Over the last few months, I have written about tips for starting a vegetable garden and the basics of growing peppers. This time, I thought it might be nice to expand on this a bit and talk about five other vegetables anyone can grow. So, if you have been wanting to start a garden but are intimidated by the idea of actually having to keep things alive, or if you did start a garden and have not yet had much success, this one is for you.
Starting with just a few easy-to-grow options allows you to build your gardening skills and confidence. It allows you to focus on really learning how to grow these few vegetables first before you expand your garden and increase the variety of food plants you grow.
So, let’s get started with the first five vegetables you should plant in your garden.
1. Bell Peppers – Most peppers are easy to grow, but to help ensure your success even more, start with bell peppers and start with seedlings from a local nursery. You can start peppers from seeds, but bell pepper seedlings are inexpensive and easy to find, so get a jumpstart on your garden with starter plants instead. Pick a sunny spot, plant them about 18 inches apart, place cages to help support them as they grow, and water frequently until established. Once established, you can back off to watering once per week in most conditions. The plant tag will let you know when they will be about ready to harvest. For a more detailed guide to growing peppers, check out my column in the May issue, which is available online.
2. Radishes – Radishes are, hands down, the easiest vegetable to grow. They are great for beginner gardeners or for teaching kids about growing food, since some varieties go from seed to harvest in just three weeks. Plant your seeds one-half inch deep in rows that are about four inches apart. Once you begin to see growth, thin them to about two inches apart in each row. Water once or twice a week, and simply pull them up when it is time to harvest.
Radishes are also great for practicing succession planting for a longer harvest.
3. Kale or Chard – Kale and chard are equally easy to grow, so choose whichever you like best and think you will use most. Either of these options can be grown from seed or from starter plants from a nursery. Plant your seeds or plants about one foot apart, water frequently until established, and then water once or twice a week depending on how hot and dry it is. Once the plants are producing well, you can start harvesting the outer leaves to use in soups and salads and to encourage the plant to continue producing leaves for later harvests.
4. Carrots – Carrots are just as easy to grow as radishes; they just take longer to go from seed to harvest. Plant seeds a few inches apart in rows about four inches apart – or, to make it even easier, lightly scatter the seeds in the area where you want your carrots to grow, and then thin them out to about three inches apart once they start growing. Water frequently at first, and then once or twice per week once they are growing well. The seed packet will tell you about how many days it will be from the time you plant them until it is time to harvest. When it is time to harvest, gently pull them out of the ground.
This is another crop that is ideal for succession planting, so consider planting one row per week over several weeks to enjoy fresh carrots from your garden longer.
5. Green Onions – Green onions are easy to grow in containers, in raised garden beds, or in the ground. You can even grow them from the scraps of old green onions in a jar of water in your kitchen. If starting form seeds, plant the seeds about one-half inch deep and about one-inch apart. If you are starting from onion sets from a nursery, plant them about two inches apart. When planted in the ground or raised beds, you will usually need to water them once or twice per week. When it is particularly hot or dry, you will need to water them more often. You will also need to water them more often if you grow them in containers. They will be ready to harvest when the greens are about eight inches tall.
AimeeJo Davis-Varela is a freelance writer specializing in real estate, sustainable home improvement, eco-friendly landscaping, green living and travel writing. She is also the owner of Mind Your Manors, which provides second home management services.
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