Growing vegetables at home is an extremely rewarding activity. It’s a great way to teach children where our food comes from, and you get a useful and nourishing product at the end of the harvest. If you get skilled enough at it, you can even sell some of your produce at local markets.
Gardening has a fairly high learning curve, so it’s best to start with plants that are easy to grow and have a high nutrient value. Some common vegetables, such as celery and broccoli, are extremely difficult to grow. Begin with these simple vegetables and a good book on gardening for your local area and you won’t fail.
I chose radishes first because they are extremely quick to grow and they’re one of the earliest vegetables you can put into the ground. You’ll know if you have the gardening bug or not after growing these! Plant them two weeks before the last frost date. Radishes don’t like heat. Harvest them when you feel they’re big enough, but if they get too big they can become tough to eat and woody in the middle.
2. Brassicas (Cabbage, kale, collard greens)
Brassicas are those dark green leafy vegetables your doctor is always telling you to eat. Once you can grow one, you can grow any of them with little change. I suggest starting with collard greens if you’re in a warm climate, or kale if you’re in a more northern one. These are the easiest of the brassicas to grow. You can sow these early as a spring crop, or in the start of fall if you want to have greens in late winter. Brassicas prefer cool weather and are frost hardy. If your crop looks floppy or weak even with proper watering, check the lime content of your soil.
Potatoes is popular because the ease of use in cooking, 71 recipes of potatoes here. Potatoes can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. It all depends on how much production you want to get per plant. The easiest way to expand production is to “hill” the potato plants. Plant your seed potatoes 4-5″ deep and wait. When there is about a foot of growth, cover the bottom quarter of the plant with straw. Repeat this weekly. Never cover more than a quarter of the plant at a time. Make the mulch thick to encourage potato production. With a little luck, you’ll be able to reach right into the mulch and find potatoes a few months afterward!
4. Curcubits (Cucumbers, squash, zucchini, pumpkins)
Curcubits are another plant family that are all very similar to one another. They are all hot-weather plants that require plenty of space and water. If you give them what they want, they’ll spread violently across your garden. Make sure you can keep up with their intense production by planting just one or two every week. You don’t want to end up buried in zucchini. Start with yellow crookneck squash for the best results.
5. Tomatoes (and eggplant and peppers)
Finally, there’s the most common garden plant, the humble tomato. I recommend start with bushy cherry tomato plants unless you already have trellises or some other way to handle vining varieties. Tomatoes love fertilizer, and they also love to be lifted off the ground. You can easily lose your tomatoes by leaving them on the ground for pests to eat. If you can get tomatoes down, then try eggplants and peppers, which grow similarly.