After a few years of squeezing a tomato plant here or trying to hide bean plants from the rabbits there, I finally made up my mind in 2013 to start a “real” vegetable garden – all vegetables, no flowers, fenced properly so that no rabbits could make a salad of it. Once I made that decision, the next question was what to plant. Here are a few of the vegetables I chose for my first vegetable garden, as well as some I’ll be trying in my 2014 garden.
Tomatoes – If you have patience, you can start tomato plants from seeds in the early spring, but purchasing one or two plants in May (when someone else has done the hard work) will yield dozens of full-size tomatoes depending on the type. Cherry tomato plants will yield even more – I harvested over 400 from mine in 2013. Key to growing tomatoes: full sun (six to eight hours a day) and consistent watering.
Beans – Beans are easy to grow from seed by the direct sow method – plant them directly in your garden, water and watch them grow. Pole beans will require a trellis or some sort of support mechanism, while bush beans grow exactly that way – as a bush. If planned correctly, gardeners can get two bean harvests in a season, one in mid-summer and one in mid-fall.
Zucchini and other squash – Squash seeds can be started indoors before the planting season begins, but they also work well with the direct sow method, which is how I grew mine. Squash, particularly zucchini, is a prolific producer of fruit – make sure you know your neighbors well, because you’ll probably be supplying them with extras from your garden.
Radishes – One of the easiest vegetables to grow, and another one you can get multiple harvests from. Radishes are a cool-season vegetable, meaning you can start them outside in the garden a little earlier than other vegetables. They are also a fast grower, with most varieties maturing in 20 to 30 days. Since they’re cool season vegetables, you can sow another round of seeds in September and still have another crop before frost.
Lettuce – Lettuce is also a cool-season crop, so you’ll get multiple harvests. For continuous harvests in spring, early summer and fall, sow seeds every two weeks. Depending on the type of lettuce you grow (leaf lettuce or head lettuce, for example), days to maturity can be short.
Cucumbers – Complete your salad with some east-to-grow cucumbers, which can be planted via the direct sow method. You’ll again have to choose your type – vining types will need a trellis or room to sprawl, while bush types can be grown in more compact spaces. Your garden will produce cucumbers for many weeks, and you may once again be visiting your neighbors with extras.