Monday, April 30, 2012

Choosing Which Vegetables to Grow in Your Garden

One of my favorite parts of growing an organic vegetable garden at home is choosing which vegetables to plant. All winter long I thumb through seed catalogs, dog air the pages, and make lists of which veggies to grow on whatever scrap paper is handy.

Since I’ve been growing my own garden for so long, I have a list of staples that I grow every year like cucumbers, beans and tomatoes. If you’re new to gardening, you may not have your own list of staples yet or know which vegetables to grow.

Seeing as there are so many vegetables and varieties out there, the possibilities are endless. I have a few tips to make choosing a little easier for you.

Choose Vegetables that You Eat

If you take any of my advice about choosing which vegetables to grow, this would be the advice to follow. Grow veggies that you and your family eat; it’s that simple. Answer the following 3 questions to make a list of staples to grow in your garden.

  1. What vegetables are in your fridge right now?
  2. Which veggies do you and your family eat the most?
  3. Which vegetables do you spend the most money on at the grocery store?

Grow Vegetables with a Purpose

Why are you growing vegetables in your home garden? Are they for eating fresh, preserving or perhaps selling? Knowing the answer to this question will help you choose which vegetable varieties to grow.

I make bread-n-butter pickles every year, so I always plant a variety of pickling cucumbers. I grow beans to eat fresh and freeze etc. Since I know in advance what I’ll be doing with my veggies, it makes it easier for me to choose which varieties to grow and how many.

For the past few years I’ve experimented with different vegetables that I’ve never grown before. Last year it was garlic and this year it’s kohlrabi. I do this to see if the vegetables are worth growing to me. Can I dry it, can or freeze it besides eating it fresh? 

When I choose veggies to grow, I choose them because they serve a purpose for me. This method works for me because it helps keep me and my vegetable garden in check. During my first summer break from college I wanted to grow everything and anything - and I tried.

What happened was I didn’t have enough time or space to grow everything I had planted. I spaced my vegetables way to close which led to scraggly plants and poor production. I didn’t have enough time to work in my garden and the weeds quickly took over.

By the end of the summer I wasn’t happy with my garden but I learned a valuable lesson. Only plant what you eat and follow spacing and growing guidelines for a better crop. Sometimes less really is more.

What staples do you grow in your vegetable garden? Is there a veggie you’re dying to try growing this year? Why?

Image: winnond /

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