It’s time to finalize garden plans and even put some cold weather crops in the ground.
Don’t procrastinate or be overwhelmed with growing a garden. Plant easy to grow vegetables you actually like to eat.
I know how you feel, I’m a novice gardner too and I want EASY veggies that my lazy summer attitude can easily handle.
Reasons to Grow your Own Vegetables
Gardens take some work, but taking the time to plant even a small garden has many benefits. A garden means…
- more fresh, healthy food in your diet.
- saving money on food!
- controlling what goes into the soil and on the plants.
- burning calories, enjoying fresh air, and reducing stress by working in the soil.
- increasing self-reliance by building new skills.
Note: If you’ve been meticulously planning your garden space all winter, this article is not for you. You may take this moment to laugh at all of us indecisive gardeners and go read something more scintillating.
I start to get hyper every year when I hear others talking about their new garden experiments and all the scrumptious produce they’ve had great success with. Me? Not really into tons of experimentation, and not so successful with anything remotely tricky in the garden. When I do something, I like to do it well… that’s why I’ve researched 10 of the easiest vegetables to grow for this year’s garden.
The Easy Vegetable List
CARROTS: These quick-growing seeds can be planted in spring or late summer. They prefer cooler climates, and do best in deep, loose soil. Seeds sprout easily, producing a million teeny plants that must be thinned. When tops are two inches tall, pull out enough small ones to leave room for bigger ones to mature.
RADISHES: These do well in containers as well as garden beds. Seeds can be planted in early spring as soon as you can work the soil. They mature and are ready to be eaten within about three weeks! These can be grown together with carrots, helping to break down the surface for weaker carrots to come through. Early spring radishes are milder in flavor, and the heat of summer produces spicier radishes.
LETTUCE: There are many varieties of leaf lettuce you can choose from. Plant as seeds or young plants, making sure they’re placed in afternoon shade and get plenty of water. Pull leaves off heads as they mature to create fresh, crisp salads! A second crop can be started for fall when the blazing hot weather has passed.
TOMATOES: Plant tomatoes after the last frost. Tomatoes are easiest to grow from starter plants. Choose a sunny, warm spot and stake plants to keep them from flopping over when fruit gets heavy. Marigolds planted around garden beds and interspersed between plants will prevent horned worms from making a feast of your tomatoes. Try a cherry tomato plant if you want a sweet snack in the garden until the fall frost arrives.
PEPPERS: Peppers are also grown easiest from small starters, planted after the danger of frost has passed. They prefer moist soil, and benefit from being staked as they grow upright. Peppers can be picked at any size you prefer.
BUSH BEANS: Have children sow these big seeds in late spring. Bush beans don’t require any staking and grow quickly. Choose a spot with full sun for your beans. For maximum sweetness and delicate crispness, harvest when they’re small before seed pods form.
ONIONS: Plant your “sets” (mini onions) early in the season. Don’t pull too early…they’re ready to harvest when green tops begin to yellow. You may want to dry onions out for a week or two if you plan to store them in a cool place.
SPINACH: This leafy green grows easily, but won’t tolerate heat. Plant in the spring (and harvest before the summer heat) or in late summer for a fall crop. Harvest some leaves beginning at 30 days and regularly thereafter to encourage growth.
CUCUMBERS: Plant cukes when the danger of frost has passed. Allow space for plants to sprawl, or trellis them upward to save space in the garden. Grow smaller varieties if you want to make your own pickles. Harvest cucumbers regularly to keep plants producing.
ZUCCHINI: Plant seeds or starter plants in late spring. Choose a sunny spot and create a mound for planting. Zucchini plants will sprawl, so be sure to give them some space. Harvest frequently while veggie is small and skin is shiny. The problem with zucchini is trying to find recipes to put them all to use!
** To get started, find high-quality gardening supplies and seeds here!
Growing is Fun – Involve Everyone
Growing your own veggies doesn’t have to take a ton of effort. Poll the family to see what they’re interested in having on the table and enlist help from each person. Put the kiddos in charge of planting veggies they choose, and assign “garden jobs” to each member of the family. You’ll need a Garden Prep Team, a Watering Specialist, a Harvesting Technician, a Recipe Locater (so you can put all the yummy fresh food to use)… you get the idea–be creative. Time to start preparing that garden space and narrowing down the list of veggies making a appearance this year!
How about you? What will be sprouting in your garden? Do you have some go-to veggies that make the cut each year?
References and Resources
- “Lettuce” on Wikipedia
- “30 Ways in 30 Days to Stretch Your Fruit and Vegetable Budget” by the Fruits and Veggies Matter branch of the CDC.
- “Home Vegetable Gardening” by Larry Bass, Extension Horticultural Specialist at North Carolina State University
- Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces
- The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible
- Grow Vegetables: Gardens – Yards – Balconies – Roof Terraces