This is our third year gardening, and each year we’ve learned more and gotten better results. Through trial and error, we’ve figured out which plants work best in our space, where we get the most sun, which plants do better in containers, and which ones we use the most. Most of all, we’ve figured out which plants we love to grow the most.
We are by no means expert gardeners, but we are definitely more confident now than when we started three years ago. I hardly knew anything about plants several years ago. Honestly, I didn’t know how much I’d love gardening, but growing and nurturing plants has brought me so much joy. But I digress, that’s a different blog post!
If you’re just getting into gardening for the first time, don’t try to grow ten different plants your first year. Start with two to four, depending on your space, and go from there. Our first year, we had one long, skinny raised bed, and we fit five plants in it. That was probably too many. The year after that, we built another, bigger raised bed and doubled our plants. Then we were given six heirloom tomato plants, so we built a third bed. This year, we optimized the space a little better, and our plants have done well so far!
The more time you spend in your garden, you’ll figure out what plants are “worth it” to grow, and what plants you’re still okay with buying at the store or the farmer’s market.
After three years of gardening, these are the plants we love to grow in our garden!
Tomatoes: Of course we love to grow tomatoes! I wouldn’t call these the easiest vegetables to grow; they can be finicky and have their issues. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much we love growing these. Our second year, we grew Better Boys, Purple Cherokees (the ones we were gifted), Sun Sugars, regular cherry tomatoes, and I attempted San Marzanos. Better Boys, Cherokees, and Sun Sugars are our favorites, and we will definitely be growing those as much as we can. Our Sun Sugars are doing super well this year!
Cucumbers: Cukes were a new addition to our garden this year, and they’ve done really well! They haven’t held up too well in the summer heat, but when it’s not sweltering, they produce quite a good bit. Cucumbers do require a good bit of watering, but they’re otherwise pretty low maintenance.
Mint: I will tell every beginner gardener to start with mint because it’s so easy to grow and so hard to kill. I’ve only ever had mint die if it rained too much and drowned. Otherwise, it grows like a weed, goes dormant in the winter, and comes back the following spring. There are also many varieties of mint to choose from; I prefer spearmint.
Lemon balm: If you like having mint around, you should also try lemon balm! It’s in the same family as mint and grows about as easily. It has a more herbal, citrusy scent, and is another awesome bug repellent. Plus, dried lemon balm makes great tea.
Basil: If you’re growing tomatoes, plant basil with them! They’re great companion plants and keep bugs away. Basil grows well with a lot of vegetables, so it’s a great choice for most gardens. Our basil plants went nuts this year, so I’ve made a lot of homemade pesto.
Peppers: Boy, do we love our peppers! We’ve experimented with several varieties, and we’ve decided our favorites are Thai chilies, poblanos, jalapenos, and banana peppers. My husband loves the hotter peppers, and I stick with my poblanos and banana peppers. The chilies and jalapenos are great for dehydrating and grinding into our own spices. We love these super simple poblano and cheese tacos.
Lettuce: This is a super easy filler plant that does well in part shade. This year, we planted some lettuce in between our tomatoes and peppers, and it’s done really well. The more you pick the leaves, the more it’ll grow and produce. Lettuce and greens also do better when the summer temperatures start to cool off.
There are still a lot more plants and vegetables we haven’t tried growing yet that we want to try: leafy greens like arugula and kale, potatoes, onions, garlic, and carrots. And I haven’t even talked about flowers yet! But no matter where we are and whatever we’re growing, those seven plants will always be there.
If you’re just getting into gardening yourself, check out my tips for beginner gardeners. I hope they help you in your gardening journey!
What plants do you love to grow in your gardens?