Now that the weather is finally perking up, you may be thinking of your summer vegetable garden. Here are 5 easy veggies you can grow with minimal care and google searches.
The classic vegetable in every garden. If you've never grown tomatoes before, now is the time! While there are many varieties to choose from, once you pick the type you want, all you need to do is find a sunny spot in your garden and watch it grow.
(Pictured - 'San Marzano' tomatoes - the original canning tomato)
There are two main differences with tomatoes, and that is whether they are determinate or indeterminate.
Determinate means they will only grow to a certain height and most, if not all, of the fruit will ripen around the same time. These are great for regions with short seasons so you end up with lots of fruit.
Indeterminate means they will continute to grow as long as you let them, and the ripening will vary. Perfect for long summers where you can enjoy fresh tomatoes all season long.
Nothing beats a fresh cucumber straight from the garden. Grocery store cucumbers have nothing on a cucumber you've grown yourself. Plus, you can turn certain types into pickles, and if that isn't the best reason to grow them, I don't know what is.
Slicing cucumbers are grown for fresh eating, straight to your table, and are nothing short of delicious. There are many different kinds so it's best to choose based on your own preferences. Here at Hemwood, we grow 'Gateway' slicing cucumbers from Veseys, and are very happy with them!
Pickling cucumbers are grown for, well, making pickles! Just think, it's the middle of January, and you're cracking open a jar of dill or bread & butter pickles that you grew, harvested and canned back in August. I'm telling you, it's worth it. Last year we grew 'Regal' cucumbers from Veseys, and not only were they abundant in fruit, but taste amazing as pickles! We highly recommend. All you need is somewhere for them to spread, whether on a trellis (we use a tunnel [in picture] or trellis) or on the ground, lots of full sun and water and then get ready to bask in all the cucumbers!
(Pictured - Gateway and Regal cucumbers
3. Summer squash (Zucchini)
Squash is one of the easiest vegetables we grow around here, and I'm sure you can too. One plant alone can produce plenty of zucchini for a small family. We are a family of 6, and in our personal garden, we usually grow just 2 plants and that is more than enough for us to keep up with. We grow them in raised beds, and each plant takes up about a 3'x3' area. I have used tomato cages in the past to try and save space, and it does work well if you are limited. Make sure the cage goes in when you plant the small seedling, because you will blink, and that little baby seedling will be a huge plant!
Beans are super easy and perfect for kids to get in on too. Whether you grow pole beans or bush beans, they sprout up so fast in early summer, before you know it the bees are pollinating all the surprisingly pretty little flowers, and you've got fresh beans to have with dinner. We tried a purple pole bean last year called Carminat from Veseys, and when we boiled them, they turned green! It really got the kids going. They were so delicious and we never had any leftover.
5. Pumpkins & Gourds
Depending on how much space you have, pumpkins and gourds are easy to grow with little care. They do best in full sun, and need a significant amount of space depending on which variety you get. All of the yellow and orange striped pumpkins in this picture, ('blaze') all came from one single plant. A little goes a long way!
Gourds and the tiny pumpkins are always great for decorating, while the big Jack O Lantern style pumpkins are perfect for carving. Remember, the bigger the pumpkin, the bigger the plant. We grew some mega sized pumpkins last year and they took over 3 rows of the garden! This year, we will grow pumpkins straight in the compost pile or far away from anything else. Lesson learned!
Now is the time to start planting those seeds for the summer or checking out your local nurseries and grabbing the plants you so desire for a great harvest.