Amateur Planter

Home garden, with a tomato plant.

As much as I love shopping at Costco, I often have to discard food that has gone bad because I can’t consume it fast enough. Over the summer, my husband and I bought some grape tomatoes from Costco. I’m pretty sure it was a 2 pound clamshell of grape tomatoes, and it’s not easy going through that much food with just two people.  Unfortunately, we did not finish them, and the tomatoes started to get old and wrinkly.

Instead of tossing them in the trash, my husband “planted” them in our backyard. Soon enough, they started growing! I don’t remember the timing but I think we planted the tomatoes towards the beginning of August, which is considered late for tomato season. Tomatoes grow best in the summer when it’s nice and warm outside. Since we were catching the end of summer, we were afraid the tomatoes wouldn’t ripen. However, we saw the plant begin to flower, the bees came to pollinate, and the plant produced many vines of green tomatoes. Over the next couple months, some turned red, and I eagerly harvested them. Sadly, most of the vines are filled with green tomatoes.

I’m an amateur at best, but I love the idea of planting and growing herbs, fruit, and vegetables in our backyard. Without some planning though, we could miss the prime, natural harvest season for the plants I want to grow. So, I’ve decided to put together some ideas of vegetables and herbs that I’d like to try planting. Hopefully I can find some recipes that use these as key ingredients.

 Keep in mind that plants thrive based on various factors such as the climate, amount of sunlight and water, etc. We are in Zone 10a (according to the USDA Hardiness Plant Zone Map: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/) and our planter boxes receive partial sunlight.

In the cooler months:

  1. Cilantro
  2. Carrots
  3. Green onion
  4. Kale
  5. Spinach

In the warmer months

  1. Basil
  2. Cucumbers
  3. Green onion
  4. Peppers
  5. Tomatoes

I like the idea of growing cilantro in the backyard because I can never finish the full amount that I purchase from the grocery store. The last time we grew cilantro, we noticed the plant produced these little seeds, which is coriander. We didn’t harvest the seeds and eventually pulled the plant out because it looked like it was dying. Surprisingly, those seeds settled in the soil, and I want to say, a few months later, cilantro has sprouted everywhere! I’m so glad the seeds were contained within a planter box because it’s spreading rather quickly and can easily become unmanageable.  I also like growing green onion because I can add it to any dish as garnish. It’s nice to have fresh green onion when I need it. When I buy it from the store, I use the top part and throw the ends back into the planter box, and it just grows.  I noticed that the green onion becomes a big onion. I haven’t pulled this out of the soil yet but am curious if I can use this to cook. It’s been awhile and I’m not sure if I’ve waited too long.

If we become more serious planters, this article provides good insight on seeding indoors and then transplanting them outside when it gets warmer: http://veggieharvest.com/calendars/zone-10.html

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