New gardeners are sometimes intimidated at the prospect of growing their own vegetable garden. But most vegetables are quite easy to grow as long as you know their basic needs.
To begin, identify a nice sunny space in your yard for a garden and work the soil so it is ready for new plants. Then head out to your local nursery or farmers market to buy seedlings. Many of these plants can also be started from seed, such as carrots, tomatoes, and pumpkins.
Start with familiar plants that your family loves to eat, and learn the best way to grow them. Here are 10 plants that are easy to grow in the home garden.
- Carrots. Carrots are excellent vegetables to grow at home, and they are fun to pick and eat. You can begin planting your carrots in early spring because they respond well to cooler temperatures. The soil should be loose, so the roots can easily develop. Watch out for clumps or rocks that can make your carrots split. Harvest carrots in about 60 days. The tops will be full and green when they are ready.
- Bell Peppers. Peppers are a fun vegetable for the home gardener. Bell peppers grow easily in warm soil and full sun. Remember to keep them watered. Mulch will help keep the soil moist. If your pepper plants get too heavy, prop them up with sturdy garden stakes or tomato cages.
- Zucchini. Zucchini and other varieties of summer squash are known for producing lots of vegetables at their peak. Plant zucchini in full sun after the last spring frost. Mulch around the plants to keep the soil moist. Ideally, summer squash likes moisture several inches into the ground.
- Cucumbers. Grow cucumbers in a sunny spot with loose soil. Cucumbers come in either bush or vine varieties, and vine are especially fun because you can train them up trellises or even your fence.You can expect lots of fruit from your cucumbers, so dig out your grandmother’s pickle recipes early.
- Pumpkins. It’s easy to grow your own pumpkins for fall celebrations. Plant your pumpkins as soon as possible after the last frost. They may need up to 100 days to grow. Pumpkins like rich soil, so add manure if necessary.
- Tomatoes. Tomatoes are the most common plant for home gardeners. There are many types and sizes of tomatoes to choose from, so try a few if your family loves tomatoes. Grow any type of tomato in full sun. Keep the fruit from touching the soil with cages or stakes. Tomatoes that develop on the ground will rot. Keep the soil around your tomato plants moist. Roots are deep and need plenty of water.
- Watermelons. Wonderful watermelons are a treat in summer. They grow in long vines, so you’ll want plenty of space. Adding compost to the soil will help your watermelons grow larger.
- Onions. Onions can be planted fairly early in spring. They are able to handle colder weather better than many plants. Onions don’t need a lot of water but shouldn’t be allowed to dry out. When onions are ready to harvest, the tops will turn yellow and then brown.
- Bush Beans. There are several types of beans a home gardener can choose from. Bush beans are a simple choice because they grow in a bush style rather than on a vine. Bush beans also tend to grow a bit faster than pole beans. Bush beans need a lot of sunlight and well-drained soil. Plant them every two weeks to be sure you have a constant supply.
- Lettuce. You’ll have fresh salads all summer when you grow your own lettuce. Plants lettuce in raised beds to keep the soil warm. Harvest lettuce as soon as the leaves form. When the center of the plant grows long, it’s time to throw it out and replace it with a new plant.
Gardening is an economical and enjoyable family activity. Children make excellent caretakers of the vegetable garden and will benefit from learning how food is produced. For a little inspiration, check out these vegetable garden layouts from Better Homes and Garden.
Why not start your own home gardening tradition with a few of these simple plants? And soon you’ll discover the joy of providing your own food.