In my previous post in this series, I detailed the things we’ve learned that have seemed to make the biggest difference in our ability to grow vegetables in this harsh climate. Included in that list, is choosing the correct varieties, specifically shorter season varieties and those that can tolerate extremes in climate.

This is a list of the vegetables that have, outside of being eaten by rodents or starved of water by drought, grown predictably well over and over again. They have all grown better and better every year as we continue to build the topsoil that was completely nonexistent when we first moved here.

We usually order seeds from the following heirloom seed companies:

Nearly all of the varieties below can be found on those websites.

Red Potatoes

  • De La Soda

Summer Squash

  • Desi
  • Tatume


  • Kazhak (musk)
  • Desert King (watermelon)

Winter Squash

  • Hopi Grey
  • Butternut


  • Grandpa Admire’s
  • Bronze Arrow

Swiss Chard

  • All Varieties

Carrots (that grow in clay soil)

  • Nantes
  • Danvers


  • Burgundy


  • Everona Large Green


  • Detroit Dark Red
  • Bulls Blood
  • Early Wonder Tall Top


  • Georgia Southern (survived spring, summer, and now in fall)


  • Red Ripper
  • California Cream
  • Tohono D’odham


  • White Globe
  • Purple Top


  • Early Jersey Wakefield

Sweet Potatoes

  • Pretty much every variety we have chosen

Mustard Greens

  • Tatsoi for Fall/Winter (hardy down to 15 degrees F)

Herbs of all kinds


Fava Beans

You’ll notice things like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are not on this list. Some years these have worked okay, other years not at all. For that reason, they are not something we focus as much on, though we do like these vegetables very much.

Happy growing!


In one of my favorite gardening books, The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe, emphasis is put on staple calorie crops that produce in the worst conditions. That concept has stayed with me these past few years as we’ve chosen what seeds (or slips) to fill what spaces.


We have planted sweet potatoes every summer since we’ve lived in Texas and every year, save last year, they have grown well despite heat and bugs and drought. Last year the rodent population was just too much for them.

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So this year we grew sweet potatoes in a large bed in the chicken field. We got some pretty consistent rain towards the end of summer and the leaves grew lush and delicious. I also appreciate crops with dual purposes – beets, turnips, carrots, and sweet potatoes all have edible roots and greens.

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Harvesting root crops is one of those things we look forward to because for the children, it’s a treasure hunt. We invited a dear friend and neighbor who came and helped us pull back the vines and loosen the soil before watching the four oldest children hunt for sweet potatoes.



I don’t know how many times I heard gasps and then “Look, Ma!“.img_9451-2

When all was said and done, one third of the chicken field lay bare, awaiting the next day’s planting of garlic. We filled the wheelbarrow and then found a few more armfuls when the garlic went in the ground. Boxes now sit on shelves curing next to the wood stove.


When I think back to the little bitty slips that went into the ground and the abundance that sprang forth, it is nothing short of a miracle. Sweet potatoes are a wonderful crop in that they provide us with greens, even in the heat of summer, they generally cure over just fine even if they split before harvesting, and they store tremendously well without any outside input.

Truly these sweet gems, and the process of growing them, are a gift from the Lord.