What Are the Best Strawberry Varieties for Texas Gardeners?

What are the best strawberry varieties for Texas?

What are the best strawberry varieties for Texas? I really would like to enjoy them year-round, and I have the ability to grow them in a raised bed that can easily be covered.” Question from Deb or Alvarado, Texas

Answer: Great timing! I just planted 25 strawberries in my own Delaware garden, so strawberries are on my mind. There are two types of strawberries, June-bearing types that produce once a year, and everbearing types that produce one big crop in late spring and then keep yielding additional berries through the season. It sounds like you want the latter. Additionally, some strawberries are better adapted to warmer zones like yours. Three everbearing recommendations for southern gardens like yours include ‘Tribute‘ (medium-fruited, disease-resistant), ‘San Andreas’ (extra-large fruited, heat-tolerant), and ‘Seascape‘ (medium-fruited, disease-resistant). There are many more, but these three are very good choices that are commonly available.

Growing Strawberries

Strawberries grow best in soil that is well-drained, moisture-retentive, light, and high in organic matter. A soil with a slightly acid pH, between 5.5 to 6.5, is ideal. Amending with Black Gold Garden Soil, Peat Moss, or Compost Blend will boost your raised bed soil for strawberry growing. For further growing information and planting guidelines, please watch the video below.

Enjoy your strawberries.

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

What Are the Best Fall Vegetables for Southern Gardens?

“What veggies can I plant now [in midsummer] and grow into fall? [I live in Georgia.]” Question from Vesta of Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

Answer: When you are thinking about growing fall crops, think cool-season vegetables. These are the veggies that will perform the best as the temperatures become more moderate, and most will even withstand frost. In your southern climate, you can certainly grow these crops even longer because, according to your regional frost maps, your area does not see frosts until late October to mid-November, depending on the year.

Fall Vegetables for Northeastern Georgia

Here are some dependable fall vegetables that I would consider for where you live.

Root Vegetables

Cool-season root vegetables are so easy to grow and include beets, carrots, leeks, radishes, rutabagas, and turnips. Choose varieties with high ratings or those that are award-winning. Two include the AAS-winning carrot ‘Purple Haze‘ and ‘Avalanche‘ beet. If you like leeks and rutabagas, they must be planted earlier (now!) because it takes the plants a while to develop large roots. (Click here to learn more about growing fall root crops.)

Flowering Cole Crops

These crops include favorites like broccoli, cauliflower, and broccoli raab. All of these delicious cool-season vegetables taste slightly sweeter if harvested just after the first light frost. This is especially nice for fast-growing broccoli raab, which loses some of its bitterness after frost. Early-to-produce, heat-tolerant varieties of broccoli and cauliflower will be best for your fall garden. Try Belstar Broccoli and Amazing Cauliflower. (Click here to learn more about growing broccoli and cauliflower.)


Kale is so nutritious, and Mediterranean varieties, such as ‘Tronchuda Biera’ Portuguese kale and ‘Black Magic’ Italian kale, are great greens for southern autumns. You also live in collard country, so try any collard sold at local garden centers. Other recommended greens include cabbage, lettuce, and Swiss chard. Two good super late-season greens are arugula and corn salad. Both can continue to produce well after frosts have begun to hit. (Click here to learn more about growing some of these greens.)

Planting Cool-Season Vegetables

All of these vegetables grow best in full sun and rich garden soil. To ensure your soil will produce good yields amend it with Black Gold Garden Compost Blend and Black Gold Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss—working both deeply into the soil. If your soil is not of good quality deep down, I recommend double digging. This is especially needed for long, tapered root vegetables like carrots. This ensures amendments are incorporated deeply into the soil. (Learn how to double dig your beds here!)

I hope that these tips help.

Happy fall veggie gardening!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

What’s Your Favorite Eating Tomato?

Tomato ‘Gold Tomato’

“For Central MS, what is your best suggestion for a good “eatin’ ‘mater?” Question from Judy of Louisville, Mississippi

Answer: You can never love just one tomato! I have three standbys for great overall eating tomatoes. These are the ones I grow each year no matter what, and they’ll grow well in your Southern heat.

The best tomato for flavor is ‘Gold Medal’, a golden heirloom beefsteak tomato imbued with red blotches. It has beautiful fruit with an amazing sweet tomato flavor. Its only downfall is that it is not a big producer, but the flavor is tops.

My favorite all-purpose tomato is Franchi Sementi’s ‘Red Pear’. I’ve been singing the accolades of this traditional Italian heirloom for years. It bears lots of large, red, pear-shaped tomatoes with excellent flavor and firm, dense flesh. They are super for eating fresh or making sauce. This one is an all-around winner.

The orange-fleshed beefsteak ‘Kellogg’s Breakfast’ is a delicious tomato and the plants produce well. This heirloom has super sweet flavor and pleasing meaty flesh.

For great cherry tomatoes, I recommend you click here to read our Fafard article about the 10 best-tasting cherry tomatoes.

Good soil is essential for high tomato yields and good flavor. The richer and deeper the soil, the better the root development. Deep roots give tomatoes an edge during hot, dry spells, especially down South. Black Gold Garden Compost Blend and Earthworm Castings are ideal amendments for tomatoes, and both are OMRI Listed for organic gardening. Also, be sure to feed your plants with a fertilizer formulated for tomatoes.

Happy tomato growing!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist