Grow a Garden Tailored to Your Fertility Foodie Needs

The time for planting in Austin is ripe! If you plant within the next couple of weeks, you can enjoy a rich bounty throughout the summer and fall … and you know what’s even better? Several of the foods that are highly recommended by TCRA as “Fertility Foods” are incredibly easy to grow and care for, even in Austin’s intense heat. And, who knows, a little "fertility garden" project like this could maybe even provide you with multiple bounties … not all of them grown in the ground. ;)

Although the amount of setup and nurturing required to raise a super productive garden can be time consuming, some of these plants thrive without practically any assistance. The list I’ve thrown together here are of plants that are practically no-fail, even in Texas weather, along with some recommendations on how to best grow and care for them. Having these fertility foods at your fingertips will not only encourage your consumption of them on a more regular basis, but will provide you with the assurance that you are getting the freshest, most nutrient-packed food possible.Additionally, if you don’t have the space or time to deal with a full garden, all of these plants can be incredibly productive in a container.

If your acupuncturist has diagnosed you as having too much heat, you need to eat cooling foods. From the full list of cooling foods, chard and mint, both of which are very hardy and low maintenance, jump out.

  • For chard, try growing Swiss chard, a hardy plant that can withstand even the incredible heat of a Texas summer. Although in colder climes it prefers full sun, in Texas, partial or dappled shade will do. Swiss chard will last into the fall growing season, during which time it will provide another bountiful harvest. It is not susceptible to serious pests or diseases, and requires nothing more than a bit of organic insecticide if caterpillars appear.
  • Mint and peppermint are some of the easiest herbs to grow, and will literally take over your garden or container if given the chance! For this reason, it is best to plant mint in a container in order to control its fast spreading root system. If you decide to plant it in your garden, submerge a container within your garden and then plant the mint within that. In Texas, mint does best with full morning sun and afternoon shade or dappled shade. Mint grows best with semi-moist soil, so watering frequently in very small amounts encourages the best productivity.

If your acupuncturist has diagnosed you as having too much cold, you need to eat warming foods. From the full list of warming foods, chives jump out as the best options for small-scale summertime gardening, while kale provides vitamin rich crops into the winter.

  • Chives are rugged and productive perennials. They need to be thinned regularly to promote full growth, especially in hot and humid climates like ours. Because of their tubular leaves, they are less prone to wilting than more bushy plants. Chives can easily be a kitchen window herb, added as garnish to salads, omelets and soups. Onions are similarly easy to grow in Texas, and in fact, wild onions monopolize the landscape of much of East Austin, however, it’s a little too late in the season to plant them now.
  • Kale is a little more difficult to grow during a Texas summer, but if planted now, you can get a good harvest in before the high temperatures make leaves wilt. The best thing to do to insure kale that will stay productive throughout the Texas summer is to plant it in a container at least 10 inches deep; during the first months of its growth, while temperatures are mild, leave it in partial sun outside. When it starts to heat up, and the leaves start wilting, move your kale indoors to a sunny, south facing window ledge. Kale leaves turn bitter in temperatures above 80 F, so moving the plant into your cooler home allows a longer harvest of tasty leaves. Moving your kale indoors during the heat of a Texas summer also helps you avoid the bugs that devastate kale crops like cabbage worms (the little green guys). Give your kale plant a good going over with an organic pesticide spray before moving it indoors to insure none of the pests come in with you, and pick off any worms you may see.

If your acupuncturist has diagnosed you as having too much dampness try growing basil and thyme, both of which can be added to a variety of dishes, and can easily be grown in your kitchen.

  • Basil thrives in Texas in the spring and fall, but doesn’t like temperature extremes. Any hint of a coldsnap can kill it, and leaves can begin to wilt when the weather heats up. Therefore, it is definitely best to keep it as a container plant, so that you have mobility and can move it around as seasons (and inconsistent Austin weather) dictate. Place it outside when it is temperate and in a sunny window during the summer and winter, and this plant can live 8 months or more. Although basil likes moist soil, the stems can rot if it is overwatered.
  • Thyme makes a great container plant, but as long as it is given a semi-shaded protected spot outside, it can also thrive outdoors. There are many varieties of thyme, which make it a fun herb to experiment with.

Although each of these recommendations covers only a very small selection from each of our fertility foodie lists, we hope it reminds you how easy it can be to supplement your diet with recommended foods; and how easy it can be to have these foods near at hand … making it even more likely that they’ll end up in your belly.