Now that you’ve decided to start a garden, you need to choose the vegetables to grow in your garden.
First, only grow foods that you like to eat. It is a waste of time and garden space to grow vegetables that your family does not enjoy. Secondly, if this is your first garden, I recommend choosing easy to grow vegetables. Make a list of your family’s favorite veggies to eat and compare it to the list below of vegetables that are easy to grow.
EASY VEGETABLES TO GROW
Some easy crops to grow your first year are:
- summer squash
- bush beans
- bell and hot peppers
- most herbs
VEGETABLES TO STAY AWAY FROM
There a few crops to stay away from if you are starting out or don’t have a lot of space. I’ve also included the reasons they don’t make good starter crops.
- Corn-it is wind pollinated so you need at least 4 rows to get a decent crop. It also takes up a good bit of room to get your 4 rows.
- Cantaloupes and watermelons-They take an enormous amount of space for their vines to spread out.
- Pumpkins-same reasons as cantaloupe and watermelons.
TRANSPLANTS OR SEED?
If this is your first garden, I recommend purchasing plants for most of your garden, as starting most plants from seed needs some specialized equipment (a grow light). The exceptions to this are summer squash, zucchini, and bush beans. All three are very easy to start from seed directly in the garden. If you are trying carrots, they need to be sown directly in the ground also, as they don’t transplant well.
When you start to look through seed catalogs or go to a garden center, it is going to be very tempting to buy lots of varieties of each vegetable. However, you need to keep the size of your garden area in mind as you select your vegetables to grow. (And if this is your first garden, its best to START SMALL!)
Most plant tags and seed packets will tell you how far apart to place your plants. I have found that if you are using beds you can usually get away with spacing the plants just a little bit closer. Most garden centers and home improvement stores will carry varieties that are suited to your region so it may be easier to purchase your seeds and plants locally.
FIND YOUR LAST EXPECTED FROST DATE
Before you head to the store to pick out your veggies, you also need to know your expected last frost date. You can use this map to determine that date. Lettuce, spinach, peas, and most cole crops (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.) need to be planted in early spring, about 4 weeks before before your last frost. Summer crops such as tomatoes, squash, beans, and peppers, will not survive even a light frost. They should not be planted until AFTER your last expected frost.
So, make out a list of vegetables you think you’ll want to plant. Next week we will look at making a garden plan to ensure you have space for everything you want to grow.
Have you grown a garden before? I would love to know whether you grow a large garden, just few vegetables, or if you have never gardened before and are hoping to start.