Starting a garden can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you have a plot for a garden, plans for a raised garden or just a few pots around your patio, growing your own fruits and vegetables can be very rewarding.
The good news is that you can start small and add some new plants year after year. The better news is that there are some fruits and vegetables that are easy to grow.
There are many types of lettuce and other salad greens – head lettuce, leaf lettuce, spinach, arugula, just to name a few. They are easy to maintain, grow quickly and don’t need a lot of room. They prefer the cooler temperatures of spring and fall, rather than the heat of summer. To ensure that you have greens all summer long, you can plant seeds every two weeks.
The flavor of summer comes from tomatoes. You can buy starter plants from nurseries and home improvement stores. Tomatoes prefer the sun and can be grown in pots and even upside-down hanging baskets. Opt for heirlooms and grow a variety ranging from green to yellow to purple.
Vine cucumber plants need some room because they spread out. They can take over areas of your garden and choke out sun and nutrients from other plants. Opt for bush rather than vine plants. They don’t spread as much and are more resistant to disease. Cucumbers will grow all summer long.
A root vegetable, carrots grow until they hit something, then grow around it. If you have rocky soil, you’ll get crooked carrots. Still edible, but not visually appealing. For long, beautiful carrots, you need deep soil. Carrots are ready to harvest when you can see them above the soil.
If you like radishes, the good news is that they’re incredibly easy to grow. Spring radishes are mild in flavor, can grow in pots and are ready in three to four weeks. Hot summer soil produces spicier radishes.
There are many varieties from which to choose. Beans prefer sun and well-drained soil. As with cucumbers, there are vine and bush types of bean plants.
Preferring warm soil, zucchini and other types of squash are perfect to add to your garden later in the year. They can grow just fine in pots or in mounded soil. Zucchini plants do need water in order to flourish.
If you want to start even smaller, grow an herb garden. Herbs can be grown in pots or in a garden. Basil, thyme, dill, cilantro, chives… all can be grown with minimal effort, space and maintenance.
Whether you want to reduce your carbon footprint, explore the possibilities of sustainable food sources, or simply like the idea of gardening, if you’ve got a back yard with a bit of space, gardening can be rewarding, cost-effective and best of all, delicious!