What I’m Growing in My Garden This Year (Beyond Basil, of Course)

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Ursula Carmona of Home Made By Carmona

I want to clarify right away that I do, in fact, love basil. I’m growing tons of sweet basil this year that I will later freeze and use in sauce all winter long. Basil, you are the best. 

I consider myself a novice gardener with a lot of knowledge I have yet to put into practice. Though I don’t have a greenhouse or acres of land to sow seeds just yet, I am always so excited to get out in the garden and begin growing all summer long. Before that can happen, though, it's important for me to decide what to grow. I'm hoping this will span beyond the started plants I usually purchase and sprout from the variety of seeds I recently ordered. 

Beyond basil, there are so many varieties of herbs and veggies that I am attempting to grow—I say "attempting" since I am going to begin my seed-starting journey soon, and I'm simply praying things will germinate. With that hope, here are the seeds I am planting and a few staples I am growing in my garden this year.

01 of 09

Roma Tomatoes

Roma Tomato

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

  • Botanical Name: Solanum Iycopersicum ‘Roma’
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Days to Maturity: 75–80 days

A classic paste tomato, the Roma is a slender plum tomato that is trademarked for sauce production—and I am growing this one for this exact reason. In the past, I always chose whichever hybrid tomato varieties my local nursery was carrying without thinking about their uses, but no two kinds of tomato are created equal, as I’ve learned on my gardening journey.

The Roma tomato is a quintessential plum tomato—perfect for sauce or tomato paste—and I’m so excited to try this variety out this year.

02 of 09

Silver Slicer Cucumber

Cucumber plant climbing up trellis.

Ursula Carmona of Home Made by Carmona

  • Botanical Name: Cucumis sativus
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Days to Maturity: 50–65 days

Cucumbers are one of my favorite things to grow in the garden. The way they ramble and trellis makes them a gorgeous addition to the garden, and usually my cucumber plants stay healthy and prolific most of the summer.

This season, I specifically purchased Silver Slicer cucumber seeds from Hudson Valley Seed Co., as the garden community really loves this variety and says it's great for snacking. They are short and light in color, and I'm looking forward to seeing how growing this variety works out for me.

03 of 09

Red Rosso Sicilian Tomato

Red Rosso Sicilian tomato.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

  • Botanical Name: Lycopersicon esculentum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Days to Maturity: 80 days

As I mentioned, my tomatoes in the past haven't been all that impressive. So, after conducting some research, I decided to try and grow some heirloom tomato varieties from seed, including this Red Rosso Sicilian tomato.

Fluted and firm, this Sicilian tomato was given to a grower in Indiana as a great tomato for producing sauce—which will also be my main plan for this tomato.

04 of 09

Black Beauty Zucchini

Black Beauty Zucchini squash.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

  • Botanical Name: Cucurbita pepo
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Days to Maturity: 40-65 days

I had a bit of trouble growing zucchini at first, and I attributed my failure to simply not giving them enough space. Zucchini plants need lots of room, but once they're given the space to grow, they produce tons of delicious fruit.

A favorite in Italian cooking, the zucchini flowers don't go unused. My family loves to eat zucchini flowers lightly fried in oil and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

05 of 09

Rosemary

Fresh basil, mint and rosemary are growing in a large white flower pot on windowsill indoors.

Julija Kumpinovica/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Salvia rosmarinus
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Days to Maturity: 90–120 days

Not only is rosemary easy to care for, but it also has a lovely fragrance and is super prolific. Last season, I grew lots of rosemary in my garden and dried the leaves, and I have used it all winter long in cooking. I love that the plant's uses go beyond its life in the garden, making it an essential herb for me to grow.

06 of 09

Bumble Bee Cherry Tomatoes

Bumble bee cherry tomato.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

  • Botanical Name: Solanum lycopersicum ‘Bumble Bee’
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Days to Maturity: 70 days

Last year, my favorite plant in my garden, no contest, was my cherry tomato plant. Cherry tomato plants love to outgrow their supports, produce tons of fruit, and survive late into the fall.

As I had success growing a basic variety last year, I decided to try this Bumble Bee variety, which boasts pretty streaking throughout the fruit.

07 of 09

Little Gem Lettuce Mix

Little gem lettuce mix.

Hudson Valley Seed Co.

  • Botanical Name: Lactuca sativa
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Days to Maturity: 35 days

I haven't grown a lettuce variety yet, and I'm really excited to try this one. The mix produces several miniature heads of lettuce that will be quick to grow and won't take up too much space in my garden bed.

08 of 09

Eggplant

Diamond eggplant.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

  • Botanical Name: Solanum melongena
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Days to Maturity: 55–80 days

Another culinary staple for me, eggplant is a must in the garden. There are so many different varieties to try, but this year I'm going with the classic dark purple variety.

09 of 09

Basil

basil plants in pink pots on windowsill


OlgaMiltsova/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Ocimum basilicum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Days to Maturity: 4–5 weeks

Good ol' basil. Really, this herb is perfect for any garden: It is a great companion plant, is super prolific, and is really easy to maintain. Plus, who wouldn't love a fresh snip of basil when making a fresh summer pizza?

Basil signifies the summer garden for me, and I will definitely be planting quite a lot of it.

There are several ways to preserve basil over the winter. My preferred method is sealing several leaves in an airtight bag and freezing them, taking them out when you need them.

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