With all the interest in healthier eating, many people want to grow fruits and vegetables in their own backyards. Having your own supply at your fingertips can help you save money and increase your cooking options; you can also make tending your garden into a family activity. Although it may sound daunting, starting your own garden isn’t that difficult.
Here are some good vegetable and fruit selections for the first-time backyard gardener.
Growing your own salad greens like lettuce, spinach, arugula, mustard green, or kale doesn’t require a garden plot; you can grow a nice selection of greens in containers, pots, or window boxes, too. Using a quality potting mix is important. Greens grow well from seeds, and many garden shops offer seeds with a mix of greens for variety. Most will require some fertilizer when the plants are 4-6 inches tall. Since these are rapid-growing plants, you can often start harvesting leaves a few weeks after planting. Salad green plants can produce from spring until fall, giving your tasty salads for most of the year.
New gardeners love tomatoes, but they’re popular with gardeners in many places where the citizens are health-conscious like Rancho Mission Viejo. There are many versions of slicing tomatoes and cherry tomatoes to choose from. Tomato plants can grow in containers like salad greens or in your yard but do need full sunlight and plenty of water. Seeds or transplants both can be used to start your tomatoes; as they grow, fertilizer, mulching, and staking can help your tomatoes reach their potential.
To control the plant growth and lower the risk of fungus, you’ll need to prune lower leaves and branches. The ripe tomatoes should be harvested twice a week during warm weather.
A less common choice for your first garden would be the radish. These root vegetables are easy to grow and grow very fast in a few weeks. These can grow in containers or in a garden plot; however, they do thrive in cool seasons so you should plant them in the spring and fall. A lot of sunlight is key for these plants. Without it, they’ll grow bigger leaves and fewer vegetables. Radishes will deteriorate if they’re harvested in a timely fashion; you can also take the radish greens for salads, as well.
Green beans are also popular for the first-time gardener. Some beans grow as vines and will need a support system while others may grow as a bush. Green beans also grow during the warm months and need full sunlight and significant amounts of water. When the plants bloom, there will be bees and other insects to help with the pollination. During this time, you should avoid using too much pesticide that might interfere with this process. Green beans can be harvested between 50 and 80 days after planting.
Another fruit that can work for the home gardener is the strawberry. These are spreading plants that send out runners that can take up a lot of space. However, you can grow them in confined spaces like hanging containers, boxes, or pots. No matter where you plant them, you have to make sure they can get full sunlight. If you use a portable container, you can move the plant around to maximize sun exposure or protect from harsh weather. Strawberry plants can produce fruit for several years.
Safe choices for your first garden are herbs like basil, rosemary, coriander, or dill. Many herbs are easy to grow and can be used in a number of dishes and even with your new vegetables. Herbs can be grown in pots, containers, or in your garden plot. Most herbs need to be in areas with good drainage because they don’t grow well in wet soil. You can plant several types of herbs in the same garden; however, some like mint will overgrow your garden.
Of course, your location will influence what items you can grow. But if you take care of your growing garden – no matter your location – you can be eating as well as any community. To improve your health and give your kitchen a kick, start your own garden.