Thanksgiving Gardens and How to Grow Them

Guide to growing Thanksgiving gardens at a nearby garden center or nursery.

Written by David S.

The idea of growing a Thanksgiving Garden is not new, but as more people get into gardening, passing along the idea of themed gardens becomes essential. In this article, we discuss planning and growing food fit for the Thanksgiving holiday table. 

Think about the types of foods you might serve at Thanksgiving. Potato salad, for example, has potatoes, celery, parsley, onions, and a host of other secret ingredients. Well, you can grow potatoes, celery, parsley, onions, and maybe even some other ingredients to make a fantastic potato salad. That is the spirit of this endeavor, and as you keep reading, we will try our best to inspire you to grow a beautifully delicious Thanksgiving meal.

Roasted Vegetable 

Generally, we are talking about roots, but don’t be so quick. You can add to that list to include cubed winter squash and Brussels sprouts. While there are many recipes for roasted vegetables, here are some standards to consider in your garden. 

  • Potatoes — consider a mixture of potatoes to add color and flavor to a pan of roasted veg. 
  • Carrots — carrots come in many colors, sizes, and shapes. Like potatoes, consider adding a variety of carrots. Danvers, rainbow, Parisian carrots are three options for color, shape, and flavor. 
  • Parsnips — add a lovely bit of sweetness to a roast veg mixture by growing parsnips. These white, carrot-like roots are a favorite. 
  • Sweet Potatoes — like parsnips, sweet potatoes add a lovely sweet flavor, and their texture is soft and delightful.
  • Onions — Not everyone adds onions to roasted vegetables, but onions have a place with so many flavor options available. Yellow onions are sweeter, while red onions tend to add some heat. A mixture is a lovely way to spice up roasted vegetables. 
  • Herbs — don’t be afraid to make your own fresh or dried herb topping for roasted vegetables. Rosemary adds a lovely aromatic, while oregano and basil can bring a touch of earthy goodness. The list of herbs can include sage, marjoram, anis, dill, thyme, and so many others.  
  • Winter Squash — cubed or sliced winter squash brings a ton of sweet flavor and beautiful textures. Options include pumpkin, delicata, banana, acorn, Hubbard, and butternut are a few options. 

Mashed Potatoes 

There are some fantastic varieties of potatoes, and based on the starch content, they are better for certain dishes than are others. Two potatoes that stand out as better for mashing include the russet and the Yukon gold. Not sure which one to choose? That’s not a problem, and many prefer to mix the two. There are no hard and fast rules to which potatoes you can use and which you cannot. It’s about creating a taste and texture that you love. To that end, the purple, red, and fingerlings can be delightful choices too. 

Growing potatoes is also a fun adventure. Start them in a grow bag or container. Add just enough soil to cover the seed potatoes. There is an eye on the potato where a new potato plant will grow, so cut the seed potatoes to create more plants. As the leaves emerge from the soil, gently add more soil or straw. Some people prefer to grow potatoes in straw rather than dirt. As the plant struggles to emerge from the growing medium, it produces places along the roots where potatoes will form — The taller the plant, the more options for potatoes. 

Potatoes play a significant role in Thanksgiving meals. They are part of many side dishes, and beyond the turkey, Thanksgiving dinner is all about side dishes. 

Growing Herbs and Greens 

Poultry seasoning has long been a go-to herb mix for turkey. It contains sage, rosemary, pepper, marjoram, oregano, and thyme. However, different brands add different herbs, making it easy to create a blend of herbs that is your signature. Feel free to play around with dried or fresh herbs and experiment. In the modern kitchen, poultry seasoning is a rub for meat, and that means you can go wild by creating different rubs for different dishes. Keep a diary or recipe book on how you make each rub to recreate them consistently.  

Herbs are easy to grow and very forgiving. They make wonderful container plants, and serious chefs have a culinary herb garden next to the kitchen. Many herbs, especially the Mediterranean varieties, like poor, well-draining soil. They also may not require a lot of water once they are established. For the best potency with herbs, do spoil them with regular waterings. They will thrive and produce higher-quality leaves and flowers. 

Growing Root Vegetables 

Root vegetables are also easy to grow. Most prefer soil that is well-draining and loose rather than compact. You can grow roots in the ground or containers. Start with good compost and if your soil is full of clay, consider adding in perlite or another aggregate to break up the clay. Black Gold Organic Compost is an excellent option for amending container soil for root vegetables. 

Beans and More Beans 

Green beans, pole beans, yard-long beans, and many other varieties of beans have a place at Thanksgiving tables. There are many ways to add green beans to your meal, such as adding a modern classic — green bean casserole. You can add crispy onions and mushrooms along with its staple binder, canned cream of mushroom soup. If you are not a fan of canned foods, you can make your cream of mushroom soup. 

Beans are easy to grow also. Plant the seeds about 1 – 1 1/2 inches deep in good soil, water well for the next week, and the beans will emerge in 3-7 days. Many varieties are producing beans in 50-55 days. Beans love good, nutrient-rich soil with organic matter — Good compost is an easy way to prepare a green bean bed. 

Some varieties of beans need a trellis. Pole beans and yard-long beans can grow ten feet tall. Bush beans are more reserved and may require only minimal staking. 

Growing Pumpkins 

Pumpkins and pumpkin pie are essential parts of Thanksgiving. Growing pumpkins is a great job to get kids involved in gardening. Pumpkins are easy to grow and prefer to grow in mounds. There are a lot of options for pumpkins, but some are sweeter than are others. Sugar baby is a variety that is prized for pies. Before Thanksgiving is Halloween, while you are growing pumpkins for pies, consider growing a variety that is awesome for carving. Also, when it comes to creating a centerpiece or decorative pieces, the smaller pumpkins and gourds make beautiful additions to centerpieces. Jack-be-Little is one option for a small pumpkin/gourd that fits nicely on the table. 

You can substitute winter squash for pumpkin in many recipes. A Hubbard or butternut makes a lovely change from traditional pumpkin pie. 

Please pay attention to days to harvest and plan your planting, so vegetables are in season as we approach Thanksgiving. If you have questions about growing specific types of vegetables, check out our other blog articles or stop in and ask one of our plant experts. 

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