My husband and I started our first raised garden  in April. We already have a couple of flower beds in the front yard, but we wanted a garden that could produce something we would actually be able to eat. The idea of getting an edible benefit from maintaining a small spot of soil sounded fun. In short, we wanted to grow plants with some extra value to us. Here are some ideas for plants you may want to add to your garden to get that extra benefit too.
Tomatoes were the first plant I thought about for our new garden. I love them and they consistently are sold at our grocery store for more than $2 a pound, which annoys the snot out of me. A couple of $5 tomato plants have the ability to produce more than 20 tomatoes each throughout the season. Since that sounded about right for my husband and me, we planted two of them in our garden.
Remember when planting tomatoes to space the plants at least 2 feet apart to give them room to grow. Also keep in mind some system to keep away pests. Squirrels or other rodents have been chomping away at my green tomatoes and moth balls are not working for me. I believe we will have to try wire mesh next.
Basil was our next choice since we do use so much of it. Basil plants are also very hardy which is necessary for beginner gardeners like us. Our two plants have grown to be about 2 ½ feet tall in a matter of a couple of months and produce more than enough basil leaves for our marinara sauces and olive oil rubs. They only cost about $2 each as seedlings and we’ve already saved $5 since we have not needed to buy a new package of dried basil leaves. My next step will be to dry some leaves out for our pantry during the winter.
My husband’s choice for the garden was cilantro. A couple of plants cost us $5 total and he likes adding it to all sorts of things including his rice. He was able to cut some off multiple times, but we did not know that cilantro blooms into coriander if you don’t cut off the buds. So now we have 2 huge coriander plants, but we don’t use coriander in our cooking much. Oops. Next year we will know better and will keep the cilantro maintained properly. Thanks to our mild Houston, Texas winters, we have a shot at not losing our herbs permanently over December and January.
Our last raised garden  plant is chives. I personally do not like them much since I do not like raw onion flavors of any sort, but my husband uses chives almost as much as basil. We bought three chive seedlings for $5 total and have already harvested and used more than $10 worth in 2 months. It goes on baked potatoes, salads, soups, and even has been gifted to others. This will definitely be a plant we keep around in years to come.
What other valuable plants would you suggest? I have heard that mint is a great option – any others?