questionswhat should i grow in my small city backyard?

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Tomatoes. What ever kind works for your area. Lettuces are always easy. Keep up with the herbs. That's always smart. I generally pick what ever is the most expensive to buy, and grow that if I can. Grow what you eat. And stay away from my door step with that huge bag of zucchini!

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I agree with @klutzyruth: tomatoes. I would like to add jalapenos and onions.

I like eating peas and green beans raw, but they require more work to harvest and serve.

I did not check your area for growth compatibility.

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@klutzyruth & @caffeine_dude: I third the tomatoes idea. Last year I ended up doing really well with tomatoes in our small 6x4ft garden. By July/August I had some tomatoes that were the size of softballs. Just make sure you get proper support for them! I also had a variety of beans that did really well. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Onions all turned out too. Just make sure that you use good pest control, earwigs were a problem for my garden last year due to the compost in the soil we used. I just used the inverted soda/pop bottle with sugar inside and caught about 100 earwigs a night for a week and then my problem was gone.

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@eraten: Can you elaborate on that earwig thing? I hate those little buggers and they invade my house every year, especially the bathrooms.

@lonelypond - Tomatoes, I wish I had something more original for you, but you will not be sorry if you go with tomatoes.

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@hot72chev: Of course I can. But this website can explain better. The only difference is I buried mine in the soil just leaving the about an inch exposed on the top so that the earwigs were able to climb in easily. You can also jus tip it on its side and it is just as effective. Earwigs climb in, but they can't climb out. It also attracts a whole slew of pests. A small population of earwigs is beneficial, they kill smaller pests; but when you have a large amount, they begin feeding on other things.

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You can grow cucumbers and train them to go up a trellis. Lettuces are crazy easy to grow. Radishes and scallions too.

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I don't know the layout of your space or the sunlight available, but I suggest that you look into container gardening, if necessary (particularly good for herbs), and square foot gardening for the rest. I had a very small backyard for years but grew tons of great veggies in a raised bed garden following Mel Bartholomew's directions. I actually canned 78 jars of pickles from only a few vines one year! Lots of benefits to that type of garden, even if you have more space.

Personally, the must-have-fresh veggies are tomatoes and bell peppers. If melons do well in your area, try cantaloupes. Intersperse it all with marigolds (they repel a lot of insects) and other flowers to make it all even prettier. Train everything you can up trellises to save even more space. Even melon vines can be trained up a trellis, you just have to provide some extra support for the melons themselves.

Have fun!

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I have very good luck with bell, jalapeno and chili peppers. They are very easy to grow.

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@no1: I am pretty sure that was the intention of the Mary Jane comment by dw1771.

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I agree with the tomato comments, planting marigolds around them is supposed to help with pests. I would also recommend carrots and rhubarb(very easy to grow but spreads, you'll have plenty to give your friends & comes back every year). Peas and green beans are easy to string up as well. Maybe squash?

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Flowers or weeds since city pollution makes anything grown outside of questionable edibility.

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So tomatoes is the consensus, led by @klutzyruth, whose doorstep I have been warned away from. Have been considering cherry tomatoes. I remember tomatoes being a pain the one summer my dad tried them when I was a kid, but he was never very ept at that sort of thing.

I like the lettuces idea and variety peppers. We have a farmer we get a lot of our produce from at the local farmer's market so I've been trying to think of what he runs out of/doesn't carry enough of. Container gardening sounds like something I need to read about this year and consider for next. Starting a window box with herbs is on my list, which would be a good start to that research.

Thanks for the suggestions! They're helping me run out of reasons not to give gardening another go.

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Don't forget the mint in you herb selection !
Peppermint and spearmint are great for keeping ants away. Plant them along the house if they like to sneak in and it will stop them from entering. You can also crush the leaves and put them in your cupboard to discourage critters.
The best part, imho, is to add a fresh sprig to your iced tea. It can grow a little crazy ( spreads by roots shooting out all over the place, must keep an eye on it or it will take over.

Catnip is in the mint family too. Some people make tea from it. Suppose to be good for digestion.
Personally, I don't want to make tea out of something that has cat spit on it. Your cat(s) will love you and since they now have their own greens they will leave the rest of yours alone. In most cases. Maybe.

Oregano grows great. It is not suppose to winter over, but it does. Basil, does not. Lemon basil wonderful for fish ,chicken and fresh salad. Highly recommend adding that to your herb selection.

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Get some self-watering containers, grow whatever you like - especially 'special' varieties that may be hardto find in 'monovariety' groceries. examples: Tomatoes, I like Black Krim, Zebra tomatoes, 'jellybean' cherry tomatoes ; Peppers, check pricing in the store and plant the 'expensive' stuff, poblanos are good example ; plant the following from seed (they transplant poorly); peas, beans, cucumbers (trellis), summer/winter squash, lettuce, herbs. Containers save the trouble of ripping up part of your lawn and eliminate many pests (especially slugs and insects that live by roots or crawl up stem) and if planting peppers, I like to include habernos just because rabbits will sample them then avoid ALL peppers (even the leaves are 'spicy').