Spring is here! And with spring is the start of a fruitful activity! Gardening! Gardening is such a great enjoyment and is especially rewarding when you can harvest fresh vegetables all season long. I love having a garden. There is something about the miracle of growth and the goodness of growing your own food that continually draws me in. Today I’d like to share with you my Top 12 vegetable choices that will hopefully, with a bit of soil and seeds along with a whole lot of TLC have you enjoying vegetables the entire summer!
Lettuce is a tried and true for me. I have been growing it for about ten years and have had very little problem with it. One of my favorite varieties of lettuce that I’m growing now is romaine which my family and I really enjoy in salads. To grow good lettuce I find as long as the plants are started well, they will be great producers for you. They are a first of the season crop that produces it’s crop in spring and fall so now’s the time to start it. For beginners, I’d suggest the loose leave varieties. Either begin planting in seed starting trays indoors or plant out in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. Make sure you have good soil with some compost for an optimum harvest. When harvesting them take the surrounding leaves for eating and keep the middle which is called the “crown” which shouldn’t be cut to secure a cut and come again for the lettuce. All around a super vegetable!
Spinach is such a delicious vegetable. It can be fried, made into salads and is so good in smoothies. Our family likes it so much that in the offseason we always have a bag of it in the fridge. Spinach is a cool-season crop, so like lettuce, it can be started once the ground can be worked. Seeding spinach direct is the key since they don’t like to be transplanted. I love to eat a few leaves from the garden when it comes up. Harvesting happens up until the summer depending on what climate you have. Cut back the leaves thoroughly to promote another crop.
Radishes are by far one of the easiest veggies to grow! They have a peppery taste that is great in salads and super roasted in the oven. Start these seeds directly in the soil as soon as it can be worked. They definitely need a fabric or netting specifically for vegetables to keep the pests from getting to them. Harvest by simply pulling them out of the ground. You can keep reseeding up until summer depending on how big you want your crop to be. They are a very fun veggie and a great way to start off spring!
Peas are a delicious cool season crop that we enjoy. Though they need support as they climb, you can eat them fresh, in salads or deliciously roasted. In fact here is a good recipe for roasted snap peas – https://brooklynfarmgirl.com/2014/09/05/baked-sugar-snap-peas/ Peas are best planted by seed in the garden, they need to be trellised up when germinated and picked very regular. If you have deer in the area, mount a fence with fishing line and steel posts. Simple as it is, it works wonders to protect the garden from Deer who like to nibble on the tender plants. Peas last till about the first week of summer.
5. Swiss Chard
Swiss Chard is a sure summer crop. It can be deliciously steamed and used in salads. For a good harvest, plant mature transplants in the garden after the last frost. Harvest when leaves are a good height. They will continue growing till frost.
6. Bush Beans
Bush Beans are an excellent summer crop that produces big amounts of beans from just a few bushes, and if continually harvested, you will have a super successful crop! Bush beans grow in a bush, so they don’t need to be trellised, but they do need to be protected from deer, or you won’t have any beans. This vegetable is best steamed and produces the whole summer.
Potatoes are amazing vegetables! Irish they are! They perform so well as one plant can produce about 5-7 potatoes! We love potatoes in our family, and the possibilities are endless for what to do with them. They should be started in Spring, and by mid to late summer you’ll have a harvest depending on the variety you use. For potatoes, there are early, mid and late varieties. You can consult your local garden center for the best varieties for your area – we aim for early – midseason. Plant the potatoes deep and give them a good amount of space. When they start to emerge from the ground, hill them up as they grow. They are such a dependable crop. They can also be grown in pots or grow bags (check local garden center for them. Great for small spaces), but make sure to check watering regularly.
Carrots are incredible when grown in the garden! They taste so fresh! To get the best results, start when the soil is warm (push your finger down a couple inches to see if the soil is ready). Plant a thin row after your frost date in well-drained soil and then thin out seedlings for good-sized carrots. Harvest when you can see the top of the carrots (orange part) breaking out of the ground and getting big. Tasty!
Fresh tomatoes are a treat in summer! Start seeds indoors (I started mine a few days ago) and plant transplants after frost date in warm soil. I suggest using a small hoop house to get the plants going and act like a greenhouse. If you have a small greenhouse make sure to use that for your tomatoes. Know if your tomatoes are determinate (bush) or indeterminate (climber) (very important). If indeterminate stake early. Around mid to late summer you’ll have some beautiful tomatoes to enjoy!
Cukes! Gotta love em! Pickling or fresh they are delicious and a very productive crop! Start indoors in small pots ready to plant when frost is done. Give them some space so they can grow and so you can harvest them well. Now a trick with these, make sure you look underneath the whole plant when you are harvesting as they can hide well. You’ll be happy with these! Easy way to pickle is the fermenting way!
Nothing quite like a fresh cob of corn! Corn is a very vigorous grower that can be planted after frost directly in the soil. Don’t overwater and when ready to harvest, pick it right away! It is so delicious grown fresh!
Saved one of the best for last. Love fresh zucchini in the summer! Grilled, stuffed or baked in zucchini bread, zucchini is such a good veggie! Start them indoors in pots then plant outside when frost is over. Space well apart so plants can grow. Harvest them with gloves and garden pruners. They produce so well!
Now I wanted to mention to anyone who doesn’t have access to a big garden that there are many other options that would work just as good if not better: plot in a community garden, growing in raised beds (I do this), pots, basins, planters – whatever you can get your hands on, just make sure you choose the right plants for your area and the ones that can grow: ex: radishes, lettuce, and spinach will work great in a shady deck space. Most all of the plants I mentioned can be grown in limited space, except corn. Do a search online for more information. You’ll find lots!!
Keep growing and enjoy a beautiful week! Spring is here!