How Does Your Garden Grow?
One of my fondest childhood memories growing up with my grandmother on her small farm in the tropics is seeing rows of carrots, lettuce, beans, corn, melons, sorrel, peppers, sweet potatoes, and fresh green herbs.
I remember evenings sitting around shelling peas and beans and listening to stories; and the pride of tending my very own tomato patch and watching them grow and ripen before my eyes.
Whether you are a budding garden enthusiast or a “newbie”, growing your own vegetables reaps many rewards:
- Reduce/supplement your grocery bill
- A sense of accomplishment
- Stock up your pantry with fresh preserves
- Go organic: eat what you grow, grow what you eat.
The secret to good gardening and a great harvest is knowing when to plant, what to plant and where to plant: Here is a basic guide:
Cooler Climate (Spring through Fall)
- Collard Greens, etc.
Warmer Climate: (Summer)
- Summer Squash/Zucchini
- Sweet Potatoes
- Eggplants, etc.
Space Savers: If you have a small backyard or limited space around the house, don’t be discouraged, there are lots of ideas you can consider to get the most out of your garden.
- Utilize fences and trellises for vine plants such as spinach, cucumbers, beans, etc.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle unused containers such as cans, drums, shelves, baskets, bottles, tires, etc.
- Vacant balconies, rooftops and window sills make great garden spaces.
So let’s get started on some of our favorite vegetables!
- Tantalizing Tomatoes: Think Soup, Salad, Salsa, Fiesta!
Tomatoes are a lovely addition to any garden, they come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. From plum, cherry, grape, heirloom, the possibilities are endless for a bountiful harvest.
- Tomato plants are very tender and need extra support to help keep them erect. Stakes, trellises or cages are ideal for added sturdiness.
- Growing them in pots or baskets keep the fruit away from soil and keep them clean.
- For a greater yield, trim/pinch extra tiny tomato shoots away from the branches, as they tend to zap energy and nutrients away from growing fruit.
- Be careful not to over saturate the soil.
- Cool Cucumbers: (Pickling or Slicing)
Cucumbers are super easy to grow. You can literally water them and leave them! They can grow in soil or, better yet, on trellises to save space in tiny gardens.
- For growing in beds, they will need lots of space, as the vines spread rather rapidly.
- If you grow them on a trellis, train the vines from early to form around the trellis and just let them blossom.
- Container cucumbers will need extra water as the soil tends to dry out quicker.
- Looking at Lettuce
With a little care and attention, you can have lettuce on your table in as little as 4 weeks! From curly to straight, to green to purple, they are the perfect complement to any salad:
- Plant them in cans, tires, ½ drums, etc.
- They tend to attract weeds and pests, so it may be better to keep them in a shaded area and water them often.
- Bountiful Beans
Butter beans, runner beans, yard long beans, string beans, are just a few that can easily grow with little effort in your garden.
Beans can grow on trellises, stalks or on bushes.
- Water them occasionally to keep the soil moist
- The more you harvest, the more they will continue to bear fruit!
- To keep pests at bay, weed areas around the beans often
- Shell the mature beans and use either fresh or dried
- Pickle your Peppers and spice it Up
Brighten up your garden with an array of peppers: oranges, greens, yellow, reds, mild, spicy, or spitfire hot; show your green thumbs what you’ve got!
- Young trees need extra support to stay upright
- They thrive in sunny areas and moist soil
- They can grow in soil or in containers
Since there are so many varieties and sizes of peppers, their ripening period will vary depending on the conditions in which they grow. Bell/sweet pepper varieties can take longer to grow, especially in hotter climates. However, the fruit tends to ripen quickly during the cooler evening/night period.
- Pleased as Pumpkins
Can you imagine a garden without pumpkins? Pumpkins are another easy crop to grow, especially for new gardeners. They thrive in moist conditions and need lots of the sunshine and good soil.
- Pumpkin vines grow rather quickly, so control the vines early by training them to grow on the periphery of the garden so that they do not overtake the whole garden space.
- They need lots of water or the leaves will droop in hot weather. Water the plants in the cooler part of the morning before the sun gets too hot.
- Courting Carrots
Carrots thrive in the shade as well as in direct sunlight. Because of their root system, they need deep soil in order to grow well. You can plant them in soil or in containers.
- Weed around plants often
- Keep the soil loose and remove all stones so that roots can expand
- Mulching is a great way to help retain moisture around plants
- Water at least once per week or if the soil dries out.
- Crunch that Corn
Corn is a good addition to the garden as well as your table. For beginners, it may be best to start small, and gradually increase your crop size with experience or confidence. In spite of this, corn is relatively easy to grow and sustain.
- Corn needs lots of space to expand
- Water is essential, especially in dry weather
With a little imagination, lots of enthusiasm and effort, you can enjoy the bountiful harvest of homegrown produce straight from your own garden.