Garden Planning – 2023 Edition

Stacey Sansom’s Garden Adventure

Stacey Sansom’s Garden Adventure | Garden Planning 2023

I may not be an expert gardener, not even very experienced, but I know enough at this point to know and understand that a minimal amount of PLANNING is required for optimal success when it comes to gardens in Texas. I am certain the need for planning is universal. While Texas is considered “different” for gardening because of our harsh extremes, especially on the hot end, the same unpredictability is common around the world. There are some things you cannot control, but having a good plan in place helps balance those things. That is where garden planning comes in big time for us Texas gardeners.

Reflection on the 2022 Garden

I had high hopes for the garden in 2022. I had envisioned a year with the plentiful bounty that would yield ample to eat and some to can for eating later. That is not what happened!

The plan was to plan out everything from seed starting to placement in the garden. I set in motion things to start seeds using the “winter sowing” method. A plan of succession planting was started so we would have a continuous flow of vegetables from spring to fall. I thought I was off to a good start…


The best-laid garden planning falls apart.

I got sick with COVID at the end of January and the fatigue and brain fog would last months. I had a very stressful winter semester at BYU-Idaho which yielded less gardening time to prep for spring planting.

My winter sowing attempts failed. I got very few sprouts in the jugs. I ended up buying most plants to transplant into the garden. Even direct sowing efforts failed more than not.

There was a big hard freeze and then a late freeze. Winter just would not let go. Then the heat arrived – not unexpected, it happens every year. This year the 100°F temperatures started a month earlier than normal and would not stop. Then the rains stopped falling! A severe drought would leave the 39,000-acre Lake Lewisville 5 feet below normal levels and leave us with strict outdoor watering restrictions. It was almost impossible to keep up with the plants’ needs to combat the high heat with the watering restrictions.

Then the rains started and the temperatures fell too.

It was just one bad year for gardening although I gave it my hardest and honest effort, but as bad as it was, I was not willing to give up until the end…when my back gave out, the migraine ran into month number 3, and the summer fatigue caught up with me. The disease and pests caught up with the plants. Even the rats took over the garden.

And on and on and on…So the plan for this year starts with hope and a prayer that conditions will be more conducive to success.

And now to start the plan…It all starts somewhere.

Pollinators (aka Flowering Plants) for 2023 Garden Planning

One thing that I was determined to do in 2022 was to make the front flowerbeds look good, at least get them filled in with pretty color and growth instead of weeds and struggling plants. That was a success! Perfect? Not at all! Better. I will definitely incorporate more North Texas Natives in the landscaping.

The pollinators made their way to my house- front and back. Putting the pollinator bed right in the middle of the garden was popular and increased pollination overall in the garden. That was a successful attempt even if I did lose many flowering plants early on to the heat and drought.

These are the varieties I plan on incorporating into the beds this year. This will include some greenery filler plants for contrast and texture, as well as to act as living mulch in the beds. These lists are by no means all-inclusive, just my brainstorming to get the planning process started.

Front Flowerbeds

  • Tickseed or Coreopsis (Texas Native)
  • Blackfoot Daisies (Texas Native)
  • Marigolds (Variety)
  • Zinnias (Variety)
  • Ornamental Sweet Potato Vines
  • Columbine (Texas Native)
  • Guara (Texas Native)
  • Pentas

Hanging Baskets

  • Millions of Bells
  • Vincas
  • Petunias
  • False African Hostas

Pollinator Bed

  • Zinnias (Variety)
  • Marigolds (Variety)
  • Columbine
  • Daisies (Variety)
  • Purple Basil
  • Lavender

Large Porch Planter

  • Dianthus
  • Millions of Bells
  • Ornamental Sweet Potato Vines (maybe)
  • Sweet Marjoram
  • Pentas

Front Tree Circle

  • Ornamental Sweet Potato Vines
  • Tickseed or Coreopsis (Texas Native)
  • Bulb flowers (maybe)

Back Tree Circle

  • Ornamental Sweet Potato Vines
  • Tickseed or Coreopsis (Texas Native)
  • Zinnias (Variety)
  • Marigolds (Variety)

Please note again that this list is not all-inclusive. It also does not necessarily include the existing plants in the designated locations.

Edibles (aka Fruits and Vegetables) for 2023 Garden Planning

This edibles list might seem a bit excessive considering just how small my garden area is. The reality is that this is not a lot once you consider that I will only plant 1-2 for each variety.

For example, I won’t plant multiples of each of the colored bell peppers. Rather, I will plant 1 of each color and call it good enough. This does mean that I have to be more specific when purchasing seeds or starter plants because I do want the different colors and to maximize success in getting those, a rainbow or variety seed pack will not work for me.


  • Basil – Lettuce Leaf
  • Basil – Genovese
  • Basil – Sweet
  • Basil – Purple
  • Sage – Garden
  • Oregano – Italian
  • Thyme – German
  • Thyme – English
  • Lavender
  • Tarragon (French)
  • Mexican Tarragon

Leafy Green and Cole Crops

  • Imperial Broccoli
  • Sun King Hybrid Broccoli
  • Calabrese Broccoli
  • Baby Bok Choy
  • Cutting Celery
  • Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach
  • Buttercrunch Lettuce


  • Mammoth Jalapeño
  • Pimiento
  • Sweet Banana
  • Bell – Red
  • Bell – Yellow
  • Bell – Green
  • Bell – Orange

Tomatoes & Tomatillos

  • Heat Tolerant Tomatoes (Dwarf, bush determinant varieties preferred)
  • Ox-Heart Tomatoes
  • Yellow Tomatoes
  • White Tomatoes
  • Orange Tomatoes
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Green Tomatillos

Sweet Fruits

  • Strawberries (Variety)
  • Watermelon


  • Asparagus Beans
  • Red Chinese Noodle Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Sweet Peas

Squash & Cucumbers

  • Zucchini – Round de Nice
  • Spaghetti Squash – Montreaux
  • Cucumber – Pickling
  • Cucumber – Burpless

Root Vegetables

  • Norkotah Russet Potatoes
  • Norland Red Potatoes
  • Russet – store purchased
  • Rainbow Mix Carrots
  • Sweet Danvers Carrots
  • Radishes

Please note, this list is not all-inclusive. I also have not decided on specific varieties for all of these. Again, this is my brainstorming so that I can make sure I incorporate a little bit of everything. This is also just the start of the process.

Looking Forward

It is hard to believe that the garden planning is already starting for 2023 as here in North Texas we do not hit our coldest months until January and February. We will even get hard freezes into March. Our last average frost for 2023 is predicted to be March 21st, but it is just an average.

For those that think that gardening in Texas is hard, trust me when I say, “I understand.” However, trust me when I say, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.” My dad taught me to keep trying. He assured me that gardening anywhere, but especially here in Texas, is a big experiment. So do not give up too easily. Start small and work up. One plant of Basil in a pot on the porch makes you more self-sustained than none.

This week, my goal is to get my plan together. That involves getting plants visually placed in the Planter App. I am also trying the online SeedTime planner for scheduling this year. We will see how that goes as there is a lot of work involved in putting in the plants.

I also want to get all the soil in my beds raised at least 3-4 inches this week. I might actually start one bed at a time and raise them each the necessary amount. This is 6-9 inches. Drought can have a big impact on your soil, especially the depth and nutrients.

Why so early? Because it will be enough to offset my current soil quality and I want that in place by the time I pull my soil samples for soil testing. My goal is to get that done and off to Texas A&M Agrilife Extension by February 1st so that I can have my amendments in place and ready to go by the time planting should start – no later than April 1st.

Follow the garden adventure here

For the past couple of years, I have put everything up on Facebook to share the garden adventure. It is time-consuming to type all those photo captions on a phone where all the pictures are. I also feel that I cannot elaborate on some things. I want this to be more of a journaling process to help track things as well, thus you will find the primary focus in 2023 here on this blog. Each post will be tagged “Garden Adventure” so that they are easy to find.

Will I still post on Facebook? You bet I will, but the depth of it all will be here. I had planned on doing that a couple of years ago and just got lazy and settled for the easy method of sharing especially since so many people have told me how much they have enjoyed watching my experiences. The bottom line is that this will be more in-depth in hopes that I can help more people.

Until the next post, get out there and observe your garden and make notes on what you need to do to have the best garden this year. Get started with your garden planning.

Happy Gardening!

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