Thursday, April 10, 2014

Easy-to-Grow Vegetables

You want to start a vegetable garden, but don’t know where to start. You browse through a seed catalog or the rack of seed packets in your local hardware store and suddenly everything looks tempting.  It’s kind of like doing your grocery shopping when you’re hungry. 
Start small.  Select your favorites from the easy-to-grow list below.  Some of the crops need to be started indoors or purchased from your local nursery as seedlings.  Most are sown directly into your prepared soil.

Green beans. You can start these seeds after the last frost of the season.  They are easy to grow and can provide a bumper crop that will last all winter if frozen. They come in bush form or vines that will twine their way up a fence.

Radishes. Radishes grow in all soils and they mature in only a few weeks, which make them a great crop for kids to grow.  Plant seeds directly into the soil.  Depending on your zone, they can be grown twice a year—in the spring and in the fall. I’ve even found a few recipes online for grilled radishes.  Go figure – here I always believed they were limited to salads.

Salad greens (lettuce, spinach, arugula and corn salad). Sow directly into the soil.  These, like radishes, can be grown twice a year.

Peppers.  Peppers of all varieties are easy to grow. The down side is they usually need a long growing season, so it’s best to purchase plants at your local nursery or start them indoors.

Onions.  These you start from seeds or bulbs—but I found the bulbs easier to grow.  You can wait for the onion to grow to size or pull them early for green onions.

Zucchini/squash. I like the bush varieties the best, as they don’t take up as much space in the garden.  Plant the seeds directly in the ground after the last frost or purchased as plants.  Don’t plant too many, or you’ll be baking zucchini bread all the way until Christmas

Tomatoes.  My lips smack at the thought of homegrown tomatoes.  They taste so good.  They key is starting with strong plants. Watch for my upcoming blog on Growing Tomatoes.

Melons.  They’re easy to grow, but need room to spread.  Start seeds in the ground.

Potatoes.  They are easy to grow and can even be planted in straw rather than soil, which would make digging of the potatoes easy to do. (I’ve never tried it, but I’d like to.)  The seeds are potatoes, whole or cut into sections, which you can buy in the early spring.

Strawberries.  Buy the bare-root plants in early spring and plant in a sunny spot.  You may need to cover the plants with netting to keep the birds away.
Your turn:  What is your favorite vegetable?

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