5 Plants to Plant

3 huge sweet potatoes, a few handfuls of fingerling and baby potatoes, 1 overly ripe acorn squash and 3 sprouting onions.

That’s what I have left of the summer garden haul. Well, that and a whole rack of canned goods.

It is now time to start all over again.

With only 133 square feet, or 0.003 of an acre, I have to be pretty discriminating with what I plant. There’s not a whole lot of room, literally, for experimentation. So even though I’d love to try growing rice or cotton. I can’t. Well I could, but then I wouldn’t have room for carrots would which make me angry, I’d turn aggressive and perhaps develop a twitch. More specifically, another twitch.

I think I did fairly well with what I planted last year and will probably plant mostly the same stuff, but there were a few things that stood out as the bell of the haul.

So if you too only have 0.003 of an acre, or even less, or even more … these are my 5 top picks for your vegetable garden including the varieties I’ll be using. (when you order seeds online or get them from reputable seed stores you get to pick your actual variety as opposed to when you buy your seeds by the cash in a grocery store where you have the choice between “carrot” or “carrot”.




If you’re looking for some, Cubits carries the Dinosaur Kale  and the Swiss Chard that I love so much (and this from someone who doesn’t really like Kale) and Linda Crago from Tree and Twig farms has a HUGE stock of tomato seeds. Which are now all sold out. I know. Can you believe it?

The early gardener gets the seed, those who wait, just have weeds.

Or crap seeds they bought at the grocery store check out next to the gum.




  1. Marti says:

    So there’s a hot rumor on the internet that you can just replant an celery stump… or some such plant. Did you want to try that and let us know how it worked? You know… since you’ve now become a rabid celery-growing fiend and all.

    Where does the Fella’s father come down on vegetables? Does he have a “true vegetable” list?

  2. Karen says:

    You can replant the celery stump. You sit it in water and let it root and a little celery leaf will grow. How well it grows into an entire plant I’m not sure. Celery is a biennial. So if you leave it in your garden and it survives the winter it will start to grow again, but the plant that grows isn’t for eating. It’s in the second year that the celery (radishes do the same) grows its seeds. Did you never wonder where radish or celery seeds came from? That’s where they come from. From their biennialness. ~ karen!

  3. Rebecca P says:

    Can you recommend some good places to order seeds? Also, when should we have everything ordered by? We are going to try a few raised beds this year, and have absolutely no idea what we’re doing! I didn’t know grocery store seeds were bad until 30 seconds ago, while reading your post! Haha! This is going to be very interesting….

  4. JBB says:

    I think that happened to us, too. The kids are 8, 6, 4, 2…Oh dear Lord, no!

  5. arlene says:

    Really?— No lettuce in your top 5? I had the crazy notion that my little garden should bring me the makings of a fresh salad made with lettuce — and while I am asking ~~
    Really? No Beans?
    Thanks for the heads up — on seed purchasing!

  6. Beckie says:

    Baker Creek has a fabulous selection of heirloom varieties

    they can be found at http://www.rareseeds.com

  7. Amanda says:

    We’re going to give the square foot garden thing a shot this year…we don’t have much space either. (Or energy, frankly)
    Can’t wait to try these – and see how your front yard garden turns out this year!

  8. Sara says:

    Do you plant celery seeds, or is it better to buy small plants at the nursery? If seeds, do you start them in the house earlier? Love this blog!

  9. Langela says:

    An idea for those who have less growing space but want a paste-type tomato is to plant ‘Oxheart’. It’s an heirloom and mine were so prolific this past year that I will never have a garden without them. They also got HUGE and were mostly meat. Here is one of the many posts I did on them. It shows the size and the inside meat.


  10. Langela says:

    Btw, if I remember correctly, the Oxheart is a determinate or semi-determinate, so it won’t get too tall. Here is a link to a photo when they were just starting. They reached about 6 foot tall total.


  11. Karen says:

    HI Rebecca – It’s not that the grocery store seeds are bad … they’ll grow … they just don’t have any variety and you have no idea what you’re getting. In Canada I order many of my seeds from Cubits. (If you click on her button on the righthand side bar you’ll get directed to her Etsy site) I also use seeds from some local suppliers who don’t ship to the States.) If you Google heirloom seeds you’ll find several companies in the States that carries them and mails them out. You should oder them NOW! A lot of seeds will already be sold out believe it or not. ~ karen

  12. Karen says:

    Arleen – This isn’t the whole list of my garden, it’s the top 5 things that produce the best and were most enjoyable for me. There will be beans and lettuces and all sorts of other things too. ~ karen!

  13. Karen says:

    Hi Sara – Yes you can plant celery from seed indoors. Last year I bought them on a whim, so I bought tiny plants and they worked out great. I’ll probably buy the plants again this year. I only have room to start so many seeds in my house and I’m not sure I have room for celery. ~ karen!

  14. Ann says:

    No, the celery won’t grow into a full sized “celery” but instead just leaves that can be cut and thrown into your cooking. And that is fine, but you don’t get that much.

    My top 5 would be:

    fortex green beans-fortex being a variety of pole beans that give the best, biggest, not stringy beans ever

    I always try one new thing each year. Last year it was turnips and we love pulling them small and eating them sliced up raw. This year it will be kholrabi which we plan on eating the same way. This fall I want to put in sunchokes. They are similar to eat to potatoes but are an official paleo food so I am wanting to give it a shot. But they only ship them for planting in the fall, darn.

    I am anxiously waiting for real planting season to start! It is getting close here in southern Tennessee

  15. Dee says:

    If you add one tomato to your list this year, I would vote for Black Krim. They were outstanding! Made great sandwiches.

  16. Barbie says:

    OH CRAP! I hope I haven’t waited to looooong!! We wanted to buy our seeds organic or heirloom this year. I have no idea “where to buy” my tomato plants from here! (I think it is too late to do them from seeds now isn’t it?) I was going to buy from cubits for stuff, but I also need potatoes which I also don’t know where to get good ones now either! YIKES!

  17. Gardening season seems so far away! We have four foot drifts in the yard and deeper where the plow has pushed it! Nice to see pics of garden produce! Cheers.

  18. Karen says:

    Barbie – I can’t remember where you are, but here, tomatoes get started 4-6 weeks prior to when you can plant them out. Potatoes are often sold at farm supply stores. I also got potatoes from my local garden centre last year and they were great. ~ karen!

  19. Cynna says:

    Great selection, but what about San Marzano tomatoes? The ultimate sauce tomato. This is my favorite seed source:

  20. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    How wonderful it will be to taste fresh picked veggies again..And a big slice of tomato on my burger..and sweet little cherry tomatoes in my salad..Can hardly wait Karen!

  21. Karen says:

    Cynna – I actually spoke with Linda Crago from Tree and Twig farms about paste tomatoes. She grows … something like 600 varieties of heirloom tomatoes or something ridiculous like that. She grows tomatoes for a living and said San Marzano are actually not the best paste tomato. They’re just the most well known! The 2 varieties she recommended are apparently more difficult to find, but much better. ~ karen!

  22. Brie says:

    JBB- This made me snort!! HA!

  23. Cynna says:

    The original San Marzanos come from the area near Mt. Vesuvius. It’s the volcanic ash that gave (gives)them the great flavor. So much depends on the source of the seeds. It’s the soil that tends to dictate how fruits and vegetables will taste.

  24. Susan R says:

    I’m in the California. I order from Annie’s Heirloom Seeds in MI and Seeds of Change. They have all of the varieties that Karen mentioned, and have organic seeds too. Annie’s is run by a young couple. They have a fun newsletter and are really gracious about answering email questions.

    The best tomatoes I planted were Black Krim, pineapple, yellow pear and Paul Robeson. I think it’s too cold in Canada for pineapple tomatoes.

    Karen, you mentioned carrots in several posts. What varieties did you plant? I did some heirloom purple and red, but no joy. But the Chioggia and bull’s blood beets were delicious!

    I’m going to try heirloom potatoes this fall. So excited. I found three metal crib box springs at a barn sale. Set upright and attached at the corners to make a triangular bin, they’ll be perfect for growing layers of potatoes!

  25. Susan R says:

    Oye! Sorry. You know, “the California”. Damn autocorrect!

  26. BarbWire says:

    Great info. Thanks! And I already bought some of the Dinosaur Kale seeds from Cubits thanks to another article you wrote about a week ago. They shipped Monday so I am anxiously stalking the mailman looking for my seeds! Looking forward to some more articles like this and maybe some kale recipes? I know nothing about kale. And I might try to grow some celery. Hubby hates it, celery is his kryptonite but I love it. And so does our bunny.

  27. Deb says:

    Dearest Karen, I LOVE you, I truly do. Your post MAKES my morning every single time. I gaze out my window today looking at mounds of white thinking, she’s a f—– lunatic!!! Buying seeds??? We can’t even see the soil! Then I read JBB’s comment and spew my coffee half way across the house. On line baby shower perhaps…where do we send the booties?

  28. Barbie says:

    Thanks Karen. Yes, we do a local farm supply “Big R” for potatoes and onion sets, and a couple others but I was hoping to buy “organic” or Heirloom this year for everything. Which is why I was counting on Cubits or something else. I am in Spokane WA. So do you mean I could plant “seeds” 4 to 6 wks prior to in the ground outside? In pots or something? If so HURRAY!!!

  29. Nobody commented on your sneaky play on words: Belle of the Haul. Beautiful.

  30. Karen says:

    Hah! Understandable. The thing is, if you plan on starting your plants yourself, now is the time to start! Yep. It’s that time already. – karen!

  31. allyson says:

    So proud…..Cubits order already received. Just need to start the seedlings (waiting for perfect timing). I got bull’s blood beets and swiss chard – i think those are the only overlaps. Mmmm, need spring.

  32. Susan R says:

    Barbie, Karen had a really great post on starting seeds. Look in the Outdoor category. You should start them inside, even where it’s warm. It can get too cold at night for them until they get some growth going. I actually start mine in those little peat pos set in ice cube trays, then transfer the whole peat pod to a small peat pot. Once they are about 5-6 inches tall, I plant the peat pot outside in the garden. I get all that stuff on Amazon, but WalMart, Home Depot, Lowe’s etc, all carry them.

  33. Karen says:

    Thank you for noticing Susan. 🙂 ~ karen!

  34. Karen says:

    Yup. Susan’s right. Here’s the seed starting post. https://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/how-to-grow-vegetables-from-seed/ Then you need to learn how to harden off the seedlings so you can plant them outside … https://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/how-to-harden-off-vegetable-plants-front-yard-garden-update/ Have fun! ~ karen

  35. Barbie says:

    Thank you so much Karen….and Susan. 🙂

  36. Laura says:

    Yay! I already have four of the fab five in the garden coming up: swiss chard, beets, potatoes and some volunteer tomatoes from last year that have sprouted. I live in SoCal so we have a year round growing season. Last year my favorite thing was my bell peppers, they were so prolific and pretty. This is my first year doing potatoes and I am so excited to dig them up I can hardly stand it! My daughter has been begging to grow celery but I’ve heard it was really hard to grow so I’ve been putting it off. Maybe I can give it a try.

  37. Karen says:

    Hi Laura – I don’t know about Southern California, but in Southern Ontario celery was a snap to grow. Stick it in the ground and ignore it. You’ll love, LOVE growing potatoes. ~ karen

  38. susan says:

    I know I will grwo some chocolate cherry tomatoes. The sweetest cherry tomato I have ever had! I also like Trail of Tears pole beans – they can be used as string beans, or left for the seeds to develop into black beans (legume type).

    Can’t wait! Gonna get my little seed starting trays out this weekend!

    Do you ever start leeks, Karen? If so, any tips?

  39. Lisa says:

    You introduced me to Cubit’s last year and I put in another order this year. Seeds received and started weeks ago! I had the itch back in early February and started some experiments pretty early. Can’t wait to follow along with your garden too!

  40. Marti says:

    So… no rhubarb? Does it not grow up there in the Northlands?

  41. Karen says:

    Rhubarb is a perennial. No need to plant. Comes up everyyyyy year. – k!

  42. Marti says:

    Could you research how it does as a houseplant? Please find me a way to get a pie plant into my living room, please-please?

  43. Karen says:

    Um. Plant it. In a cup of milk. With sliced onions in it. And a snail. And leave it on the counter for 7 months. ~ karen!

  44. Marti says:

    I’m reasonably certain I could do all of that and get the rhubarb to grow as a houseplant faster than the app would cut my tortilla chip habit. 😛

  45. Pam'a says:

    I am too damned lazy and don’t have enough room to plant all those seeds. If you are too, you might want to check around your area for community gardeners, a county extension office, gardening clubs, etc. Many of them offer heirloom seedlings right around planting time. 🙂

  46. Deborah says:

    Bonus about living in the Great White North is that Rhubarb LOVES the climate here, it will not grow in the hot southern states.

  47. Bonnie says:

    Thanks for the planting advice, but I wonder if some of those varieties are best grown in the chilly north. Celery, for example, has such a long growing season, that it is best grown in a cool climate. I tried to grow celery one year, and it was thin and bitter. The National Gardening Association advises,”Celery has a reputation for being a fussy, hard-to-grow vegetable.” And, in warm climates, carrots are best grown fall through winter. I found this out by my failures.
    So, I think we had better check on which plants grow best in our region!

  48. Karen says:

    Bonnie – That’s odd about the celery because it was ready to pick by the end of July or beginning of August. I planted it around June 1st. So it was in the heat of summer that it grew. Strange. I believe you … but strange. ~ karen!

  49. Patti says:

    This is fantastic to know!
    So, the seed it the first ‘ennial’, which you get after planting the stump, and then you turn around and plant the seed and get celery?

    What I mean is: I can just go get seeds and plant celery and be on my way and not have to wait for ‘ennials’, right? Because I have not tried this, and I am sooo stoked to do it because EW – limp yucky celery is not fun in my crisper!

    Also – add to your list: zucchini, IF you love zucchini. I just could not get over how awesome they are fresh from the garden. I eat a lot of zucchini for some reason, and they’re so easy to grow!

  50. Patti says:

    I grew potatoes last year and it didn’t really work out – I have to try this again! I’ll hunt your post! And fingerlings it is!

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