House gardening for learners: What to plant in Houston

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Heather Stickell, chief designer, Hearst

There is nothing more exciting than planting a garden from scratch. Hardly anything compares to the thrill of watching seeds and soil become a bed of fresh vegetables or fragrant flowers in full bloom! The possibilities are endless, but so are the questions to get started.

We asked three green gardening gurus from the Houston area for tips on how to avoid novice gardeners’ mistakes, beat the Texas heat, and find the best seeds and plants in town. We think you’ll “dig” what they had to say.

Your edible garden awaits

Submitted by: Karena Poke

Because poke@LettuceLiveUrbanFarmKaren Poke is the founder of Lettuce Live, an urban farming project dedicated to educating and inspiring Houstonians to lead healthy lives. Karen is a Master Gardener on the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program.

Not many people can say they are a master gardener, but Karena Poke isn’t most people. As the founder of Lettuce Live, she leads a team of designers who work with aspiring planters to create edible gardens that promote access to fresh fruits and vegetables in communities across the city.

To help you get started planting your own edible garden, Karen has a few simple tips that any novice gardener can follow.

Karena’s expert tips for new gardeners

1. Take soil seriously

Good quality soil or compost is the most important investment. Keep your soil covered with leaves or untreated mulch. This helps the soil retain moisture while keeping weeds and grass out.

2. Plant in sight

Place your garden in a visible and accessible area. When your garden is out of sight, it’s out of mind. Plant your vegetable garden in a sunny spot to ensure your vegetables get the recommended 6 hours of sunlight a day.

3. Take out your calendar

Grow the right foods for the right time of year. Plant your vegetables based on your local plant master plan for extensions.

To begin with, Karena suggests purchasing your plants from the local expansion office to find vegetation pre-selected based on their ability to thrive in Houston’s climate. To further improve the health of your plants, she suggests buying organic soil or compost.

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Local Resource: The Best Garden Centers in Houston

Raise plants in raised beds

Submitted by: Krista Baldwin

Krista Baldwin@baldwinbloomsKrista Baldwin is a gardener, engineer and mother of two young girls. She enjoys gardening in raised beds and planting crops all year round.

If you think creating a vegetable garden takes an expert, meet Krista – an everyday Houstonian whose back yard is full of four Raised beds Overflowing with ripe produce. When asked why she loves gardening, Krista explains: “I think it’s great that there is always something to learn in the garden [feeling of] Performance in growing flowers and vegetables from seeds. ”

Krista’s gardening tips are based on years of research, time, patience and a lot of experience.

Krista’s everyday tips for new gardeners

1. Attract bees

Along with your vegetables, plant flowers that will attract pollinators and add color to your garden.

2. Do your research before planting

In Houston, many spring vegetables need to be planted in late February or early March to ripen before temperatures rise. Now is the time to plant eggplant, sweet corn, summer squash, and winter squash to harvest in the fall.

3. Know your enemy

Pests always find their way into your garden. Plan ahead by examining common pests such as aphids, leaf pods, cucumber beetles, gourd vine borers, and spider mites.

Krista recommends using Raised bed gardens to better manage the quality of your soil and your growing environment. For recommendations on where to get your plants and supplies, she recommends Buchanan’s native plants in the heights and Enchanted Gardens in Richmond. If you’re starting your garden from scratch, she recommends taking seeds online at. to buy Botanical interests, Baker Creek, or Johnnys.

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Find the Nursery Near You: The Best Garden Centers in Houston

Green and a lot

Submitted by: Chasaty RainerSubmitted by: Chasaty Rainer

Chasaty Rainer@blackgirlgardensofficialChasaty Rainer is an enthusiastic home gardener and an intensive carer by profession. Growing up in rural Texas, her great grandmother taught her everything she knew about gardening. Today she shares her wisdom and love for horticulture on her platform Black Girl Gardens.

For Chasaty Rainer, gardening is not a hobby, but a lifestyle. “Nothing is more heartwarming to my soul than planting a seed, nourishing it, and watching it grow into the same food that fed my ancestors,” she proclaims warmly. Her favorite plants are Mammoth Sunflowers and Okra – both plants that thrive in Houston’s heat and humidity.

If you’re wondering how to balance job demands with the pursuit of a bountiful harvest, Chasaty knows best.

Chasaty’s no-fail tips for new gardeners

1. Start small

When planting vegetables, plant the varieties you love to eat to reduce waste and ensure a continued excitement throughout the growing process.

2. Curb your enthusiasm

The most common mistake made by new gardeners is overplanting. When a large number of plants are rooted in a space that does not adequately support their growth, your vegetables will compete for space and resources in the soil, resulting in weak or dying plants.

3. Own your zone

Plant things that are native to your agricultural zone. Your garden will thrive if you work to the rhythm of nature. Your environment determines what you can grow and when.

When asked where to find the best plants in Houston, Chasaty recommends at. shopping local growers and greenhouses. “They mostly carry plants that are already used to our climate.”

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Find a local grower near you using our interactive map of the best garden centers in Houston.

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Erin Creeks is the user-generated content coordinator for Chron Shopping at Hearst Newspapers. Email her at erin.creeks@hearst.com.