Easiest Vegetables to Grow

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Easiest Vegetables to Grow

These Seeds are Particularly Easy to Grow 

Starting a garden is one of the most rewarding projects you can do this summer. Even more important is the health benefit. You will know exactly what went into your food. You will decide if you want to use pesticides or if you want an organic garden. You can decide exactly which variety of vegetable you want to grow so it is the flavor and size you prefer. Best of all is you are getting the emotional and physical benefit of being outdoors and physically active.

If you are a novice gardener, there are a few basics you will need to know. The first is to determine your growing zone. Your growing zone will give you the average last frost date in spring and the average first frost date in fall. The key word is average. It can vary each year and the last frost could be earlier or later, but it does give you an estimate of when you will be able to plant. As the time comes closer, check your local forecast to see if it is safe to plant. Many seedlings are not able to tolerate the cold and will die if exposed to freezing temperatures.

When it is safe to plant, decide how you want to garden. A garden can be successfully grown in containers. In fact, there are many varieties of vegetables that have been developed especially for growing in containers. So, don’t be deterred from gardening by a lack of yard space or because you didn’t get around to preparing a garden bed last fall. Any container will work for growing vegetables. Just remember if you are planting carrots, the container needs to be deep enough to accommodate the length of the mature carrot. Also, a large tomato plant has a large root system. You would want to use a 5-gallon bucket size container for your tomatoes. Just keep in mind the size of the plant when mature when determining the size of the pot or container. 

If you are ready for a more traditional garden, decide if you want a raised bed garden or the traditional ground level garden. There are advantages to both, and it is really just a matter of preference. Either garden will benefit from added organic material like compost to provide nutrients for your growing vegetables. You will also need access to water for those times when there isn’t enough rainfall to keep your plants happy. Lastly, all plants need sunlight. Vegetables need full sun although there are a few that will tolerate a little less direct sun.

Once your garden is prepped and the weather is warm enough, you can plant your vegetable seeds and plants. Purchase good quality seeds and plants from a reputable seed house. Your seed package will tell you how to plant the seeds, how long to expect it to take to germinate and how long before you will be able to harvest vegetables. Some vegetables take a very long time from planting seeds till harvest, including tomatoes and peppers. These plants require starting the plant seeds indoors if you want a harvest. If you are a novice at gardening, you may want to buy started plants the first year. All the vegetables that require a shorter grow time can be successfully grown when direct sown in the garden soil. So, are there some easy to grow vegetables? There absolutely are and here are some suggestions to consider.

1. Radishes 

Radishes are so easy to grow and have very minimal needs. The radish seeds are nice size round seeds, making them easy to plant with space between the seeds. Once they come up, which will be in only a few days, thin the radishes to give them the space they need. The seed package will tell you how far apart to space them. The best thing about radishes, besides the taste, is they grow fast. They are usually one of the first vegetables you will harvest. It is very fulfilling when you pull the first radish from the ground. Some people don’t care for the sharp taste of radishes. If you are one of them, try roasting them. It’s a game changer.

2. Lettuce

Lettuce is a cool weather crop, which means it can tolerate cooler temperatures and even survive a light frost if you cover it with plastic or a lightweight cloth. There are lots of types of lettuce to choose from and it is difficult to choose. If you are looking for some variety, plant smaller amounts of different lettuces to grow a wonderful mix for your salad. The colors of lettuce range from bright yellow-green to deep reds and the shapes of the leaves also add variation to any lettuce dish. 

Lettuce is fast-growing and if you choose leaf lettuce, the lettuce is a crop that keeps growing back as you cut it. Simply use kitchen shears and cut the lettuce off above ground level. In a couple of days, it will grow new leaves to replace the ones you cut. Another option is to plant in succession. Every two weeks plant a new amount of lettuce to keep a fresh supply.

Lettuce does not like heat. It can become bitter and even bolt (send up a flower stalk to produce seeds). Pull the lettuce out during the hot months of summer and then replant in the fall when the temperatures start to drop. 

3. Spinach

Spinach is even more tolerant of cold than lettuce. Spinach can survive down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit and will tolerate even a late snow. Use your spinach as one of the first salads of spring. Spinach also has nice seeds that are easy to plant and you can plant them very early when other seeds could not survive. Thin the seedlings as directed on the package to allow the plants to grow without crowding. Spinach also does not like the heat. It will want to bolt. There has been work done to develop a variety that can tolerate more heat without bolting so look for that trait when you purchase seeds. As with lettuce, plant in the cool spring and replant in the fall cool weather.

4. Green Beans

If you have never tasted green beans fresh from the garden, you are in for a treat. The flavor of fresh beans is so superior to store-bought or processed beans that you will never want to go back. Add the fact that they are so easy to grow, and they will be planted in your garden from now on. Green beans grow either on a vine or a bush variety. Vines require a trellis of some kind for the beans to grow on. If you don’t want to bother with the trellis, choose seeds for bush beans. These plants grow to about 18 inches tall and require no support. These plants are so prolific. It is amazing how many beans each plant can produce. The easy-care plants require little attention as they grow–other than adequate water. You can also grow yellow beans, which grow just as the green beans. Some gardeners prefer the milder flavor of the yellow beans or grow both and mix them together when serving for a colorful contrast.

5. Carrots

Some people find carrots a little more difficult to plant. The seeds are very small but not impossible to handle. Once they start to grow, you will need to thin the carrots to give each plant the room it needs to develop. An easy way to thin the carrots rather than pulling out seedlings is to just cut off the extra plants at ground level. Another method is to purchase seed tapes. The tapes are holding carrot seeds spaced the appropriate distance apart. You simply lay the tape on the soil and cover with a thin layer of soil and water in. The seed tape will disintegrate and the seeds will grow spaced correctly for the variety. As with all root crops, you want loose soil that the carrot can easily penetrate. Unfortunately, all gardeners are not dealing with that type of soil. While you can add organic matter to improve your soil each year, if you have clay soil, look for carrot varieties that are half long. These will still give you a great crop, but you won’t have to worry about misshapen carrots that are fighting to grow to a longer length.

6. Zucchini

Zucchini has a reputation as the monster growing vegetable in the garden. It is well-earned, as many of us have seen the baseball bat sized zucchini our coworkers have brought in to give away to any taker. However, picked when it is small, green and yellow zucchini roasted on the grill or added to a vegetable mix is so delicious and easy to grow. Zucchini is a summer squash, which means it is not going to keep like a winter squash does. It is used fresh from the garden. There are bush varieties of summer squash that will still take up about four feet of space, but worth it if you love this vegetable. Plant the seeds in a hill of soil and you will have enough squash for the entire growing season. This plant will keep producing as long as you keep picking. If you do end up with one of those giant zucchini, you can shred it up and use it to make zucchini bread. Freeze a few loaves to enjoy in the middle of winter.

7. Tomatoes

Most people who start to garden are looking for that delicious red tomato, fresh from the garden and still warm from the sun. Tomatoes are not too difficult to grow. They do need a lot of time from seed until you have ripe tomatoes. Most of us will be buying already started plants to put in our gardens. Tomatoes are heavy feeders; so adding lots of organic material to the soil is important.

There are two types of tomatoes: determinate and indeterminate. The difference is in the size of the plant. A determinate variety will grow to a certain height and stop. The indeterminate tomato will keep growing until the cold hits and then stop. An indeterminate could grow to 25-30 feet long.

There are also all different types of tomatoes. Choose according to how you will use your tomatoes. If you want a big single slice of tomato that will cover your sandwich, get a beefsteak variety. If you want a tomato in your salad or to eat by the handful, plant a cherry tomato.  If you intend to make your own tomato sauce, you may want a paste tomato. Don’t forget the heirloom tomatoes. The seed companies are making the seeds available that your grandmother might have grown. The variety is incredible and includes striped tomatoes or a purple almost black tomato. It is not just the color that is different, but also the flavor. The heirloom tomatoes can have extra sweet or rich smoky flavors. Tomatoes are so much fun to grow because of the unique differences each one brings to the table. Water your tomato plants consistently and deeply and use a good tomato fertilizer once a month. The day before you are going to pick tomatoes, hold off watering for a more intense flavor explosion.

8. Peppers 

Peppers are also an easy plant to grow. Like tomatoes, peppers need a long growing season so start with plants. Peppers cannot tolerate cold so be sure the danger of cold weather is past before you plant peppers in your garden. Peppers have the same amount of variety as tomatoes. There are sweet bell peppers in reds, greens and yellows. There are spicy peppers with just a slight amount of heat to the extreme heat of a Carolina Reaper and other hot peppers. Just keep them watered and watch them grow a bounty of food.

Water regularly and weed your garden and you will grow an amazing variety and abundance of food.