Let me tell you about my failure as a first-time gardener. When I started dreaming up my first vegetable garden, it was overflowing with an abundance of colorful produce, everything was thriving, and we were harvesting vegetables by the bucketful. The reality of my first garden was a much different story.
I planted at least 20 different types of vegetables and fruits with no consideration of their individual needs. I tried growing watermelon in a 2-foot space in partial sun. I planted tomatoes halfway through the season. I even attempted to grow asparagus in pots! Obviously my overzealous attitude did not help me to achieve horticultural greatness as I had planned. Every aspect of the garden crumbled and failed that year, and the year after, I went back to basics.
There’s something to be said for starting at the beginning. Developing a green thumb takes time and experience, and starting with simple, easy-to-grow garden crops is your key to success. For those of you who are first-time gardeners, the following plants will surely give you great success.
When we plant lettuce, we just sprinkle the seeds onto the bed, water, and leave them be. A week later there are tiny sprouts popping out of the soil and a few weeks after that, salad greens! The incredible speed at which you can grow leafy greens makes them a perfect crop for first-timers. The only trick to planting lettuce is to stagger planting bi-weekly, so you don't have lettuce coming out of your ears come harvest time, then nothing for the rest of the season. Lettuce is so easy, you don’t even have to fertilize! The only thing you'll need to do for your leafy greens throughout the season is to thin out seedlings as they grow to make space for more. Thinning out is easy when you can eat what you cut as micro greens in a tasty salad.
There's a reason every office break room is overflowing with zucchini bread come August. You can practically watch these babies grow before your eyes and they are masters of production. One zucchini plant will provide enough produce for your entire family, and even some to share with neighbors! All you need to do to find success with this garden giant is to plant in full sun, water consistently at the ground level, and keep an eye out for pests like slugs and snails.
Remember the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk and how the beanstalk grew to epic proportions overnight? Although it's exaggerated, that tale has some truth to it. You'll be shocked how fast beans grow and the instant gratification from your success will quickly make them one of your favorite garden crops.
There's another reason beans are great for beginners: they can grow in practically any conditions. Many vegetable plants have very specific nutrient needs -- this is not the case with beans. They don't need rich soil or specific fertilizers to thrive. In fact, beans are nitrogen fixing plants, so they add nitrogen to the soil as they grow. Supplementing and fertilizing your garden is a pain, and any time you can avoid it as a beginner will simplify your life.
The great thing about the radish is there’s a very short span of time between putting the seed in the soil and pulling out a beautiful red bulbous root. They take practically no care to grow, just as long as you space the seeds correctly and water consistently. Radishes are also not prone to getting many diseases or pest problems, which makes them an extraordinarily simple crop. They are so easy to grow, you can even do it in a window box!
Have you ever bought a bag of potatoes from the grocery store and forgotten about them in your cupboard, only to find them sprouting and growing like crazy in the bag? If you can grow potatoes in your kitchen cupboard, you can certainly find success in the garden.
Potatoes are our favorite crop to grow in the city because we have terrible soil and partial sun, but they grow anyway. These delightful crops will grow in practically any soil, don't need any specific nutrients to thrive, and you can harvest an abundance of potatoes from only one measly plant. To make your potato harvest even more fruitful, you can grow potatoes in a container that will allow you to fill soil in around the potato stalks as they grow. This makes it easy to grow potatoes in any location, even a backyard in the city.
So there you have it, five super easy vegetables that any gardener can find success with, no matter how green the thumb. You don't need a masters degree in horticulture to grow these garden crops, and after you find success with these, you can broaden your horizons next year!
Come back to the Bluprint blog tomorrow to learn tips for mixing food and vegetables in the garden.
What garden crops would you add to this list? Which varieties have you had success with as a beginner?
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