Some of the Best Plants to Grow in Your California Home Garden

Some of the Best Plants to Grow in Your California Home Garden

Outdoor and Gardening
Gardening
By Alex Mikayelyan May 05, 2021

If there is one good thing to come out of the coronavirus lockdowns, it’s how so many people started gardening. Though gardening has always been a very popular hobby, it has really taken off since the start of the pandemic, as evidenced by seed shortages in various states across the country. During the Covid pandemic, produce prices also saw an increase as transportation became more difficult. This has been a further incentive for many who weren’t already joyously planting away to consider growing their own produce. 

With the lockdown constantly a looming possibility, and in some places still in effect, millennials, gen-Z, our parents, and boomers alike are beginning to dabble in gardening. California gardeners are no stranger to the grow-it-yourself mentality. The region offers a mild and temperate climate, ideal for cultivating a large variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other plants and home gardens just as, if not more, popular as ever we’ve looked into some of the biggest trends in gardening.

Great Plants to Grow In Your Home Garden

Great Plants to Grow In Your Home Garden

Many new gardeners, however, have trouble deciding what to plant in their new backyard gardens or greenhouses. With so many seeds and saplings on the market, it may be a little daunting to pick out the best vegetables to grow or the most attractive flowers to cultivate. So, we’ve decided to highlight some of the best crops to plant in your California garden, no matter its size. You can start out small, but hopefully, some of these gardening tips and tricks can help you create a luscious California garden for yourself and your family to enjoy.

1. Cherry Tomatoes 

Most Popular Vegetables to Grow in California

Most Popular Vegetables to Grow in California

What makes mini-veggies like cherry tomatoes so good goes beyond their sweet, succulent taste. Thanks to their compact size, they’re some of the best vegetables for container gardening indoors. Plant them, leave them on the windowsill to get plenty of sunlight, and you’ll have a continuous supply of cherry tomatoes all harvest season.

The Different Ways You Can Grow Cherry Tomatoes at Home

The Different Ways You Can Grow Cherry Tomatoes at Home

They’re also a very good place to start for less experienced gardeners thanks to how forgiving they are. With some regular light maintenance (watering and trimming) you’re rewarded with fresh and flavorful cherry tomatoes. Put them on a greek salad, build a base for your pasta sauce, or roast them with some aromatic herbs to make a gorgeous side for any dish.

2. Avocado Tree

How to Grow An Avocado Tree

How to Grow An Avocado Tree

Avocados have become a staple in modern west coast cuisine and is one of the highest in-demand California crops. To not include them in this list would be an injustice to this amazing green fruit that has sparked a new wave in culinary creativity and healthy eating. Make guacamole, slice it up for the veggie tacos, or spread it on some toast. Flavorful, versatile, and nutritious all in one, avocados are one of the most beloved fruits in California. Which makes it an even greater shame to discover how difficult they are to grow. The avocado fruit is notorious for growing very slowly. Alternatively, If you’re thinking of planting a seed, then check to see what you’re doing for the next decade because that’s about how long it will take for the first avocado fruit to grow (on average, 5 - 13 years). 

What to Grow In Your Home Garden

What to Grow In Your Home Garden

On the other hand, the avocado tree is actually much easier to grow. and can be a fun gardening project for you and your family. After planting a grown avocado tree, you can expect the little dragon egg treasures to come in within the first three to four years. Growing the avocado tree is going to be a little more maintenance than some other trees, but this makes it the perfect opportunity to put your gardening skills to the test. Redeeming qualities also include its dense, green foliage; it can make your backyard look like a little forest or help to add some biophilia to your interior as it has no trouble growing inside. 

3. Zucchini 

Why You Should Plant Zucchini In Your Garden

Why You Should Plant Zucchini In Your Garden

The next time you ask yourself “what to plant in my garden” the zucchini might be an easy answer. This green summer squash has been grilled, baked, and pan-fried to create some of the most delicious and healthiest dishes. Its flavorful, juicy interior and the vibrant green or (sometimes) yellow exterior make it the perfect summer crop. Add to that how easy they are to grow and you have an ideal new addition to your garden.

It takes two months to sow, cultivate, and harvest, with each plant yielding up to 10 pounds of zucchinis. You also don’t have to perform any special cultivating tricks like keeping the seed indoors for a few days as you would with other plants. Zucchini plants aren’t particularly needy, but they thrive in lots of moisture, full sunlight, and warm temperatures. Living in California, chances are you have access to all three, making it fantastic for home gardening.

4. Yuzu

Why You Should Grow Yuzu

Why You Should Grow Yuzu

Growing citrus in California is like making cheese in Wisconsin: it’s an icon of the state so it’s everywhere. Californian home gardeners have had citrus trees since the gold rush all the way back in the 1840s. Over 150 years later and you’ll still find citrus trees in the backyards of countless Cali homes. But there’s a new citrus in town and it’s slowly made its way into the hearts of eateries across the country. The yuzu, due to strict federal regulations, cannot be imported from East Asia, where it is native to. However, the Cali climate is perfect for growing it yourself. The yuzu tree grows best under full sunlight, though it can also grow under the shade with a little less yield. The taste is a blend of lemon, lime, and grapefruit, with plenty of that flavorful tartness that can make a party out of any dish.

Considering the import ban on the yuzu and the handful of farmers growing it in California, they are very expensive. A pound of yuzu lemons can cost up to $20, which is pricey for produce, especially since yuzus are significantly less juicy than lemons. Thus you’d need a lot more of them to cook with. With a yuzu tree in your garden, you can ignore those prices entirely and have your own steady supply. 

5. Sweet Potatoes

Vegetables to Grow In Your Home Garden

Vegetables to Grow In Your Home Garden

Starchy, savory, and that perfect dose of sweetness everyone loves: hold on to those redeeming qualities for a minute now. Sweet potatoes may take a while to grow, sometimes up to 5 months. They may also be very sensitive to frost damage, and their cultivation is a bit more labor-intensive than some other veggies. But growing sweet potatoes is deeply rewarding. Sweet potatoes are some of the best vegetables to grow in raised beds, as well as other spuds, like potatoes, in general. You could even grow a sweet potato bush, which is dense foliage of short vines making for great small-space, bio-intensive gardening.

Sweet potatoes will be the absolute last things you plant during the spring, approximately 3 or 4 weeks after the last frost. As sweet potatoes are very sensitive to the cold, you want to make sure to plant them after you know that the cold winter air is long gone. 

6. Arugula 

Fresh Garden Herbs That Are Great to Grow

Fresh Garden Herbs That Are Great to Grow

Fresh garden herbs are very trendy at the moment with the rising awareness of healthy, organic foods. Flavorful dishes are most reliant on fresh ingredients as opposed to dry herbs that come in bottles, packets, or bags. Arugula requires extra care if you’re growing it in a warm climate. If you sow and cultivate arugula in the summer heat, it will develop a pungent bitterness, overshadowing its otherwise smoky and peppery flavor. Like other shade-tolerant vegetables, as long as arugula has enough water and rich soil to grow in, it doesn’t need much heat. Professional gardeners recommend planting it in cooler seasons, either early spring or fall, allowing the arugula to grow in time for the harvest. Just make sure they don’t get scorched by the sun when the summer heat arrives.

Why You Should Grow Arugula at Home

Why You Should Grow Arugula at Home

Similar to its cruciferous cousins like broccoli and kale, arugula is a perfect example. You can use arugula to add some peppery flavor to your salads and pizzas, without the added spiciness that traditional peppers come with. It offers a range of health benefits, from helping to control weight and digestions, to improving the health of your eyes, heart, and providing some much-needed vitamin K that helps strengthen the bones.

7. Asparagus

The Perfect Vegetables to Grow Yourself

The Perfect Vegetables to Grow Yourself

On the topic of healthy eating: asparagus is still going strong as one of the most popular California vegetables. Sowing season for asparagus is around the same time as potatoes — as soon as the soil is workable. In a home garden, if you utilize the correct soil blend, you can keep the asparagus growing for years with minimal maintenance or care. If you’re unsure about getting soil types just right and a Google search leaves you more confused, you can consult with a soft scraper to tell you exactly what you need.

Their longevity is a perfect plus since these green, savory stalks are far from going out of trend. They’re a match made in heaven with grilled salmon, but also make an excellent grilled appetizer on their own. Asparagus is rich in fiber, vitamins A, C, and K — you know it’s healthy when the list includes 1/7th of the alphabet. It has also been known to lower blood pressure, help keep calorie intake low, and strengthen the liver thanks to its effect on certain enzymes.

Written by
Alex Mikayelyan

Written by Alex Mikayelyan