I’ve had several folks ask, recently, what we’re growing in the garden this year, and for timing, recommendations, etc. on planting. Since planting season is upon us* and I’ve already worn down FCL’s ears talking about it, I thought I’d outline some thoughts on the blog.

If you’re not interested in gardening, this epistle will be of little excitement to you.


(But if you are, will you please leave your name, phone number, email address, fax, favorite color, etc. in the comments section? xoxoxo.)

I blame the previous owners of our house (and genetics) for my interest in gardening. When we bought our house, it was evident that the folks who lived here before us took great pleasure in tending their front yard. Unfortunately, they ‘tended’ the front yard by creating elaborate beds half filled with odd plants that bloom hot pink, collecting yard art, and curating a vast collection of incredibly invasive plants for which I have no taste.

So, in an attempt to modify our yard to look less like a crazy cat lady lives in our house, I had to learn about the things already growing in our (full shade) front yard. I killed at least 6 full sun plants the first year we lived here by trying to coax them to exist in our full shade front yard. I am still learning to embrace the shade. Things like this and this have helped.

Our primary garden (in the backyard) is 24 feet by 7 feet. I used to think this was huge -now I think I could fill 4 beds this size. We have great soil up here, so instead of a totally raised bed, several years ago we dug out a space (and by we, I mean at least 70%, if not more, of my patient husband, sometimes after dark wearing a headlamp) and then mixed our soil with purchased soil, compost, manure, and peat.

I have a couple of little spaces at the foot of our deck that we use for gardening as well. This space housed The Great Pumpkin Experiment of 2010, which I’ll detail in a later post. Suffice it to say, FCL has banned me from pumpkin production this year.

Here’s a list of the plants we are growing and plan to grow this year with very (VERY) brief notes as to when to plant, and how (from seed, transplant, bulb, etc.). Notes on care will come later in the season, I suppose.

I’ll go into greater detail as I have stories to tell about the growth of each. If this year is anything like the last several, the growing season will involve some kind of garden pest convention in the middle of my vegetables, my hate/hate relationship with the people who work at Lowe’s, a shovel, gophers, me wringing my hands and biting my fingernails, and a dead gardenia (I cannot help but plant this, my favorite flower, every year, and subsequently kill it).

English Roses

LD Braithwaite, Pat Austin, Jude the Obscure, Sharifa Asma, Graham Thomas, and Golden Celebration

Plant from bare root in February/March using manure, bone meal, and mulch.

Source: David Austin Roses

Daisies- Alaska

Perennial (which I’m guessing you know, but just in case, means it comes back year after year). I’ve been told that in our area (planting zone 7b, for Birmingham, 8 for Jackson) the rule of thumb is to plant tender perennials and summer annuals on Good Friday, not before. Some years I am patient enough to wait this long, others I am not. I will say, it is probably better to abide by this rule.

Source: Bluestone Perennials

Phlox David

Perennial. Good Friday.

Source: Bluestone Perennials

Rudbeckia Prairie Sun (Black Eyed Susans)

Perennial/Annual – it depends on which kind you have. Mine have come back every year. Start from seed indoors in early March (using something like this). Transplant to yard on Good Friday. This can spread, so watch it if you’re in a limited space.

Source: Harris Seeds

Dahlia- Honeydew, McAlister’s

Perennial. I heart Dahlias. I have successfully divided and multiplied their tubers, but gophers and slugs take out the bulk of my growth every year. Not to be diverted, I am planting my tubers this year in chicken wire and coating them in hot sauce. We shall see. Plant tubers in March.

Source: Swan Island Dahlias

Sunflowers- autumn mix

Annual. Sow directly in the ground outdoors Good Friday. Make sure your dog doesn’t trample the bed mid-season.

Source: Lowe’s, Harris Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Echinacia (Purple Coneflowers)

Perennial. Start seeds indoors in early March. Move transplants outdoors on Good Friday. Or buy transplants at a garden center.

Source: Lowe’s

Cosmos- orange, versailles

Annual. Scatter seeds outdoors on Good Friday, and again in May and June for repeat blooms throughout summer. Seeds are VERY EASY to collect once the flowers die, and then you have your crop for next summer.

Source: my grandmother’s garden, Harris Seeds


Perennial. Plant outdoors on Good Friday.

Source: Bluestone Perennials


Perennial. Ideally, plant transplant in fall for bloom the next spring. Slow growing, but gorgeous.

Source: Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Hanna’s Garden Shop


Perennial. Plant bulbs in fall, 4-6″ deep. The bulbs are poisonous, so gophers/moles won’t pilfer them. They are the only bulbs that survive in my garden, and they are gorgeous.

Source: Old House Gardens, Costco


Perennial, apparently. It took all of last season to figure out what exactly this alien plant was growing in my garden, since I didn’t remember planting any garlic. 5 foot tall stalks, beautiful purple globular flower. Smells like… garlic.

Source: I have no idea where I purchased this, or when I planted it, but it grows.

Kniphofia Flamenco

Perennial. This will be our first year growing. Plan to plant on Good Friday.

Source: Bluestone Perennials

Eryguim Blue Hobbit

Perennial. This will be our first year growing. Plan to plant on Good Friday.

Source: Bluestone Perennials

Dianthus Desmond

Perennial. This will be our first year growing. Plan to plant on Good Friday.

Source: Bluestone Perennials

Aquilega Black Barlow

Perennial. This will be our first year growing. Plan to plant on Good Friday. This is a shade plan with (shocking) blue flowers. Front yard addition!

Source: Bluestone Perennials

Carrots- Nantidino and Scarlet Nantes

Annual. Direct sow seed outdoors February or March.

Source: Harris Seeds

Tomato – Super Sweet, Big Boy, Scarlet Red, Tornadose Des Conores

Annual. Start seeds indoors in early March. Transplant outside Good Friday or later. I did all heirloom seeds last year, which produced a few beautiful tomatoes, but which are much more susceptible to drought in the South. This year I’m primarily sticking to more hearty types.

Source: Harris Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Watermelon- Verona

Annual. Last year’s watermelon failed because it was overrun by the aforementioned pumpkin experiment. This year I plan to baby it. Start seed inside in late March, and transplant outdoors after Good Friday.

Source: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. This variety was developed in 1965 at MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY! I’m sure it will taste like WINNING but hopefully not like tiger blood or warlocks.


Annual. This will be my first try at this. I plan to purchase a transplant at Lowe’s or Andy’s Farm Market and put in the ground on Good Friday. This one probably needs to be trellised.

Zucchini – Elite

Annual. This is year number one on zucchini also. Start seeds indoors at the end of March. Transplant outdoors on Good Friday. This needs to be trellised. I will grow it on my garden fence.

Source: Harris Seeds

Cucumber – Japanese Long

Annual. We have had prolific cucumber crops the last few years. You can either start from seed in late March to transplant outdoors on Good Friday, or wait and just direct seed outside in late April. Trellis this one.

Source: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Lettuce- Buttercrunch, Arugula, Red Sail

Annual. Direct seed outdoors in February or March, and again in September for a fall crop. This will die out once it gets particularly hot outside. Arugula is typically the best performer.

Source: Dr. Lou Heck- master gardener, and Harris Seeds

Herbs- tarragon, sweet basil, cinnamon basil, opal basil, cilantro, rosemary, flat leaf parsley, pineapple sage, lemon thyme, oregano, dill, mint, chocolate mint, chives

All except basil can be started in early March. I usually buy transplants because they’re cheap and I’m impatient. Rosemary and mint are perennial, parsley is biennial, and the rest are kind of hit or miss as to whether they’ll last beyond the winter. Basil needs to wait until Good Friday to be planted. All of these need full sun, except the mint and rosemary, which can tolerate part sun.

Source: Andy’s Farm Market, Pepper Place market

Zinnia- Benary’s Giant, Dreamland, Magellen, Cactus, California Giant, Starkville Mystery Mix

Annual. My summer staple. Start from seed in early March, and transplant outside on Good Friday.

Source: Harris Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Gaddis Hunt. If you are anywhere near Starkville, Miss., whatever you do, BUY A FLAT OF ZINNIAS FROM GADDIS HUNT. They are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and they grow like a charm. He sells a flat (20 plants) for $10, and if you’re interested, I have his phone number.

Hellenium Mardi Gras

Perennial. Plant transplant on Good Friday.

Source: Bluestone Perennials


Perennial/Annual. I guess it just depends. I planted seeds last year that didn’t amount to much, but there are still small plants growing in the garden. And now thanks to sweet FCL, who brought home some transplants yesterday as a surprise, we may actually have a strawberry harvest this spring. Sow seeds outside maybe in the fall or winter for a spring harvest?

Source: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Leaf and Petal


This will be year number one on the radishes. Sow seeds outside in late February/early March.

Source: Dr. Lou Heck- master gardener.

Cockscomb- Indiana Giant

Annual. Start seeds indoors in early March, move transplants outside on Good Friday. EASY to collect the seeds from these bad boys to have for next summer’s garden. This is the fuchsia plant that looks like a brain.

Source: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds


Perennial. Put transplants in the ground on Good Friday, or in late summer for the following year. Daylilies make prolific “babies,” so you’ll end up with triple the amount you planted originally within a couple of years.

Source: Shepherd Daylily Far

If you’re thinking about starting, or expanding, your garden this year, I hope this gives you something to chew on!

If this is your first year starting from seed, here’s a great step-by-step: http://awaytogarden.com/seed-starting-basics.

Happy Seed Season!

*for SOME things, not ALL things 🙂