Summer means longer days with lots of room for projects and fun. We are hoping that one of the most rewarding (for your pocketbook, for your health, and for your family) might just be found in a garden this summer.
Mother Nature presents us with a diversity of excitement that teases our visual, olfactory, and auditory senses while inviting us to participate in a journey to explore the incalculable opportunities for enjoyment and relaxation. One of the easiest venues to begin the journey is vegetable gardening. This can provide you with an escape from your daily routine and give you the benefits of fresh nutritious foods for your table.
If you’re thinking that there isn’t enough space in your yard for a ‘veggie garden … or you reside in a condo complex … or you don’t own the essential tools… or it’s too late in the year to get started — read on. Whatever your lifestyle, there are always opportunities. Here are some practical ideas regarding veggie gardening, specifically, raised bed (RB) and container gardening (CG).
RB gardening is the art of creating a small planting area in the yard using wood or plastic that is typically 4 feet x 4 feet x 8 inches deep and filled with specific growing media. CG is planting in pots that require little space. Whether you use raise beds or containers, the planting media should consist of compost or humus, peat, and vermiculite all in equal parts. Some of the ‘big box stores’ sell RB kits at nominal costs. You can find plastic pots, ten to fifteen gallon size, at your local nursery for little or no cost.
There are a plethora of choices when thinking about what to plant. First, consider things that you and your family like to eat. Second, try to avoid those veggies that require large areas or specialized staking to develop properly. Next, find the plants that have a short growth session – that will make it the perfect timing for a late summer harvest. Lastly, think about veggies that will give you the best chance for success, especially if you are a beginner.
Here are some ideas for you to get started. You may find these to be easy and rewarding with an additional cost benefit to your budget. Patio/cherry tomatoes are juicy and sweet and a favorite for containers or beds. Roma tomatoes are fleshy and firm and are ideal for the sauce and paste makers. Green beans, bush varieties such as Kentucky Blue, are prolific producers and several can be sowed in a fifteen gallon pot. Easy-to-grow Sweet Bell peppers are green, orange, and red and are extremely versatile in recipes. All of these veggies can be harvested and consumed fresh or frozen for later use.
Leaf lettuce also requires little space in a container and is a favorite for dinner salads. These vegetables and some additions including broccoli, sweet corn, and cucumbers can be planted up to the end of June and still produce veggies in time for a late summer canning/freezing session. For those who enjoy cooking with fresh herbs, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, and basil can be grown in RBs and containers. All of the plants mentioned are available at the outdoor stores in your neighborhood.