Instagram (@kaylamking), you know that I’m basically an 80 year old lady that gardens, cooks for her husband, and hangs out with her crazy dogs all weekend, every weekend. I tend to putter around the house on my days off, doing chores or making new art, inviting friends over on occasion, but I’m not so much one with the “going out” as I was ten, heck even five, years ago. I blame my thirties.
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The nice part of being a homebody is that the house is
always mostly clean, and I can count on the trees and plants that I’ve planted in the yard to bring me loads of goodies each summer. So, for today’s post, I wanted to share with you my top eight plants to grow in the summer months.
1. Sweet peas. One June, for my mom’s birthday about five years ago, my family surprised her and we all drove down to the Getty Center in LA. It had just rained the day before, so the sky was crisp and clear and you could see all the way to the ocean. My favorite part of the Getty Center is the garden out back. My mom and I like to wander around in the plants, slowly looking at and smelling every flower. This visit, we noticed that there were some beautiful sweet peas growing over an arbor in deep shades of plum and burgundy. We also noticed that the plant was starting to go to seed, it’s vines thick with seed pods, many of which had dried out. Ok, so here’s the part where I’m a total thief, but we took a few seed pods with us from the museum to plant back home. From then on, I have plant sweet peas every year and most years they reseed themselves. Aside from my stolen variety, my favorite variety of sweet pea comes from Renee’s Garden. Called “April in Paris“, they are the most fragrant variety I have ever smelled, have gorgeous long stems, and lovely cream colored petals trimmed with pink. They are super easy to sow in the ground after the last frost and grow very quickly. I could not recommend them enough.
2. Dahlias. I love these quirky little (or big) flowers. They come in all shapes and sizes and if you live near where I do (Zone 15), you don’t even have to dig up the bulbs in the winter. You can just forget about them and they pop up every spring, with their cartoony heads and long necks, just waiting to make you smile. Right now I have some little dwarf dahlias planted, but next year I’m going to plant the big boys.
3. Blueberries. What’s better than going outside and picking your own blueberries. Nothing. Aside from birds liking the taste of these berries as much as I do, the blueberry plant is basically trouble free. They like acid, so I sprinkle my used coffee grinds on their root zone every other week. We have two highbush varieties, but I want to grow these pink lemonade (!) blueberries sometime soon.
4. Basil. My favorite herb by far, I love its licorice-y peppery flavor. I could literally just chew on the leaves all summer. I love in in everything, from cocktails to salads, with grilled veggies, and my favorite preparation: torn with tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, and sea salt. It bums me out that it’s an annual, but I bet if I had access to it all year, I wouldn’t appreciate it as much as I do when I get to enjoy it every spring.
5. Raspberry. Truth be told, my raspberry vines are threatening to take over a corner of my front yard. I can’t complain too much, though. The look on John’s face when he get’s the first raspberries of the season is worth all the tiny tiny thorns in my hands from ripping vines back. I grow an everbearing type and it seems like they fruit from June through October…and I really can’t get enough. Yum! Raspberries are pretty easy to grow, even if you have a little corner of your yard to plant a small plant, I’d totally recommend it.
6. Marigolds. Not my favorite flower (visually anyway), I grow these because they attract beneficial insects that benefit other plants in my garden. I plant them underneath my fruit trees and near my strawberries. Apparently they also repel mosquitoes. Bonus!
7. Tomato. My favorite fruit (vegetable?) of all time, I could (and do) eat them like apples. The first year I got to plant a real vegetable garden at our house, I think I planted about 20 plants. My plan was to have enough to preserve, but were any left at the end of the season? No. I had eaten every one. Good thing John likes tomatoes as much as I do (well, at least half as much as I do), because I don’t think I could be with someone who didn’t like tomatoes. It must be the Italian in me. One of my favorite varieties of tomatoes to grow is called Stupice, but I also really love Sweet 100 and Yellow Pear cherry tomatoes. Paired with basil, this is my summertime anthem (pretty sure that made no sense, but you get the point). Tomatoes, you complete me.
8. Artichoke. I have had one globe artichoke plant in the front yard for the past 4 years that just keeps on keepin’ on. I thought I killed it once. It came back. I didn’t water it for a month. It kept truckin’. Now I just cut it back every fall, and come spring, divide the new pups off of the main plant and plant new artichokes every year. I’m up to four plants total. Given how much I love them (and how freaking expensive they are in the store), I’ll happily keep planting the as long as I have the space. They are heavy feeders (steer manure, blood meal, etc.), but need little water or attention once established.
So there you have it! I hope this inspires you to go forth and plant some goodies this summer. Or at least pick up a little basil (or any herb) and put it in a little pot on your windowsill. Happy planting!
Images via my landscape board on Pinterest.