Vegetable Guide


Companion Planting

tomatoes, parsley, basil
potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, cabbage, summer savory, most other vegetables and herbs
onions, garlic, gladiolus
corn, summer savory
onions, beets, kohlrabi
potatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, celery, summer savory
onions, kohlrabi
pole beans
Cabbage Family
aromatic plants, potatoes, dill, celery, chamomile, sage, peppermint, rosemary, beets, onions
strawberries, tomatoes, pole beans
peas, leaf lettuce, chives, onions, leeks, rosemary, sage, tomatoes
leek, tomatoes, c cauliflower, bush beans, cabbage
peas, beans
potatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, pumpkin, squash
beans, corn, peas, radishes, sunflowers
kohlrabi, potato, fennel, cabbage
onions, celery, carrots
carrots, radishes, strawberry, cucumber
(carrots, lettuce and radish make a strong team)
(also Garlic)
beets, strawberry, tomato, lettuce, summer savory,
chamomile (sparsely)
peas, beans
tomato, asparagus
carrots, turnips, radishes, cucumbers, corn, beans, most vegetables and herbs
onions, garlic, gladiolus, potato
beans, corn, cabbage, horseradish (should be planted at the corner of the patch), marigold, eggplant (as a lure for Colorado Potato beetle)
pumpkin, squash, cucumber, sunflower, tomato, raspberry
peas, nasturtium, lettuce, cucumber
grows with anything, helps everything
nasturtium, corn
bush bean, spinach, borage, lettuce (as a border)
chives, onions, parsley, asparagus, marigold, nasturtium, carrots


Idaho potato advertising goes old school with pinup models in potato sack dresses — from an exhibit at the Prince Edward Island Potato Museum in Canada. This gal looks a bit like Marilyn Monroe to me. Awesomesauce!

Potatoes Are Easy To Grow In Ground or In Containers

There's nothing nicer than eating a fresh potato. Fresh harvested potatoes are nuttier, buttery, and less starch tasting than potatoes that have been harvested, shipped and moved from one packing house to another before it even makes its way to a grocer. 

Potatoes of all varieties grow just about anywhere; though, some don't like too wet of soil or too dry. It's all about trying to find the right variety of potato for taste and easy growing. Potatoes are easy to grow and they pretty much grow themselves. There's no pruning, pinching back or staking as like tomato plants. 

I've found throughout the years that growing potatoes in the desert / arid conditions is easiest when grown either in containers or using the hay method. There's no digging holes, taking up needed space or mixing and amending soil conditions. My biggest battle with growing potatoes in the ground are battling gophers. For some reason gophers in my neighborhood are more attracted to potatoes than sweet potatoes and other root vegetables like beets. I never have a problem with gophers and my Detroit Red beets or Purple Top turnips.

The benefit to growing potatoes in a container is that when it's time to harvest the potatoes, you simply knock over the container on a tarp and pick up your potatoes. You can then reused the soil. The tarp makes it easy to re-purpose the soil.

 I've learned never to reused the container dirt for growing potatoes for growing tomatoes. Both are from the same family called nightshades and if your potatoes have a disease then the tomatoes that you planted in the          same soil will most likely be effected by the disease. 

New fad is people are actually grafting potato and tomato plants together. As the roots of the potato plants are developing potatoes, above ground tomatoes are being produce. Grafting potato and tomato plants together is easy but, the plants tend to be heavy feeders. 

I was raised with growing potatoes in the ground to growing in potato bags or 10 gallon buckets. When the season was predicted to be too wet, we used containers to grow potatoes. 

Growing potatoes in the southwestern dirt is easy. Simply bury or cover the potato with soil, hay or even shredded paper. As the plant grows (about every four inches), cover the leaves again. Allow a bit of the leaves to peak out for faster growing. Keep the soil moist but, not saturated. 

Potatoes are American - of the Americas

The Potato was first cultivated by the Inca Indians in Peru, in and around the Lake Titicaca region of the Andean Mountains about 200 B.C. 

In 1537. The Spanish Conquistadors discovered the Potatoes while raping and pillaging South America. Besides taking potato varieties back to Spain, they had also taken gold, slaves, cacao and fruits.  

The first documented potato in North America was in the year 1621. What was once a delicacy for the wealthy are now one of the largest and most beloved food crops in the world. According to USDA, about 50 percent of the potato food crop is processed for French fries. God bless farmers!

Growing Requirements for Potatoes

Potatoes require full sun to grow. They're aggressive rooting plants and will produce the best crop when planted in a light, loose, and well drained moist but not wet sandy loam. 

Potatoes prefer a slightly acid soil with a pH of 5.8-6.5 (purchase under $20 pH balance tester) but, don't worry much about pH balance because, potatoes are most adaptable and will usually produce a bountiful crop no matter the soil condition. The better the soil condition the larger the potatoes. 

Potato crops should be rotated every 3 years. This means that you should change the soil or move the bed to another spot; otherwise, disease could set in or all of the nutrients can be depleted.

  Potatoes can be grown indoors. Be sure to keep the soil about 55F or more. I've seen other gardeners living in snow bound regions keep a heating pad set on low underneath a potato bag. Place your container indoors near sunlight. This will urge the plants to grow up and out. 

Planting Potatoes Is Easy

Growing a potato is as easy as digging a hole and dropping in the potato seed or making a bed of hay.

I grow potatoes in USDA Hardiness Zone 8B and 10. I'm lucky to be able to grow potatoes all year long. We have extremely long growing seasons here in southern California. 

Sweet potatoes are a little more delicate to grow year round than potatoes. My favorite varieties are Norgold Russet, Red La Soda, White Rose (Commonly grown in Ireland). The trick is to plant them in intervals. 

I start Norgold Russet in early Spring, Red La Soda in July - August, then I plant White Rose in September. 

Planting In Rows or Mounds?

You can bury potato seeds 6 - 8" deep in rows or mounds but, I've learned from my own experience and from the advise of Master Gardeners and neighbors that potatoes will definitely grow in the southwestern sandy loam but, it's best to grow in containers or beds of hay.

Gophers are notorious in southern California and they seem to be able to smell potatoes a mile away. It's easier to harvest and control water by growing in a container of some sort. You can grow 10 pounds of potatoes in a large growing bag or bucket. 

Each root will produce potatoes. The more roots, the more potatoes. 

For hardy plants; start with good soil. You can use your own dirt and add manure or water with miracle grow every now and again to keep plants fertilized. 

As the plant grows you'll need to keep covering it with dirt or hay. I recommend allowing the plant to peek out at least 4 inches before covering. As you continue to cover the plant, it will produce more roots which equal potatoes. 

Great potato growing containers include kiddie Pools, tires, store fabric bags, buckets, large planters, wood crates, bed of hay, raised bed gardens, storage tubs, burlap bags, baskets etc. 


For the maximum crop, keep your potato plants well watered particularly if planted in a container. The soil or planting material should be kept moist but not saturated particularly during the period when they are in flower and immediately thereafter. That is the time when the plant is creating the new tubers, and water is critical. 

Water early in the day if you can so that the foliage has time to dry completely before evening. Wet foliage can make your plants more susceptible to potato diseases or can damage the leaves. 

If you notice that the potato foliage is turning yellow and starts to dies back, discontinue watering. Your plants are telling you that it's about time to harvest. Slow down on the watering and allow the tubers to mature for a week or two before harvesting.

Once the vines have passed the critical watering stage while in flower, they will tolerate a certain amount of drought. This is called hardening off. According to some studies, non-irrigated potatoes are less watery and more healthful. 

It's best to water by hand and to be on a regular water schedule. Potato plants that aren't watered regularly will produce a much smaller and fewer potatoes.

Harvesting Your Potatoes

You can begin to harvest your potatoes 2 to 3-weeks after the plants have completely finished flowering. At this time you will only find small "baby" potatoes if you were to dig up a plant. 

Potatoes can be harvested any time after this, by gently loosening the soil with a spade or shovel. Using a pitch fork often ends in tragedy. I've lost many potatoes using a pitch fork. 

While harvesting, loosen the soil then reach under the plant, and removing the largest tubers, leaving the smaller ones to continue growing.

If you want late potatoes for storage, wait 2-3 weeks after the foliage has died back then carefully begin digging a foot or so outside of the row or mound. 

Remove the potatoes as you find them. (Be careful not to bruise or cut the tubers with your spade! It's easy to do) If the weather is dry, allow the potatoes to lay on the soil surface, unwashed, for 2-3 days so they can dry. If the weather is wet, or rain is expected, move the harvest to a cool, dry area (like a garage or basement) for the drying period. This drying step is necessary to mature the potato skin, which will protect the potato during storage.

If, by the end of September, the plants have not begun to die back, all of the foliage should be cut off to ensure your crop has ample time to mature before winter. Store your undamaged potatoes in a well-ventilated, dark, cool (about 40 degrees) location. Properly dried and stored potatoes should keep well for three to six months.

It's easy to harvest using a container. Simply overturn the container onto a tarp, sheet or newspaper. Pick out the potatoes for drying. Re-purpose the soil.

Popular Potato Varieties for Home Growers 

Solanum tuberosum

Yukon GoldEarly to Mid seasonLarge, yellow-fleshed variety. They are excellent baked, boiled, or mashed. These potatoes store well.
SuperiorMid seasonGood baked, boiled, or mashed. Resistant to potato scab.
Red PontiacLate maturingHigh yields, large round potatoes, easy to grow, stores well.
KennebecLate maturingExcellent producer, large potatoes, great for baking or frying, stores well.


Russet NorkotahLate maturingExcellent baking potato, excellent producer, large potatoes.
White RoseEarly to Mid seasonGood producer, good for cooking, doesn't
store well.
RussetMid seasonExcellent producer, excellent baking potato, large potatoes, excellent for storage.
NorlandEarly maturingRed skin, white flesh, excellent when boiled, fried, or mashed, stores well.

Have fun with trying different potato varieties. For fun, the next time you have an extra potato, cut it into 4 - 6 pieces. Allow to air dry overnight and plant in one of those fabric store bags using potting soil. The handles make it easy to hang or you can simply put it aside anywhere there is enough sunlight. You'll be amazed as to how many potatoes will grow in a large sized fabric bag from Walmart or your grocery store. 

Late Summer Garden

Grow Vegetables All Year Long!

It's still not too late to get your second season or later summer garden in. We're very luck here in the Southwestern states to be able to have summer vegetables all they way up to Thanksgiving. I've even grown zucchini, spaghetti squash, tomatoes and bell peppers up until January. 

Some conditions to think about for late Summer is that our temperature sometimes get hotter than July. Here in southern California, October November can still be in the 90's. 

Don't be afraid to start growing Summer vegetables in August. The heat makes the seeds germinate quicker. Be sure to keep he soil moist. The dirt should always look brown up until the plants have grown a few inches. 

If you're worried about your plants not producing fast enough there are plenty of early producing vegetable varieties available. For instance, Bantan corn produces in about 80 days, an early corn variety called Early on Deck produces cobs in 60 - 65 days. 

There's still time to grow the three sisters. I like a variety of squash, corn varieties: Ambrosia, Bantam and  Early on Deck. I usually grow more  paste tomatoes like 

Roma tomatoes instead of large beefsteak. Smaller tomatoes just taste better to me. 

If you want a bumper crop of corn, look for early varieties that produce within 50 - 90 days. I choose hybrid only because, heirloom doesn't do too well for me. The cobs always seem stunted or under grown. Burpee has some lovely sweet corn that produces within 60 days.

Burpee has a corn variety called Early and Often. You can have a harvest within 60 days. Be sure to purchase a few packs and continue to plant every week or other week for a continuous crop. 

Burpee also has a corn variety that's specifically for container gardens. It's called 'Early on Deck'. It's an early harvest 60 - 65 days.

I usually start four or five rows and ever two weeks, I'll plant another row up until Halloween. I've been pretty lucky with growing corn up until November. I also stage corn in different places on my property. That way if one patch is effected by disease or bugs, chances are the other corn patches will survive. 

Remember to keep varieties separate by space or time so that they don't cross pollinate. 

Be sure to keep your corn stalks for Autumn and Halloween decorations. Your neighbors will be envious. 


Vegetable Planting Guide  
According To Ground Temperature

Spring is just around the corner. Start your seeds indoors and in a few weeks you can transplant them outdoors. We're lucky to have long growing seasons in the Southwest and Spring comes early for us. I've already planted corn, radish, lettuce, carrot, beet, onion, raspberry plants, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, pepper and tomato seeds. All are sown directly in the ground except for the tomato and pepper. I like to start those in containers. 

It's a good idea to know related vegetable groups by family in case you have a particular vegetable variety that is diseased. Diseased plants can spread the illness among plants of the same family.  If your tomatoes come up with a disease it may be because, you planted them next to eggplants that were diseased or your broccoli passed along a fungus from your cabbage. 

Vegetables in related groups or families.

Nightshade Family  





Mel Bartholomew's Method on Square Foot Gardening

Planting According To Ground Temperature

When planting vegetables according to soil temperature, you'll have a higher ratio in determining if that seed will survive through germination.
Planting seeds is like sending a baby turtle out into the seed. There are environmental elements that will either attack the seed through cold, heat, drought, moisture, etc. If you plant your seeds in the wrong temperature for that particular seed, you're bound to kill it, stunt it's growth or create a crazy looking vegetable.

Your chances of having most of your seeds grow is by determining if your seeds are cool, warm or hot season crops. For instance, a tomato likes warm - hot soil, as to where a turnip preferres a cold soil temperature.
It's very important for a backyard gardener to plant according to soil temperature which will increase their yields by getting an earlier start on germination.

Money is often waisted when a gardener plants seeds according to their wall calendar. Just because the calendar says that it's now Spring, it doesn't necessarily mean that you should be planting your Spring vegetable garden. If the ground is either too cold or too hot, it will completely kill the seeds germination.

You can always assist soil temperatures and fooling a seed to germinate for earlier planting by either placing black fabric on the soil to help it warm up or cool it down with a canopy of shade. Indoor container gardens are always a great way to assist germination. Either way, if the ground temperature isn't at the right degree, you just waisted time, effort and a whole lot of seeds.

Here's a basic soil temperature guide that I follow with much success. Successful seed germination is determined by soil temperature, growing time, moisture, soil type.

Cold Hardy Vegetables - Cool Soil Temperature

Semi Hardy Vegetables - Cool Soil Temperature


If you don't wait to plant these vegetables after the Cold-Hardy vegetables, you're taking a chance at your seeds or seedlings dying from frost bite.

*Remember you can always get a head start on germination by planting indoors in containers. That way your plants are 2 - 4 inches in heigth and have a good root system.

Tender Vegetables - Warm / Hot Temperature 

The air and ground temperatures are beginning to warm. Here's a list of early Spring vegetables that Burpee, Gurney's, Park Seed, Johnny Seed and Harris Seed Company have all agreed are ok to plant at a ground temperature of 60F and above.

*It's important to know that these vegetables require a warm daytime temperature, prefer warm summer days and are completely intolerant to frost. This means, if planted in too cold of soil they will die or be severely damaged.  

Plant these tender vegetables after frost-free dates. These dates can be easily found Farmers Almanac, Victory Seed, (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington) Humes Seeds, (California) Victory Seeds, Burpee Seeds.

Extremely Tender Vegetables

Here's a list of common vegetables that comletely thrive during the hot summer days. Most varieties are intolerant of frost and cool spring winds. So, if you reside in zones that get late frost up until April - May, start your plants indoors and plant by Mid May.

An aqua dome, newspaper, wall of water (plant protector), tarp, cardboard box, light blanket will help protect these vegetable while they get their start in the spring.

Plant these very tender vegetables 1-2 weeks after the tender vegetables listed above.

Late Crops for Fall Harvest -  Warm / Cool
In most areas of U.S., you can get a second crop of: Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Onion, Peas, Spinach. Plant the last crops in Mid July through August to ensure a bumper crops.

I reside in southern California where we have long growing seasons and most vegetables grow all year round. The only vegetable that I have a hard time growing is lettuce varieties. They don't like heat and will either bolt quickly or turn bitter to taste.

If planting lettuce varieties in the southwest were it is often hot and arid during summer, I would recommend a canopy of shade and monitor water levels. They enjoy a consistent moisture level. If your plants are too moist, they'll surely rot. If you don't have consistent moisture, they'll bolt, flower and then go to seed. Shade is your friend when it comes to lettuce in the southwest.

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Thank you very much for your comments and questions.I will be sure to reply as soon as I can. With Regards ~Emma