Once you have decided whether you are growing vegetables from seed, plants, or some of each, you will then want to decide what you want to grow. Naturally, for your first project you will want to make it easy on yourself. Some of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed are:
- Squash (including pumpkins)
- Lima, Yellow or Green Beans
These are all easy fruits and vegetables to grow. As we all have been told hundreds of times since childhood, tomatoes are a fruit and not a vegetable but since they are treated and eaten as a vegetable, that is what I shall be calling them for the remainder of this article.
Tomato plants will give you high yield for the size of the plant and space required. Not only that, but they are also easy to grow, harvest, and can. We will talk about preserving vegetables for use throughout the year in a later article. Suffice to say, that tomatoes are easy to can using a hot water bath and freeze just as nicely.
When you’re growing vegetables from seed you can find seed packets everywhere starting from early spring or a seed supplier online year round. If you live in a four season climate, chances are that you will be able to grow all of the above and more, but that list contains some of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed.
Of course, if you plan to grow all of these vegetables, you will need a sizable garden. You can choose the vegetables that your family eats most of all of the time and grow them.
You should also consider storage before you even begin planting. Growing lettuce, for example, is great for salads and relatively easy to do, but it does not freeze or preserve. Turnips, carrots, onions and potatoes will keep well in a root cellar and will store for the winter. If you do not have a root cellar, you can make one (I’ll cover that in a future article). It isn’t difficult and just takes a bid of digging and keeping an area water proof. If you have your own root cellar, you’re already ahead of the game.
The worst thing that you can do when you are starting your own garden, is to get overwhelmed by too much variety. Think of the vegetables that you buy often, or would like to buy often, and plant those in your garden. As for me, I chose the all of the root vegetables every year plus tomatoes, peppers, pickling cucumbers and broccoli. Some years I like to try my hand at squash, corn and a novelty (like Okra) along with the vegetables I grew last year. I grow several vegetables from seeds harvested the year prior.
Start out with a few vegetables that you eat often and each year, add a new vegetable to your garden. By growing the vegetables that you use often, you can save a lot of money every month on your food bill. The amount of money that you save each month will depend on how large the garden and how many vegetables your family eats. Remember that you will be saving some of them, in various ways, to use for the winter months spring before the next harvest. And if you plan on growing vegetables from seed next year you can use some of this year’s harvest in your planning.
Space is a factor when you are planning your vegetable garden. Some vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, do not require a lot of room for growth. Root vegetables are also easy to grow as they grow down into the ground and do not take up a lot of room. Corn and squash take a lot more space so you may have to clear more room for them.
Another factor that you have to consider when you are growing vegetables to save money is that they may not look like those you see in the store. Many vegetables that are grown for mass production are aided with food dyes and waxed so that they look more attractive to consumers. Your home grown vegetables are not likely to be as large, or as colorful, as the vegetables that you grow in the store. But they will be organic and healthier. And when it comes to taste, they will taste better than those that you purchase at the grocery store.
Once you have established the varieties that you are growing, you must then learn the planting and harvesting times for each. Most vegetables are planted in the early to late spring, after the weather breaks and frost is unlikely.
Harvest time for most vegetables comes in early to late summer to early fall, depending on the vegetables. Tomatoes, for example, will be harvested early and may bear fruit until the first kiss of winter. As will peppers and cucumbers and some squash, as zucchini. Other vegetables are harvested a bit later and you may even get two successive plantings out of them. These include the root vegetables. Usually, the longer you can keep them in the ground, the better. When the leaves start to get brittle, it is time to dig them up.
Corn and squash are autumn harvest, such as pumpkins and butternut squash. Lettuce and eggplants are harvested in late summer and early autumn.
So much of all this planning on growing vegetables from seed will depend on the region where you live. In some areas of North America you can get corn out of your vegetable garden in August. Tomatoes are usually harvested from July to August, but can be later in some parts of the country, especially in warmer weather. There are different rules for harvesting on the East Coast than there are in the Midwest regions of the country. Here is a list of when you can (roughly) expect to harvest the most common vegetables:
|Tomatoes||Harvest in early summer to late summer (July and August).|
|Peppers||Harvest in mid summer to early autumn (Late July to September)|
|Cucumbers||Harvest in mid summer to early autumn (Late July to September)|
|Onions||Harvest in mid to late summer (August to early September)|
|Eggplant||Harvest in mid summer to late summer (Late July to August)|
|Potatoes||Harvest in early autumn to late autumn (September to early October)|
|Lettuce||Harvest in Late summer (August to early September)|
|Squash||Harvest in early to late autumn (late September to mid October)|
|Turnips||Harvest in mid autumn (September)|
|Carrots||Harvest in mid autumn (September)|
|Lima Beans||Harvest in mid summer (August)|
|Corn||Harvest in late August (in some areas) to September|
|Broccoli||Harvest in mid to late summer (August to early September)|