Planting a garden doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. But the fear of failure keeps many a gardener-wannabe from spending time and energy on planting backyard crops. Knowing the easy vegetables to grow for your region — in addition to when and where to plant them — is the best way to ensure success.
When planning your crops, try to space out the planting of foods that have a short harvest season. An ideal garden will always have something to put on the table, rather than an abundant period and then a dry spell with nothing growing.
Some of the easiest garden goods for first timers are yellow squash and zucchini, potatoes, radishes and tomatoes. Since potatoes and zucchinis can overtake your garden, consider using an appropriately sized planting container to control their growth in a small space. The best way to start potatoes is by using the little eyes that sprout from older potatoes. Plant these 6 to 8 inches apart, water them, and when the little flowers on top wilt, they are ready to harvest.
Squash plants can be planted into small hills, and are ready to eat when they are about 6 inches in length. Summer squash typically takes just under two months to mature.
Radishes are another no-brainer crop. They can tolerate shade, and with regular watering will provide a continual crop in as little as six weeks from planting.
Strawberries are popular for their ability to grow in many places and for their sweet, tangy taste and beautiful appearance. They can be grown in a traditional plot, a window box or hanging basket.
Keep in mind that something must be done to keep away the squirrels — they have a thing for those sweet berries. Some gardeners find that short fences are the only way to keep out bunnies and squirrels, even if they do make access a little more challenging for humans.
Tomatoes are possibly the most popular garden vegetable. With abundant uses from salads to sauces, and an endless array of tomato varieties from grape to heirloom, this is a must-have for any garden.
As with strawberries, tomatoes can be grown in a hanging basket or upside down planter that allows the vines to tumble over the sides of the basket, adding height and curb appeal to your garden. Smaller varieties of tomatoes can climb up ropes and lattice work, and have been known to grow as high as 8 to 9 feet tall.
Beans are a hearty, nutrient-packed food worth growing. Pole beans will grow up a wire mesh or string, and last longer than bush beans, which grow in a small bush — as the name suggests. Garlic is another hardy plant that is full of health benefits and easy to grow. Plant broccoli, spinach and cabbage mid-summer so that they will mature when the weather cools down.
Herbs are undoubtedly the highlight of any garden, adding flavor and fun to any garden-grown vegetable. Dill, parsley and chives are some of the easiest herbs and will grow abundantly, reseeding themselves each year. Anise, basil, lavender and mint are all fragrant and beautiful plants that can enhance your gardening experience with pleasant aromas.
Once your plants are in the ground, there are two rules to live by: weed regularly to keep plants from being strangled, and water in the morning before the sun comes out.
Know of other easy vegetables to grow? Leave us a note in the comments below.
Also on MNN: A complete guide for the first-time gardener