In recent years, more families have embraced backyard food gardening. Growing fruits, vegetables and herbs is a rewarding experience providing the freshest, organic food for your table. It is also nice to know that salad is growing in the backyard when store shelves become bare.

If you are new to growing fruits or vegetables, here are some tips on how to start.

Start small with containers
An easy way to begin your food growing adventure is with containers. Most vegetables, including leaf lettuce, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, and herbs are suitable to grow in a container. Some fruits also do well in containers, like figs and variegated pink lemons.

Texas A&M has a complete guide to container vegetable gardening that can help you select the right pot, watering and light to make your container food garden thrive.

Pick easy to grow varieties
Central Texas has a long growing season, but extreme heat and heavy rainfall are challenges for even the most seasoned farmers. To increase your chance for success, consider these proven fruit and vegetable varieties.

  • Heat and drought tolerant: Okra, southern peas, asparagus beans, and spinach (molokia and malabar varieties)
  • Fruits: Peaches, Brazos blackberries, methley plums, brown turkey figs
  • Vegetables: Bravo cabbage, red sails lettuce, California white garlic, sweet success cucumbers

Make your plan for a larger autumn garden
It is not too late to plant seeds for summer, like okra and other heat tolerant varieties. But if you are just starting, you can use this time to prepare your garden plot for a late summer/early autumn season. Autumn is an ideal time to grow. With the first frost typically occurring in December, you have plenty of great months to harvest.

1. Prepare your garden plot. When selecting your site look for:

  • Nearly full sunlight – 6-8 hours for most crops
  • Easy access to water
  • Deep, well-drained fertile soil – Dig down and improve the soil with manure or build up a raised bed and fill with high quality soil

2. Select your crop and start your seeds indoors while you prepare your garden plot.

How to start growing food now