With two growing seasons under my belt and plenty of lessons learned, I am ready for spring planting! I am still a novice gardener but feel much more comfortable and confident in the garden than I did a year ago. Here's what I'm planting for the spring and summer season that will (hopefully!) survive the summer heat and last through October!
Last year we added a raised bed for growing seasonal produce and as soon as the cement dried, I jumped right into gardening. I had no idea what I was doing and made so many mistakes! From the scorching Arizona summer heat to battling unfamiliar garden pests, I had a pretty terrible harvest last year - if any harvest at all! Now, I'm excited to take what I learned from last spring's trial garden and give this new garden a go!
What is Already Thriving
Luckily, I have a few plants that are doing really well, some of which have already lasted a couple of seasons. Some plants will keep going until the weather warms up and they'll go to seed, while others I expect to live for years to come!
🥬 Lettuce: I planted a few varieties from seed in the fall that did really well. Lettuce is a cool weather plant, so I know they are going to start struggling as the weather warms up. Next fall I am going to try high intensity lettuce planting from seed - check out this YouTube video that shows you exactly how to do it!
🌿 Asparagus: I added 4 asparagus plants to my garden bed in January. Asparagus is a long-term commitment because they can live for 15+ years and you can't harvest or trim the plant until the asparagus is the width of a pencil, which happens around year three. The asparagus I planted was already a year old and has these tiny little asparagus spears poking through the ferns.
🍓 Strawberries: I transplanted 6 strawberry plants last spring and they are still going strong! Strawberries can last for years but their fruit-producing ability starts to decline after their third year. I am anxiously awaiting their first spring flush and hope the warm spring weather wakes up my little strawberries soon!
🌱 Herbs: I have a specific section of the garden bed dedicated to herbs. Last spring, from seed I planted tarragon, chives, and oregano, and transplanted rosemary and thyme.
New Spring Plantings
In Phoenix, our warmer climate means we get an early spring growing season. My seeds and transplants went into the ground around the end of February and they will hopefully last through the +100˚F summer temps, which start mid May. If my plants survive the scorching summer heat, they will keep going until the end of October.
Here is what I planted in my Spring 2021 Novice garden. At the very bottom, I linked all of the seeds listed if you want to grow the same varieties too!
🥒 Armenian Cucumber: Armenian cucumbers love the heat and thrive in our scorching Arizona summer temperatures. I have a wooden trellis in place for them to climb which will provide some shade for my zucchinis underneath. I planted two different Armenian cucumber varieties from seed, one is called the dark green variety and the other striped snake.
🌱Basil: I'm planting Basil from seed and I can't wait for it to take off. Basil loves the heat and can get really big but I know I'll be using it often, which will help keep it a smaller size.
🌶 Bell Peppers: Bell pepper plants are extremely popular and I bought the last two from a local nursery! In general, peppers are best when transplanted rather than started from seed. Winter temperatures in Phoenix are pretty mild, so our pepper plants can last multiple seasons.
🍈 Cantaloupe: This will be my second attempt at growing cantaloupe and I am hoping to have better luck this time. Last year, I missed the ideal planting window and my melon got torched by the summer heat. By the end of the season, I had a few small melons but they never grew big enough to mature into edible fruit. This year I am planting early and I hope I will get some melons this time!
🍉 Watermelon: I tried a watermelon transplant last year and just like last year's cantaloupe, I missed the ideal planting window and the plant didn't do very well. This year, I planted the Crimson Sweet variety from seed and can't wait to watch it take over my garden bed!
Zucchini: Zucchinis are one of my favorite vegetables and this year I planted 3 different varieties. Of the two compact varieties I planted, one is a more a traditional style called Black Beauty, while the other is a Round variety that grows zucchinis into a circular shape. The Grey Summer variety is going to be a larger plant but zucchinis are a unique light green color and really pretty.
Where I Bought My Seeds
For the last year, I've been buying all of my seeds from Amazon because of the pandemic. Not only was I avoiding having to go physically into stores but when I would go, many popular seeds were out of stock. As people started working from home, there was a huge surge in new gardeners and many nurseries and garden centers couldn't keep up with demand. Buying online also helped me find specialty varieties, like the Dark Green Armenian Cucumber and the Round Zucchini.
- Below are Amazon affiliate links to all of the seed varieties I am trying this year. I am linking the exact seed and the exact brand I bought and planted in my garden. -
For the entire 2021 spring/summer and fall/winter growing season, I will label all garden-related blog posts as the Novice Garden 2021. If you want to check out all Novice Garden 2021 updates, use my website's search feature at the top of the page to find all of the gardening blog posts related to this year.
WHAT ARE YOU PLANTING THIS SPRING? Are you a new gardener too? I would love to read about your garden ventures in the comment section below!