hardier more sturdy plant to support the fruits of your labor! Good luck!

  • Angela May 13, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    I second the comment about the watermelon vines! They vine like crazy (as in they will overtake the area in which they are planted)! Also, watch your tomato and pepper plants for large/puffy green worms – they will eat the leaves and can wreck a plant in no time!

  • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    First of all, I love your blog! I know that your family's health and well being is really important, so when I saw that you had purchased Bonnie plants I was concerned. It is best to buy your veggies from a reliable nursery and try to buy organic whenever possible. They fertilize and use a ton of chemicals on Bonnie plants and are mostly sold at big box stores. And if possible use seeds if you can, you will get bigger, stronger and healthier plants that have had to adapt to their soil conditions. Best of luck in your gardening adventures!

  • Unknown May 13, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Keep you jalapeño and sweet peppers separate. They cross pollinate and then your sweet peppers are bitter. Those are my hardest to pick at the right time. Make sure you know what color they're supposed to be. They all turn red if you don't get them at the right time. A lot of our gardening has been trial and error. I also like growing zucchini and yellow squash for grilling and bread. I'm pretty sure you can't kill that even if you try!

  • farmwife03 May 13, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    I live on a farm in central Illinois. I don't do a garden, yet, but hope to start one up in the next year or two. We need to take some out buildings down before I can have a good spot to put it. I have started growing some stuff in pots. My dad has a HUGE garden that I steal from 🙂 My advice would be to invest in some nice soaker hoses to wind through out your beds and then keep them on a timer. You'll want to make sure everything stays evenly watered and that is the best way to do it without standing outside 1-2 times a day watering (though watering the garden is a great chore for the kids). Be careful with the watermelon and any other viney vegetable or fruit (green beans, cucumbers, etc.) because they can vine out A LOT and take over everything. As others have said, plant marigolds, at minimum, around the perimeter to keep out bugs and smaller animals. They are a bitter and strong smelling flower that animals and bugs don't care for. I think that's about all I got!! Happy gardening!! 🙂

  • Meghan Bubel May 13, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Hi Shay,

    Gardening is the best! I was having a lot of problems with my raised garden bed and the soil getting too compact. I did go and buy some earth worms. Worms help aerate the soil and keep it from getting so packed down. It is kind of gross, but in a week my garden has done exponentially better! Also, I keep the egg shells every time I use eggs and grind them up, it doesn't really matter how ground up it is, but it'll help give plants calcium and the sharp jagged shell pieces can also help keep pests away. Have fun!

  • MamaF May 13, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    My husband has 4 raised beds. The squash will take up a lot of space,as will zucchini. He has cucumbers and made his own trellis. He uses the square foot garden book as reference. Good luck.

  • MamaF May 13, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    My husband has 4 raised beds. The squash will takes up lots of room, as will zucchini. He has cucumbers and made his own trellis. He uses Square Foot Garden books as reference. Good luck.

  • Sheaffer {Pinterest Told Me To} May 13, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    I don't have any tips for you, but there is nothing I love more than a home grown tomato. So please, commit that little nugget to memory. And feel free to hand me a tomato every so often. 🙂

  • Emily Morrison May 13, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    OKRA! I know nothing about gardening but my dad plants one every year and I just know okra does well in hot and dry but he also waters his garden daily. Okra is my all time favorite and I always make sure it's doing well!

  • Marissa May 13, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Hi Shay. I love reading your blog. I have gotten so many great tips from you so I'm happy to share some of mine with you. As mentioned above marigolds are great for deterring unwanted insects but they are also good for attracting bees. Bees are the number one pollinator and without pollination you have no fruit/vegetable. Bees rarely sting unless they feel threatened (swatting at them:)). Flowers of any kind will increase pollination. I love to plant the jumbo zinnias. They are an excellent cut flower, are easy to grow and attract butterflies (which are fun for kids). As far as fertilizer, Espoma is an organic brand you can buy at Lowe's or Home Depot. They have one specifically designated for vegetables. Since your garden is already planted you just sprinkle the specified amount around the base of the plants and work it in to the top 3-4 inches of the soil. I would also supplement with Osmocote. This is a slow releasing pelletized fertilizer that you also mix into the soil. It will release for a couple of months depending on temperature and water amount. Osmocote can be found at Lowe's as well and they too have a specific one for growing vegetables. It's a perfect time to start a compost bin since you will soon be having peelings from fruit and veggies to throw in with grass clippings and then mulched (mowed over) leaves in the fall. By the time next spring rolls around you will have all of this organic matter to add to your garden that will greatly improve the health of your soil. Everyone as already mentioned more heat loving plants. I love okra and peppers. Just make to pick them when they are small and tender. I find it helpful to stake my peppers and to also thin them out when too many. By thinning them out I mean to simply remove some of the peppers when they are small so you don't weigh the plant down too much and cause it to fall over. This will only need to be done when the plants are well established and producing more fruit than you need, or can give away. 🙂 Best of luck! Thanks again for all of your good ideas! Fun fact: my friend Katy is friends with your friend Erika! We live in MO.

  • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Would love to see a picture of your whole garden!

  • Kendra Henderson May 13, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    just love love love reading your blog. and these gardening tips are worth their weight in gold! xoxo

  • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Okra does really well in the hot weather. We live in Arkansas so I feel you on the hot and dry. It's also not too late to plant it. We planted a couple of weeks ago and it just started coming up about 5 days ago. Your garden looks great. Good Luck!

  • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    – Marigolds are a must!
    – KALE is amazing, super easy to grow, and the plants can last all winter long!
    – be careful with growing mint, it spreads like a weed and you will never be able to get rid of it!
    – water tomatoes only at the root, if you hit the leaves or actual fruit it could lead to spotting
    – it might be a little late for this, but next year starting your garden off with manure adds so many nutrients to your soil, and makes for the yummiest, healthiest veggies!

    🙂

  • Julie Magdic May 13, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    We always had great luck with cucumbers! 🙂 Basil grows like crazy for us!

  • mel @ the larson lingo May 13, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Watermelon will take over your garden!!!! It grows like crazy. When we grow watermelon & pumpkins I plant it on the outside of our garden boxes because the vines will invade & choke everything in your garden box. Watermelon also require a lot of water, so make sure you stay on top of that.
    I suggest watering your garden first thing in the morning before it gets too hot (that is what I do)
    I have a bunch of other tips on this post:
    http://thelarsonlingo.blogspot.com/2015/04/2015-garden-week-1_21.html
    So excited you are doing a garden. We love having one 🙂

  • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Not down south…we haven't put in our garden yet. Last year we did beans, carrots, corn (which was destroyed by a storm…blew the stalks that were almost ready down).
    This year we are really just planting beans…all types. We had beans grow until first frost. I think we may try corn but not in our raised bed.
    We also have a couple of blueberry plants (really small) & raspberries that have decided to grow like CRAZY!!!
    Oh I read that bugs don't like garlic, so I put some garlic in a spray bottle with water & sprayed the JUST leaves (none of the fruit or veggies). Seems to have helped.
    Good Luck
    SS

  • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    I am not an expert by any means. We have several large raised beds. We have gone through a lot of trial and error. We do not live in your climate, but I would say the biggest thing we have learned is to plant LESS. So many of the pants/veggies get so much bigger than you are thinking when you plant. Your pictures are all up-close, so it is hard to tell – but my thoughts were that you might have some things too close together. Like a few others mentioned with the watermelon. Also, for us our tomato plants get huge. I would love to see a picture of your garden that shows the whole thing, to really see the size you have!

  • Heather Stanton May 13, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Plano Gardner here…I would start with the basics, lots of mulch and feeding the garden once a week with Miracle Grow. Mulch will protect the roots in the hot TX sun. Water slow so the water seeps deeper in the ground and the roots will grow deeper. In the blazing sun, I use a soaker hose with a timer so I don't forget. Pesticides too….I use organic ones. Mama needs mulch!!!

  • Heather Stanton May 13, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Oh…when the basil starts to flower, cut the flowers off. The flowers make it more bitter.

  • Nieva May 13, 2015 at 11:29 am

    We can grow strawberries here in Las Vegasso maybe look into that!

  • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    I recommend cantaloupe if your looking for an annual plant bearing fruit. Otherwise strawberries and other berries would be good to start for next year (too late, i.e. warm for them to flower and fruit).
    Just as a side note- you need to thin back your watermelon to one plant once they reach the 2 true leaf stage (which from your picture above- they are). You should also do this with any squash, pepper, cucumber or large fruit bearing plant. It keeps them from competing for space, water and nutrition that would keep your plants small and immature.
    Everyone keeps mentioning that your watermelon will take over your bed, once it reaches tipping point (it will grow up and then become heavy, fall over and vine) start training the vine off your bed. Its really simple to do and it keeps it from taking over your garden. It works best if you plant it in a corner (same as with cantaloupe).
    Good Luck!

  • The Andersons May 13, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    This is my first year starting a garden. Since we don't have enough of a lawn, I have a plot in a community garden. A gardener I talked to recommended looking for videos on You Tube but typing "edu" after what you are searching for… you get videos from more reputable sources. They are GREAT at explaining each and every step of the gardening process.

  • Lindsay (LindsayWeighsIn) May 13, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Thank you so much for doing this post! My boyfriend and I are going to attempt a garden this Summer, and I know absolutely nothing. I read through all the comments and will definitely be coming back to keep checking them out! I'm a little worried because I seem to kill all the plants I try to keep (I killed a bamboo plant before… those things are supposed to be indestructible! Gosh..) so I'm hoping we have better luck because it would be so nice to have fresh veggies and herbs to cook with. I'm so glad to hear that Ashby's MRI went well, by the way! I've never had one, but I know they can be a bit scary. You're such a good mama!

  • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    I would definitely suggest cucumbers and beets! Beets are easy to can as well if you want year round eats! Radishes are a great summer food, but not always well liked.

  • jularie May 13, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Neil Sperry's "The Complete Guide To Texas Gardening" will never fail you! I have a 25 year old copy and my parents used to listen to the radio show he had on KRLD in Dallas for many, many years. I believe he has a website & Facebook page now as well. That's my best gardening advice.

    • Maren Hall Arnold May 13, 2015 at 3:58 pm

      McKinney also has a garden show each spring. Neil usually speaks at the event. I think it was already held this year….maybe in April?

  • 30 Something.... May 13, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    to keep the basil growing all summer, prune!

    http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/basil/pruning-back-basil-plants.htm

    I did this last summer and the plant kept growing bigger and bigger!

  • Paula May 13, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    I would recommend investing in a rain barrel to collect any rain water you do get-rain is excellent for plants-better than what will come out of the hose..

  • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Add some regular onions, so you can have a "salsa garden"! Tomatoes, peppers, jalapenos, cilantro and onions = great homemade salsa! Pumpkins are also great for kids to watch grow big!

  • Baylee May 13, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Cantaloupe for Kensington! and we added Okra into our garden this year and fresh green beans are the best!!

  • Anonymous May 13, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    Don't use PLASTIC chicken wire to keep pests out if they are eating your garden….get WIRE chicken wire. Last year bunnies started eating our kale. We got the plastic stuff at Home Depot and they chewed through it! Had to tear down and re-do with the real stuff.
    We had to lean over to harvest our veggies & that was not ideal- but, anyone know how to create a good solution to that problem?!

  • Courtney Cammarano May 13, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    My grandparents always had a huge garden in the Hill Country. In addition to what you've already got going I remember them growing strawberries, cantaloupe, cucumbers, grapes, green beans, squash, black eye peas and banana peppers. They also did great with pear and plum trees.

    There is nothing better on earth than eating a ripe home-grown tomato right out of the garden with nothing but salt & pepper on it.

  • Verlan May 13, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Can't believe the garden is two weeks old and you have tomatoes and peppers that big! Must have some good fertilizer! Have fun!

  • Jaren May 13, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    So many great tips here! We still do a few pot plants of tomatoes and herbs. Maybe one day I'll try a real garden!

  • Liz | Ellie and Addie May 13, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    We started with one raised bed and now have three! I would HIGHLY recommend using tomato-tone and garden-tone as fertilizer, we always get great crop yields using it! It's probably too late to plant peas this year, but they are lots of fun so do them next year! Radishes and carrots are super easy to do from seed and really yummy. And lettuce and spinach are fun and easy too! Also we usually pull the male flowers from our zucchini plants and physically pollinate the females to make them grow more/better/faster. Super easy to do! Have lots of fun!

  • Lauren Palmer May 13, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    Mint–but keep in it's own container or it will take over the bed. Thyme is an excellent herb for cooking as well. A cantaloupe vine appeared in our front flower bed last summer–a bird must have dropped a seed or something–it was delicious and didn't mind the heat.

  • Lauren Doherty May 14, 2015 at 1:57 am

    I didn't read every comment, but I know you can grow figs here. Even a very small fig tree will produce a number of figs so if you like them, it's a great fruit tree to try! I am growing sage, thyme, parsley, basil, and cucumbers. Everything but the cucumbers came back from last year, no need to replant and the sage is gigantic! Good luck!

  • Port Family May 14, 2015 at 2:28 am

    We plant our vined plants in a different bed as we learned the hard way that they take over. My husbands 95 year old grandma told us when a tomato plants Ys, pinch off the little sprout in the middle…it helps the plant to be less leafy and produce more. We use several bags of good top soil and milorginite (spelling could be off) for fertilizer. Make sure to water often especially the watermelon, that's how they get big!!! Best of luck and I concur with the person that said start small and add to it. We have a "salsa garden" tomatoes, peppers, onions and herbs in a separate pot. We added broccoli this year too. We had awful luck with fruit in the past but we are trying watermelon again.

  • Flmgodog May 13, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Lots of great suggestions. Thanks for doing this, Shay! We grow lots of things in our garden. If you are a cucumber fan you might try the cucumber bush rather than the cucumber plant. They stay fairly well contained and don't take over the world. We grow watermelon in huge pots for the kids and have had LOTS of luck as well. Lots of strawberries are grown (for the kids but I love them too). I grow raspberries and blackberries because I love them but they can be a mess with birds and other animals. My neighbors hate them. The berries will come back each year bigger and stronger. I have a huge garden but I grow all my herbs in gigantic pots right on my patio so I can just go out and grab what I need while i am cooking. In the fall I clean the herbs up and freeze everything that is left. My friends bring there huge herb pots inside.
    I have a total black thumb so I am so thankful to have a husband and FIL (more my FIL) that LOVE to garden. I can keep the herbs alive, that's about it. Purple eggplant and Japanese eggplant are fun to grow. I grow lots of eggplant each year, as well as tons of different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini.

  • Charlotte K May 14, 2015 at 3:46 am

    We love our family garden! It gets pretty dry here too, but some of our favorites are green beans, snap peas, eggplants, cucumbers, green and red leaf lettuce & kale. The fresh green beans are amazing and grow super fast. Each year we end up giving them to the neighbors cause there are just so many! And of course, nothing beats a homegrown tomato! The one thing with growing lettuce is that, at least for us, it's the main attraction for the bunnies. Though it is very cute to see a bunny in the garden! And for Kensington, try strawberries & raspberries 🙂 We've had good luck with both, and critters haven't seemed too interested in them. Good luck & have fun with the kiddies!

  • Charlotte K May 14, 2015 at 3:52 am

    Oh, and piggybacking on my comment… How about a lemon tree? Since you're in Texas, you could keep it year round. If you don't really have a good place to put one, I know people who keep Meyer lemon trees in large pots since they are smaller. Some even bring them inside for the winter if it gets too cold! That's my dream, to walk downstairs and pick a lemon 🙂 That might be a fun one for the kids as well!

  • Jola Mochoge May 14, 2015 at 6:13 am

    Not sure about Texas, but we live in a hot climate and grow strawberries asking have mulberries. My grandfather used to grow blueberries. The last two are really bushy so they need space.

  • Kerry May 14, 2015 at 3:10 am

    I swear by fish emulsion as my fertilizer. You mix a small bit with water and I feed my plants once a week with it. It's a great way to ensure your plants are organic and you aren't using harsh fertilizers.

  • Libba May 14, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Watch out for that oregano…it is invasive and will take over your bed. I have to pull it up by the handful to keep it from taking over the entire bed.

  • Colleen May 14, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    I live in Fort Worth and we are growing tomatoes, lots of peppers, zucchini, eggplant, beets, carrots, lemons, rainbow chard, lettuce, spinach, napa cabbage, green onions, strawberries, butternut squash, basil, rosemary, dill, parsley, lavender, oregano, and cilantro. I have lots of tips.
    * Get a soaker hose for the raised bed. You can even set it up on a timer to make it super simple.
    * Throw your eggshells and coffee grounds into the garden. The plants love it.
    * Make sure that you space your plants out a lot. Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, watermelon, etc can all get really big.
    * Keep mint in its own pot or it will take over your whole yard.
    * For fruit, try citrus trees, fig trees, strawberries or berry bushes (you will need at least 2 berry bushes for pollination)
    * For fertilizer, I really like fish and seaweed plant food.
    * Remember that earthworms, bees, ladybugs are the good kind of bugs that every gardener really wants.
    * Start a compost bin. Compost in your garden is a game changer when it comes to your harvest.
    * Lots of mulch will help keep the garden from drying out during our Texas summers.

    Hope that helps! Keep us posted on how it all goes.

    • Jennifer Pylant May 15, 2015 at 12:45 am

      Hi Colleen, I'm from Ft Worth also! In the past we have had terrible luck with birds getting our tomatoes at first sign of ripening. First sign of yellow or orange tint- forget about juicy and red! Has this happened to you – do you have any recommendations? We had great luck with Cherry tomatoes and lots of fun to grow with my 3 yr!

    • Colleen May 18, 2015 at 9:10 pm

      Hi Jennifer. Yes, that happens to me so often. Between the squirrels and the birds, I can get so mad. The only thing that has given us good success is to create a mesh like trellis over the garden. Ours is made out of wood and then we lay the mesh over it and stake it down at the sides, but we have also used PVC pipe as well. Not always the most visually appealing, but it did keep them out. Hope that helps!

  • Melanie Lien May 14, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    I keep coming back to read the comments. We are still using pots to grow our veggies. My parents have a real garden. We just trade back and forth, and we help them work their garden. We bought a peach tree this year and put it in a large pot. Its about 6 feet tall right now. A friend of ours did it and said it worked perfect for them. We are considering getting a lemon tree! After reading the comments, I may have to give cantaloupe a shot. We live in Mississippi which is a similar climate we are growing: tomatoes, mint, bell pepper, squash, zucchini, eggplant, green beans, black eyes peas, and corn. I saw one comment about the things may be too close. I would have to second that comment. You will learn through trial and error, but some plants really demand more space! Good luck growing! Thanks for making this post!

  • Anonymous May 15, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    My husband says that you can use Seven Dust in the garden. For bugs on leafy vegetables and brocoli. Is this safe? So many of you seems like great gardeners so I figured I could ask here 🙂

  • Susie May 17, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    A great way to keep bugs away is tonadd water to some Dawn and sprinkle it on the leaves of plants.