plums in bowl

Spring is Here Zone 8-10 Gardening Advice

Timothy Hammond

What’s up, world? Guess what? No matter where you are, if you’re in the northern hemisphere, it’s springtime. And that has to be one of the favorite phrases for gardeners worldwide. So, you know what that means: It’s time to clean off your rusty tools, grab your garden journal, head to your favorite plant nursery, and get back in the garden.

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What am I planting this month?

March is a warm month in Houston, Texas, zone nine. Our average temperature is over 70°F, but we can still plant some cool season crops if we get them in the ground early in the month because our average nighttime temperature is around 60°F.

Every gardener I know has a list of projects they can’t wait to start once spring arrives. I will be swamped planting in almost every garden bed around my yard this month. If you remember the front yard transformation I spoke about, well, now it is the time to plant all these beds.  Before I begin listing, I have two things to say: First, I know this long list is not all-inclusive, and second, if you live somewhere where spring hasn’t sprung yet, I hope this is not triggering. 

 

  • Tomatoes- for some reason, tomatoes seem to be every gardener’s favorite thing to grow. Unfortunately, I don’t fall into that category. While I enjoy growing tomatoes, to me, they are just another crop in my yard. I make sure to plant varieties that I know I will eat; the fall tomato season is when I experiment with new varieties, but in the springtime, I always plant my favorite variety, which happens to be the San Marzano tomatoes. In my eyes, I don’t know if there is a better tomato. You can eat them fresh, can them, or even turn them into a sauce or salsa. They’re not too sweet, but sweet enough to make you want to grow them every year, and the best part is they yield like crazy.
  • Tomatillos- this is one of my favorite crops to grow. Even though the names sound similar, tomatillos and tomatoes are not related. Tomatillos belong to the nightshade family. I love growing tomatillos because I keep salsa Verde in my fridge year-round, and nothing is better than salsa Verde from tomatillos and chilis that you grow yourself. Tomatillos are a fruit that is covered in a husk. Once you remove that husk, you will notice a smooth and slightly sticky skinned fruit. I plant them in March and harvest the fruits through the summer until the fall.
  • Green Beans- who doesn’t love green beans? Especially fresh green beans from your garden. With so many varieties of green beans, it is hard to choose just one, so this year, I decided to grow two different varieties. The first is called Ferrari. It is a bush Bean that develops early and is a compact plant that can be grown in containers. My favorite thing about them is that they are unaffected by the common mosaic virus. The second variety that I’m growing is known as French fillet. These long, thin beans are famous in many gourmet restaurants, and I need to understand why.  I can’t wait to see which one I prefer.
  • Corn- every year, I say I’m going to grow the best ears of corn, and every year, I forget to sow my corn in the springtime, but not this year. This year I set a reminder in my phone to ensure I sow my containers and garden beds with corn. Last year, I experimented with growing corn in a bed on the side of the house and was unsuccessful because I did not water it consistently. This was before I set up the drip irrigation in that bed. This year, I plan to plant corn in the front beds in front of my house and a couple of 20-gallon containers. As much as I wanted to grow a popcorn variety, I told myself I would work through all the seeds I already had at my house instead of purchasing new ones. So, I will plant a sweetcorn variety called Peaches and Cream. This variety prefers cooler temperatures under 85°F and is ready to harvest around 85 days.
  • Eggplants—I used to grow four varieties of eggplants in my garden yearly, but then I found myself eating only one, and that variety is called Ichiban. So, rather than waste valuable space in my garden, I will plant only this variety this year. This is a Japanese eggplant variety that produces eggplants on the smaller side. I prefer harvesting this variety when it is small. It has a better flavor during this stage.
  • Sunflowers- These are my favorite flowers to add to my garden. Now, I always plant more than one variety of sunflowers. This year, I’ll be growing the teddy bear variety, the Mexican torch variety, and the mammoth variety, which grows to over 8 feet tall.   Sunflowers seem to be a favorite of all of the pollinators in my garden, and since I have a small ape area in my backyard, I need to ensure that I have enough pollen and nectar-producing plants for the bees.

  • Sweet Potato-for the past two summers, I have had a disappointing sweet potato harvest, and I figured it out. At first, I thought it was due to insufficient water, but I realized that I was waiting too late in the season to plant my sweet potatoes this year. I will plant sweet potatoes this month and harvest them within 120 days.
  • Peppers- peppers are by far my favorite thing to grow. I use them daily. I pickle them, eat them fresh, dry them, and turn them into a pepper powder that I call gunpowder. This year, I’m growing multiple varieties. I’m growing Serranos jalapeños, yellow jalapeños, scotch, bonnets, habaneros, Santaka, and Thai chilies. Maybe one day I’ll get into growing sweet peppers, but right now, I am obsessed with hot peppers. If you want to ensure that your peppers produce before the summer heat, then March is the ideal time to plant them in your garden.

 

What didn’t work in the garden?

My poor attitude didn’t work in the garden. I’ve been neglecting my garden because I have a lot of other things on my mind, but when spring rolls around and the weather shifts, my mind seems clearer and more focused, and I have been for years.

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What else am I doing around the Garden?

For the next year, I will record all the food I grow in my small urban garden, and I expect to produce well over 600 pounds of food this year.

I mentioned last month that I would add plum trees to my front yard orchard, but I never got around to purchasing them. Instead, I planted a dwarf bonanza peach and a sunset red nectarine. Now, nectarines don’t do exceptionally well in my gardening zone, but this low-chill variety should grow well out here. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. 

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I hope that you are ready for springtime. I hope you are prepared for a new beginning because I know I am. I would love to hear about what you have going on in your garden, so if you want to follow me on social media at Big City Gardner and if you want to check out what I’m doing in my garden, then make sure to head over to the big city, Gardner, YouTube channel and check on the Vlog section.  I post multiple weekly videos showing everything I do in the garden. I hope this is your best gardening growing season yet, and remember, there’s only one way to make that happen: get outside, get your hands in the dirt, and just grow it.

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