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Container Gardening in Texas

Q: I am an experienced gardener, however, I am a recent Texas transplant, and now have very limited space in which to grow things. I would like some recommendations as to things that would grow well in containers, and that would do well with limited eastern light.

I am currently growing lettuce and grew tomatoes last summer, but they didn't do as well as I would have liked. I have some ground space that I would like to use, but the location is such that the drainage is really poor, and thus far, any grass seed that has been planted there hasn't grown. I would like to plant something that would cover the bare ground. I am used to growing things in zone 5.

Hardiness Zone: 8b

SKbeal from Temple, TX

A: Skbeal,

Most vegetables prefer full sun, but a few will grow in lower light conditions. You didn't say how your lettuce was doing, but if it seems to do okay, you might also give cabbage, spinach, kale, mustard greens and Swiss chard a try. Some of these may not be as vigorous, but they will taste just as good. Beets, turnips, onions and radishes will also do pretty well with less than perfect light exposure. Have you considered herbs? Tarragon, basil, chives, coriander, sage and members of the mint family are also quite adaptable to your light conditions. You could also try placing reflective material like aluminum foil, white painted surfaces (even the sides of buildings)and small, light colored stones in and around your containers to amp up what light you have.

As for a ground cover, I would recommend going with something native to the area. Natives of Texas, a nursery in Kerrville, Texas, has a good website featuring photos and explanations of flowers, groundcovers, vines, trees and shrubs that are native to your area. I believe they are about 200 miles away from you in Temple, but they may be a resource to answer some questions via email. Good luck!

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