Do You Like Your Organic Veggies Cheap?
I know a lot of people who’d love to grow their own food, but strongly adhere to the following misperceptions:
- Growing food is hard
- I don’t have time
- I have a black thumb
- I don’t know what to grow
- I don’t have space
Let me just say, that I’m a firm believer that anyone can grow food. Yes, I mean you with the black thumb. You with no time. You who hates to get dirt under your nails. And I’m also a firm believer that once you have luck growing the easy vegetables, you’ll want to live in overalls and quit your day job to farm 24-7. Well, maybe that’s hyperbole, but I’m still betting you’ll love it.
For reluctant gardeners (or kid-focused fun), I recommend growing the following three vegetables first.
They are mostly pest resistant, so you won’t need to use any pesticides to protect your foods. Once you have success here, you can try your gardening gloves at other veggies.
Tomatoes are a great plant to start with because come spring, they are cheap and easy to find in just about every home and garden center, already 4-6 inches tall with nice thick stalks and roots. Tomatoes grow just as well in the ground as in potting soil, making them a perfect veggie for container garden or those pots on your patio. Tomatoes are heavy feeders, and you’ll have more luck if you give them a little boost of fertilizer every week. Remember, flowers produce food, so if your plants aren’t flowering, you won’t have any food. If they aren’t flowering, they probably need fertilizer.
Cucumbers are also very easy to grow. I’d suggest starting with a bush variety of cucumber so you don’t need to worry about staking or trellising the plant. You can direct seed them into soil or purchase starter plants. Check your plants often once the cucumbers start growing. You’d be surprised how fast they go from pinky-sized to table-ready slicers. With bush varieties the cucumbers will likely be laying on the ground (not hanging) so you’ll need to harvest those before little creatures decide to eat them first.
And Yes...Try Zucchini.
Admittedly, zucchini is going to take a bit of space, so these aren’t great for container gardening. There are a few compact varieties, but from experience even those require quite a bit of space. I plant zucchini and summer squash every year, and never had a bummer year. You can also direct seed zucchini or plant starter plants from a nursery. Seeds typically germinate very quickly and the plants grow fast.
Herbs are also very easy to grow in pots and are pretty forgiving if you forget to water them regularly. Basil, rosemary, oregano and thyme are my standard potted herbs. These are also great additions to your tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini.
Regardless of what you plant, remember that the three main things to successful gardening are adequate access to sunlight, enough water (wet but not soaking soil), and space. Crowding your plants encourages more pests, and the threat of mildew and the spread of funguses. Enjoy the harvest!
(Pretty soon we will all be pulling advanced gardening moves like lil' Maria and her rhubarb.)