Grow Your Own: Top 10 US Cities for Home Gardeners

in Gardening on by
Older woman enjoys the simple pleasure of home gardening.

Nothing is more mouthwatering than fruits and vegetables picked at the peak of their ripeness. With their alluring aromas, scintillating colors, and intense flavors, it’s hard to believe these treasures are natural phenomena.

Farmers’ markets are the closest many of us think we can come to growing our own, but all it actually takes is a little ingenuity, a lot of patience, good soil, and relatively steady temperatures. Whether you plant your vegetables in a small plot of communal gardening space or just use containers inside your apartment, the experience of eating a tomato fresh from the vine is well worth the care it takes to make your home garden thrive.

It’s worth the effort to try to grow your favorite produce wherever you live, but if you’ve really got a green thumb, you might just consider moving to one of these gardening-friendly cities:

Wilmington, NC

Few cities can boast a prevailing average temperature of 64 degrees year round, but Wilmington is one of them. Here, you can plant cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, summer squash, and tomatoes in the middle of April and enjoy the bounty all summer long. When those plants start to yield their final crops for the season, start cultivating heartier plants like chard, kale, and lettuce for a plethora of fresh greens to feast on during fall and winter.

Tampa, FL

Sweltering heat and humidity are often synonymous with Tampa, but did you know the city also has a surprisingly bountiful gardening season later in the year? Yes, from October to April, temperatures here are markedly decreased and ideal for vegetable gardening. Use professional-grade seed trays to start broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and peppers indoors and let them grow strong near a sunny window sill. When the temperatures are in the mid-70s and the humidity’s high, transfer your plants to to an outdoor garden to really watch them flourish.

Amarillo, TX

Amarillo is blessed with good soil and weather for growing both flowers and vegetables. When planted in April, annuals like petunias, verbenas, geraniums, marigolds, and zinnias produce a rainbow of colors for the whole summer. Vegetables including tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, peppers, collards, and kale thrive best here when started indoors and transplanted outside after the last frost (typically around Memorial Day, when the soil is averaging around 60 degrees).

Topeka, KS

Corn is usually the first produce that comes to mind when you think of Kansas, but the majority of gardens there are actually dedicated to growing blackberries, grapes, raspberries, and strawberries, all of which thrive in the cool temperatures. They also all need lots of space for their vines to thrive and meander, so you’ll need a sizable garden bed to grow them in. If you prefer vegetables, try your hand at growing cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumber, rhubarb, and radishes. Just remember that Kansas is also known for unexpected freezes, so keep your seedlings protected inside until they’re hearty enough to withstand abrupt temperature changes.

West Palm Beach, FL

Gardeners who like to get a jump on the growing season love the weather in West Palm Beach. Since the last frost in the city typically occurs in early March, its easy to have your transplants ready to go for a long growing season that extends into the fall months. Celery, herbs, peppers, Swiss chard, tomatoes, and watermelon all thrive in climates like this, where things are always on the warmer side.

Birmingham, AL

Birmingham temperatures vary a lot, so it’s sometimes April before the ground thaws and becomes suitable for planting. Start by setting your cabbage, lettuce, onions, and potatoes, then, as the temperatures rise in early May, add beans, corn, peas, peppers, and tomatoes to your garden. Keep an eye out for sporadic freezes and protect your plants accordingly.

Evansville, IN

Gardening might seem challenging here since the normal average temperature in Evansville lingers around 57 degrees, but you’ll find it’s well worth your while. Harsh, freezing weather often lasts late into the spring, so you can’t safely plant any flowers or vegetables until late May. For best results, use a raised garden bed with a removable plastic protective sheet to protect your plants when the temperature dips below average. Start beans, beets, carrots, and corn as seedlings, and use transplants for cucumbers, okra, tomatoes, and melons.

Orlando, FL

Quaint shot of downtown Orlando, Florida.

Gardening in the South can be challenging due to highly fluctuating temperatures and humidity levels, but it can also be a great success if you stagger your plantings. Summer is the best season to cultivate herbs, artichokes, cherry tomatoes, okra, peas, and sweet potatoes. As those crops start to decline, start a new garden in the fall with carrots, onions, radishes, spinach, strawberries, and turnips.

Columbia, SC

Columbia is often known as a gardener’s paradise because of its average annual temperature of 65 degrees. The vegetables that grow best here include asparagus, cucumbers, leeks, onions, peppers, rhubarb, shallots, and squash, but you’re sure to find success with a ton of other varieties.

Knoxville, TN

The top city for gardening in the US is Knoxville. Since the temperatures here often soar into triple digits, many gardeners opt for container gardening for more control and less water consumption. Favorite summer crops include beets, bell peppers, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, leeks, tomatoes, and a variety of fresh herbs. Plant sweet potatoes in late May for those upcoming holidays in the fall and winter, and stay on top of the watering to ensure success.

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