Growing your own food is the most gratifying and rewarding act on the planet. Starting food from seeds is easy, inexpensive and fun. But planning a garden can be daunting and many gardeners do not know where to start.
“Planning a garden starts with choosing what you love to eat,” says Farmer John Fendley of the Sustainable Seed Company. “Your garden is the ultimate grocery store because it’s convenient and tailored to your taste. But there are a multitude of other benefits to gardening such as saving money, eating healthier foods and burning calories.”
Farmer John suggests starting with these 10 simple vegetables to grow from seeds for beginners to have success in the garden:
Beets are cool weather crops that do best after the harsh winter cold and before the mid-summer heat. They can also be grown when planted in the late summer for a fall harvest. Perfect conditions for bountiful beets include soil at around 60 degrees F, plenty of water, and all the sun they can get.
Radishes are a great choice because they grow quickly and easily in both the spring and fall. They can be ready to eat in less than a month from the time you plant seeds.
“Nothing beats peas for growing with kids,” says Farmer John. Both shorter and taller varieties like to climb. Plant peas early in the season in well-draining soil on both sides of a trellis. By the time it gets warm, you’ll be shelling away.
Swiss chard is rich with vitamins and minerals and is a low-maintenance green. It is more frost and heat tolerant than other greens. Sow the seeds directly into well-composted manure, add water and watch them grow.
No childhood is complete without the experience of snapping green beans! Like peas, most beans like to grow up. They can do well when seeds are planted directly into warm soil with something to climb. Beans are for beginners because most varieties produce for weeks and weeks if they are picked. Give them full sun and plenty of water at the root.
Lettuce comes in so many varieties that you’re sure to find one that meets your growing and eating needs. When it’s very hot, most lettuce needs shade. Since they grow close to the ground, they’re perfect to plant in the shade cast by taller plants like tomatoes and beans.
A nutritional powerhouse that’s easy to love, spinach grows well in cool weather. If you want a lot, you have to plant a lot. Harvest it like lettuce, either by picking the largest leaves or by cutting all the leaves back to about one inch. If you choose the latter method, spinach will grow back several times throughout the season.
Start tomatoes indoors in February or March. Once they’re in the ground in a spot with full sun, many varieties will be extremely prolific. For a strong root system, plant the starters deeply, burying the stem up to the lowest leaves as the roots need to develop a strong foundation. As the plant grows, water regularly and expose it to plenty of sunshine. Trim and remove weak leaves and fruit as it grows to allow for ripened fruit and leaves to flourish.
Cucumbers are flexible in their growing environments and can grow in containers, raised
beds, rows, or hills. As long as there is warm weather, ample sunshine (6-8 hours per day), and lots of water, a cucumber will grow. One plant grows an abundance of cucumbers since they grow as bushes. Be sure to space the plants over two and a half feet apart if growing several plants in a row.
Farmer John thinks herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow from seed, but the most versatile is basil. It can be grown both indoors and out. Ensure that it gets plenty of light, at least 6 hours, natural or artificial, per day. Basil thrives in properly drained, nutrient packed soil and needs thinning maintenance at the early stages to ensure strong plant growth.
The selection available online for unique and delicious heirloom vegetables far surpasses anything found in supermarkets. And when you begin to harvest and enjoy nature’s bounty, you’ll be well pleased at the money you save, and the amazing food you grew from seed. So check out the estimated last spring frost in your area, and start your seeds…you’ll be very happy you did.
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