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April 10, 2011 at 1:00 PMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Top 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow at Home

By Helen More Blogs by This Author

Growing vegetables at home sets the stage for better nutrition, more exercise and fresh air, and a healthy appreciation of Mother Earth. But be prepared: Gardening is addictive! Start on a small scale, and work your way up. Apartment dwellers may only have a balcony, and townhouses may only have a small back yard, but both can be turned into high-yield gardens.

Growing Vegetables

If you have enough yard space, measure out a garden plot that is about 10 x 10 feet. Till up the soil until all lumps have been removed. Then, cover the garden with compost and till that in as well. Plant crops in rows with enough space between for ease in weeding and harvesting.

If growing vegetables in containers, choose containers that are at least eight inches deep, 10 to 12 inches wide, and have drainage holes in the bottom. A gallon-size plastic milk container will hold one pepper plant, as will a large coffee can. Some vegetables will require more space. Keep in mind that metal cans will rust and leave rust rings on the patio. To avoid rust stains, either use old plates or large plastic lids beneath each can. Lids should have a lip and be at least two inches larger. Make sure drainage holes are punched into the bottom of the containers before planting.

Vegetables grow well in soil that is half compost and half soil. If using compost, the plant will not require additional fertilizer.

#1. Cabbage


Soil Type Preference: Sandy, Loamy

Soil Ph Preference: Neutral

Harvest Time: 70 Days

A full-grown cabbage will require a space of about two feet. Use a pot that is about eight to ten inches deep and about 18 inches wide. Watch for white cabbage moths; eradicate the cabbage moth by spraying the leaves and head of the cabbage with garlic water or water that has been saturated with cayenne pepper. Cabbage likes to be moist during the growing season. For a much needed nitrogen boost about midsummer, mulch the pot with clean grass (grass that has not been chemically treated).

#2. Cucumbers


Soil Type Preference: Loamy

Soil Ph Preference: Neutral

Harvest Time: 65 Days

Ideally, cucumber seeds are planted in a mound, but when container gardening, a mound is not necessary. Instead, make a small hole every 10 inches in the soil with your finger, and drop two or three seeds into each hole to a depth of about 1/2 inch. Cucumbers will climb, but because the fruit is heavy, a sturdy trellis is required. A good way to get around this is to use an existing trellis or railing. Place the pot or flowerbox against a stair railing or a fence. With a little bit of guidance, the vines will soon cover the fence with greenery, followed by bright yellow flowers. Each flower will yield one cucumber. A healthy cucumber plant can offer a harvest of up to 100 pounds or more.

#3. Peppers


Soil Type Preference: Loamy

Soil Ph Preference: Neutral

Harvest Time: 60-90 Days

Peppers come in so many varieties - the hardest part about growing them is deciding which type you like best. Since all peppers are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants, you can't go wrong with either a sweet or a spicy hot variety. Both do well in containers and are easy to grow.

Plant the seeds or seedlings and give them plenty of sun and water. Because mature pepper plants can be brittle, use pruning shears to snip the vegetable off the stem. If you want two varieties from one plant, grow bell peppers. A green bell pepper is sweet, but it is not ripe. Pick a few green peppers, but allow the remainder to stay on the plant and turn red. Both the color and the taste will change.

#4. Potatoes


Soil Type Preference: Sandy

Soil Ph Preference: Acidic

Harvest Time: 90 Days

Potatoes grow from seed potatoes. A seed potato is a potato that has begun to sprout or grow "eyes" on it. Cut the seed potato into wedges, making sure each wedge has at least one eye. Plant each wedge to a depth of four inches. Cover the potato, and pat down the earth. When the plant reaches about six inches, carefully hill the dirt around the plant.

When the plant begins to dry out, the potatoes are ready for harvesting. A burlap bag makes an excellent container for growing potatoes. Fill the bag about one fourth of the way and place it in the spot it will remain until harvest. Plant the potato wedge, but leave the top of the bag open. Once the potato sprouts, carefully hill the dirt around the sprout, then tie the bag loosely around the plant. Moving the bag again will disrupt the roots and spout and may kill the plant.

#5. Tomatoes


Soil Type Preference: Loamy

Soil Ph Preference: Acidic

Harvest Time: 70 Days

Tomatoes require plenty of sunlight, ample drainage, and a good soaking every other day, more often in hot weather. Water the plants from the bottom to avoid leaf rot, and keep on the lookout for tomato worms. Use large containers, and plant one tomato per container. Because tomatoes tend to get leggy, place a tomato cage over the plant. The cage will keep the tomato secure and allow for more tomato plants per inch.

What are YOU growing this year? Any tips to share?

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2 Comments

  • I agree Helen, gardening is addictive. I started a garden in my backyard thinking I'd have just a few raised beds with tomatoes and peppers. It escalated to 8 raised beds with a 6 ft fence to keep the critters out and a yield that could feed the whole neighborhood.

  • one things for sure - you can make sure it's an organic garden if you grow your own!

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