This will be my third year planting a vegetable garden at my home. Each year I try out a new plant, some do really well, and some fail miserably. The first year I planted ten different herbs and they all died within the first two weeks (oops). Through lots of trial and error, I have found what I think are some the best (and easiest) plants to grow during the summer in STL.
My garden this year consists of the following: blackberries, tomatoes, rosemary, basil, cucumbers, jalapenos, chilis, onions, and zinnias. All of these plants are hearty and do well in full sun. Here is my breakdown of tips and where to purchase each of these plants.
Let’s start from the ground up…the soil and plant boxes.
Soil & Plant Boxes – I bought both the soil and plant boxes at Home Depot. I have found that mixing a high quality of organic planting soil and your basic potting mix; it’s the perfect combination. Not only does it not break the bank, but it’s the perfect environment for your plants to flourish. I have a total of three large planter boxes. They are sturdy and have lasted now three years of being outside exposed to the elements.
Blackberries – I have planted my blackberries this season in a large red pot. Planting them in the pot was the perfect solution since berries like to grow vertically. I purchased both the beautiful red pot and baby blackberry plant from Greenscape Gardens. This is my favorite place to buy plants, they are healthy all season long.
Tomatoes – This year, I was not ahead of the game enough to plant the tomatoes from seeds. Which is an awesome option if you start early enough in the spring. I actually bought my baby tomato plants from Costco! Costco has a wonderful plant selection if you catch them at the right time. My biggest tip for growing tomatoes is to pick them a little before they are fully ripe. Then I take them inside and place them on the window sill to fully develop. This helps save them before bugs find them!
Rosemary – This year, I planted two rosemary plants, also from Costco! I have found that rosemary is an extremely hearty herb. At the end of the season, I love to dry out the branches of the plant. I save the dried herbs to make fresh rosemary bread and croutons. YUM! Personally, I absolutely adore the smell of rosemary, there is nothing better than a house that smells like fresh rosemary bread.
Basil – Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow. It is also something that I use frequently in cooking. So I love to have the plant on hand. While I have tried growing basil inside, I have found that it does best outside. I have also tried growing it in a pot, but I found that it does best planted in the ground. Like rosemary, make sure to save and dry your leaves at the end of the season, for fresh herbs all year long! You can find basil everywhere, because of its popularity it’s even sold at grocery stores. Although, I have bought my healthiest plants from Greenscape Gardens.
Cucumbers – This is my first summer growing cucumbers and the plant absolutely produces more than we can consume. I have been handing out cucumbers to as many family members as I can. Cucumber plants grow vertically and horizontally. It’s important to make sure they have room to spread out and places to climb. Both of my plants have your typical tomato cages around them to help point them in the right direction. They are also planted along an iron gate which the plant has also attached itself to. My biggest tip for growing cucumbers is to make sure you are picking them often. If left on the vine too long, they will turn yellow. I purchased both of my cucumber plants at Greenscape Gardens.
Jalapenos & Chilis – Jalapenos and Mexican Chilis are easy to grow and grow similarly to a tomato plant. Although, they don’t produce fruit as frequently as my tomato plants do. I love having these two peppers in my garden because they are fantastic for making fresh salsa. If you aren’t up to making fresh salsa yourself, simply place the store bought salsa in a blender and add your own fresh peppers. This is a simple tip to add a pop of flavor to any type of salsa. My favorite salsa to do this with is the mango salsa from Costco, it takes the product from a B to an A+ in taste.
Onions – This is also my first summer planting onions. I purchased the plants from Greenscape Gardens and unfortunately, a rabbit got to one of them. Onions grow in the ground and are fairly simple. If you can keep your backyard birds from getting to your plant, they are a great addition to any garden. They also take up little space compared to the rest of the plants I have mentioned.
Zinnia’s – Zinnia’s are beautiful tall flowers that grow quickly with little to no maintenance. My Aunt Barb owns Bloomin’ Buckets, (the best florist in town) and two summers ago she recommended that I plant these beauties. I grow Zinnia’s from seeds and I actually get them from Amazon. Zinnia’s are the perfect cutting flower, I have vases scattered around the house full of zinnia’s all summer long.
I hope this breakdown helps you next time you consider growing your own food. I promise the plants above are pretty much fool-proof. I am a low-maintenance kind of girl, so you can always count on me for simple recipes, simple lifestyle tips and of course the best local restaurant recommendations in town.
Next summer, I want to tackle growing my own lettuce. Have you done this? Leave your tips in the comments.