Tag Archives: Shade Gardening

Top 10 Vegetables for Home Gardeners

Tomatoes top the National Gardening Association‘s list of the Top 10 most popular vegetables grown by home gardeners. A whopping 86% of gardeners said they planned to grow tomatoes, when surveyed.

Here are the Top Ten and the percentages of people who said they planned to grow them:

1. Tomatoes (86%)
2. Cucumbers (47%)
3. Sweet peppers (46%)
4. Beans (39%)
5. Carrots (34%)
6. Summer squash (32%)
7. Onions (32%)
8. Hot peppers (31%)
9. Lettuce (28%)
10. Peas (24%)

On the bottom of the list? The lowly Rutabaga only had 1% of gardeners’ support.

Looking for other Gardening lists? See these for ideas about:

Top 10 Heirloom Vegetables to Try

Top 10 Vegetables for the Urban Garden

10 Shade-Loving Vegetables

Once you’ve been inspired to plant, you may want to check out my earlier post, How to Get Growing if You’re a Total Beginner. Tomato season may be winding down (though hope remains for my Oregon Spring cherry tomatoes and a relatively warm fall), so the Gardening Association suggests planting fragrant fall annuals such as snapdragon, stock (below), and sweet alyssum.

Photos: Jean-noël Lafargue (top), Susan Sachs Lipman

Poster: University of N. Texas Libraries

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The Deck Garden: Hope, and Flowers, Spring Eternal

What could offer more possibility than a garden in early spring? A couple of weeks ago, after some late rain, I got my little container garden going again. Spent bulbs were pulled out, fresh soil and organic amendments were put in. And seeds and seedlings were planted.

garden-seedpacks

I loved going to the nursery and wandering among the colorful bedding plants. I also loved picking out seeds to plant. Seed packets are always wonderful. They’re beautifully illustrated and full of promise and lore. I adore old-fashioned flowers, and managed to get some new ones this year to supplement my usual sweet peas, delphinium, cosmos, nasturtium, and stock. In particular, clary sage and scabiosa called to me.

garden-lettuce

Because I’m in a climate zone that gets cool summer fog wafting from the ocean, over the nearby mountain, and above my deck as it heads east, I’ve learned to plant shade-loving varieties. Peas love it here, and I always have vines of them climbing up trellises and lots of healthy peas ready for picking. (Verticality helps me get a lot of crops from my container garden.) I also plant lettuce and usually have a fog-tolerant tomato plant going.

Garden-Tomato2

A couple summers ago, I actually grew pumpkins, as well as stalks of corn in my largest container. The corn was able to cross-pollinate (which is key), as the container’s square shape allowed just enough rows across and down. Just planting them, in a small space with little sun, was optimism defined. The corn was miniature, as was the prized pumpkin, which trailed up and over its container and onto the deck.

This season, practicality, along with romantic heirloom flowers, won out. I usually plant a container I call the Aspen box, inspired by the beautiful summer flowers that greeted me in Aspen, Colorado, when I visited for my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding, some years ago. Here’s the start of this year’s Aspen box, with cosmos, lobelia and stock:

Garden-Aspenbox

Garden-Variety

I love stock, in particular. It’s praises are undersung, I think. It’s a wonderful cottage-garden flower, growing or cut. It’s delightfully old-fashioned, with hardy, though delicate looking, petals that give off a sweet-spicy scent.

garden-stock

I added spots of brighter reds and yellows in some of the other boxes, like this nice Pecotee petunia, and an accent dahlia.

Garden-Red Petunia

Garden-Dahlia

My Canadice champagne grape plant came back nicely after losing its leaves for the winter. Perennial plants never fail to amaze me.

Garden-GrapeJPG

I was happy to see a bee performing its pollinating duties on a cosmos.

Garden-Bee

Last year, I bought these sweet seeds at a school garden fair. Children had harvested the seeds and designed the packets.

Garden-KidsSeeds

Other seeds await planting in my cupboard.

Garden-PantryStock

Also in the cupboard, this robin’s egg, which we rescued from the ground. Of course, its hue is the quintessential “robin’s egg blue” that painters over time have attempted to replicate.

garden-robinsegg

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman