We’re in the depths of winter. Snow is falling outside my window as I type. Therefore, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about next summer’s vegetable garden.
Spend some time planning your garden now, and you’ll be able to jump into action when the weather is more accommodating. If you’re new to vegetable gardening, you’ll want to select plants that will provide you with some easy success so you’ll be motivated to continue developing your green thumb. Even if you’re an experienced gardener, you’ll still enjoy growing low-maintenance veggies.
Easiest Veggies to Grow:
Green bean seeds can be planted close together. I often space them just 5 to 6 inches apart. They grow well sown directly in the garden or in containers, and they grow fast, with sprouts pushing above the soil’s surface just a few days after planting. They are relatively disease-free, and the only pests that really want to eat them are rabbits, which can generally be kept out with some well-placed wire fencing.
I pick up a few tomato plants or seedlings from the local nursery every spring. These grow well planted directly in the garden, and I also like to buy varieties that are specifically developed for growing in containers. I like a nice mix of larger sandwich tomatoes and small cherry tomatoes that are perfect for sprinkling in salads. Tomatoes need a lot of water for good fruit development, but they are otherwise fairly easy to grow.
I’ve never grown traditional heads of lettuce like what the grocery stores stock. Instead, I plant leaf lettuces. They are fast-growing and low maintenance other than simply making sure they are well watered. I plant lettuce in large containers because the rabbits can’t get at it as easily. Leaf lettuces like cooler spring temperatures, and I typically pull them out of my container garden by mid to late June where I live in the Midwest. Leaf lettuce can be harvested, allowed to grow more, and harvested again, repeating the process until the weather turns hot the the lettuce begins to get bitter or goes to seed.
Like its close cousin leaf lettuce, spinach grows easily. I plant it alongside lettuce in my container garden, and I harvest both together, making fresh salads with a mixture of lettuce and spinach. Spinach also dislikes hot temperatures, and your plants are done once they begin flowering and going to seed.
This garden giant grows quickly and easily, and it needs a lot of space. There’s nothing like roasted or grilled zucchini slices with some seasonings or with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese. My family also likes zucchini bread or Zoodle-style zucchini noodle/pasta dishes.
Cucumbers are another easy garden veggie. They grow on climbing vines, so you’ll need to provide support in the form of a trellis or iron or chain-link fence. They also like a lot of water.
Radishes are a great springtime vegetable. They’re ready to harvest fairly early and add a nice mild bite to fresh salads.
What are you growing in your garden next spring and summer? Share your successes and challenges in the comments.