Top Crops: Southwest Region

The top crops in the Southwest region span three growing seasons.
By Barbara Pleasant
April/May 2009
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The Southwest gardening region.

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The Southwest region’s list of 10 top crops looks pretty mainstream, but because hot, dry summers split the season in two, many gardeners grow three gardens each year: fast-growing cool-season crops for spring, heat-tolerant veggies for summer, and a feast of fine edibles for fall.

In your garden, this might play out as lettuce, potatoes, and onions in spring; tomatoes, beans, and peppers in summer; and everything from bulb fennel to mizuna (a popular Asian mustard) in the fall. Tart tomatillos become a versatile vegetable in the hands of good Southwestern cooks (authentic salsa verde is impossible without roasted tomatillos).

This fast-growing tomato relative earned strong ratings from gardeners in this region, and Modesto, CA, gardener Sandra Burnette says they’re not as invasive as tomatoes, “which will take over the entire garden if left to themselves,” she says.

Edamame (edible green soybean) is a rising star in Southwest gardens, too. Burnette has tried several varieties, and says she has enjoyed them all.

Top 10

  1. Potato
  2. Garlic
  3. Cherry tomato
  4. Bulb onion
  5. Slicing tomato
  6. Carrot
  7. Summer squash
  8. Snow/snap pea
  9. Paste tomato
  10. Sweet pepper

Other Highly Rated Crops

Cabbage family: Kale, kohlrabi

Cucumber family: Cucumber, pumpkin, winter squash

Leafy greens: Arugula, chard, Chinese cabbage, mâche, pac choi, spinach

Legumes: Dry soup bean, edamame, fava bean, snap bean (all types), snow/snap and shell pea, Southern pea

Root crops: Beet, radish, shallot, sunchoke, sweet potato

Tomato family: Eggplant, hot pepper, tomatillo

Miscellaneous: Bulb fennel, leek, okra, rhubarb, scallion

Read The Best Crops for Your Garden to find top crops for other U.S. gardening regions.

Contributing editor Barbara Pleasant gardens in southwest Virginia, where she grows vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers and a few lucky chickens. Contact Barbara by visiting her website or finding her on .

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