Whether it is to promote sustainability, encourage eco-friendly dining or simply cut down a little on the grocery bills, home gardens are experiencing a Renaissance of sorts. Everybody’s thumb is going green!
But what if you’re a newbie when it comes to gardening? You don’t want to see all your hard work go awry. Starting a garden from scratch can be intimidating unless you know which plants are easy to grow.
Fortunately, we’ve got a list of crops you can plant that will yield a ton (without demanding a ton of work). Grab a shovel and a spade and get your seed, because here’s where you can start your first summer garden.
Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables to grow in a garden – and not without good reason! They are easy to grow and require minimal maintenance. You can start with seedlings or seeds by planting them in a sunny spot with well-draining soil. Just make sure they get enough water, especially during hot and dry spells.
A lot of home gardeners like to plant more than one variety. Beefsteak tomatoes are great for sandwiches and burgers, while cherry tomatoes are wonderful on salads and can be grown in hanging pots.
Zucchinis are another vegetable that is effortless to grow in a garden. They are quick-growing and can produce a large (okay, huge) crop in just a few weeks. In fact, zucchini can be so prolific that you can easily end up with more than enough for your family, friends and neighbors, so be restrained when you plant.
Zucchinis grow best in well-draining soil and a sunny spot in your garden. They also require regular watering, especially during the hottest summer months and during dry spells. Zucchinis are versatile vegetables and can be roasted, used in stews and made into that old summer staple – zucchini bread.
Radishes are another quick-growing crop that is effortlessly grown in a backyard garden. They prefer cooler weather, so plant them in the early spring or fall. Radishes can grow in almost any type of soil and require little maintenance – making them a “plant and go” type project.
Radishes are a great crop to plant if you’re looking to get a quick harvest. You can expect to have fresh radishes in as little as four weeks. They can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads to sandwiches.
Low-maintenance vegetables like cucumbers also can produce a large crop, but you can easily turn the extras into homemade freezer pickles. If you grow them in your garden along with tomatoes, you can enjoy fresh cucumber and tomato salad all summer.
Cucumbers prefer warm weather and – like zucchini – require regular watering. Cucumbers can be grown in the ground or in containers, and need only minimal pruning.
Peppers may be the most effortless vegetable to grow in a garden. They prefer warm weather and need just minimal maintenance and effort to produce a large crop.
Because they come in a variety of colors and flavors, peppers are a versatile addition to any garden. You can plant red, yellow and orange bell peppers for summer stir-fries and fall roasts. If you like spice, get a hanging pot and plant chili or habanero peppers for a colorful and flavorful addition to your dinner table.
Some of the simplest plants to grow in a home garden are herbs. Because they require so little space, they can easily be planted in pots or window boxes. Just make sure that they get enough sunlight, a little pruning now and then and regular watering.
Popular herbs such as basil, thyme, mint and rosemary are all easy and quick to grow. You will love being able to use them fresh from your garden in everything from cocktails to hearty stews.
Fresh strawberries are delicious – and a nearly effortless berry to grow in either a garden or containers. They prefer cooler weather and require regular watering, but the hardest part of growing this crop is keeping the critters (birds, squirrels and rabbits) out of the patch.
Strawberries can, of course, be used in jams and jellies and sliced up for salads, but they can also be enjoyed just as they are – or maybe dusted lightly with sugar.
Blackberries are another effortless berry that’s easily grown in a garden. This summer berry adds a burst of juicy flavor to muffins and pies. Blackberries are also a great source of antioxidants for healthy types who like them in smoothies or as topping on yogurt.
Blackberries grow best when planted in well-draining soil and a sunny spot in your garden. These hardy berries can produce a fairly large crop without demanding much of your attention.
Don’t plant your cabbage until the heat of summer has passed. Once early fall arrives with its first breath of cool air, you can go wild planting both the edible and ornamental versions. Both types make beautiful additions to your garden and table, and they can produce until the first frost comes.
Someone once (rightly) said that there’s nothing you can do to ruin cabbage except boil it, so try it in salads, on burgers, fried with butter and mixed with noodles or roasted in chunks to add variety to your meals.
Like radishes, the seeds are easy to sow, and the plants are easy to grow. They can even be grown in containers. You can stick with a standard orange carrot or put in a variety of colors. Heirloom styles come in yellow, white and purple and add natural beauty to your table.
Carrots are delicious when roasted with meat and potatoes. They can also be stored for quite a while in a cool, dark place without going bad.
Ultimately, a home garden can generate more than just food for your table. It can help you feel more connected to nature and your own property, and it can create a huge sense of personal accomplishment.
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