Backyard gardening is a great way to go green. But one trip down the gardening aisle or flip through the seed catalogue may convince you that gardening is way too complicated and expensive for a beginner. It’s not true! Gardening can be fun, cheap and easy when you choose low-fuss veggies to grow. Here are three easy to grow vegetables that are great for beginners.
Get Gardening With Three Easy Veggies
The ultimate in low-risk, high-reward gardening, growing garlic is almost as easy and straightforward as growing daffodils. Plant garlic cloves in the fall, then watch them do their own thing come spring and early summer. The only maintenance required is some watering, minimal weeding and snipping off the curly scapes in late spring to prevent flowering. When the green tops begin to die back, pull them up when six green leaves remain and marvel at how amazing fresh and juicy homegrown garlic tastes compared to store bought.
2. PotatoesAnother easy vegetable that produces a rewarding crop with minimal fuss. Drop some spuds with eyes that are starting to sprout into the ground in the spring, then cover the sprouts with soil when they pop up a week or two later. Water them regularly throughout the summer. That’s it! They’re ready to dig up when the green tops turn brown and die back. Potatoes are fun to harvest with kids, who usually squeal with delight every time the spade turns up another one. To me, new potatoes coming out of the ground feels like a miracle every time. The only challenging part about growing potatoes in the city is finding a large enough patch of ground or a couple of deep containers, since potato plants tend to be big. Some gardening stores carry sturdy plastic bags that you can use for your spuds on your patio or balcony.
3. Kale, Chard or Collard Greens
While home grown garden greens don’t usually have the dramatic difference in taste from store-bought greens like garlic does, the joy of being able to regularly harvest your own greens for dinner makes growing them worthwhile. The other big advantage of growing greens is that they produce well in cooler, shadier spaces and rainy weather, which we often have in abundance here on the west coast. Try planting kale, chard or collards in your semi-shaded borders and flower beds. Apart from regular watering and some compost, they don’t need any other maintenance except for picking leaves from the bottom of the stem towards the top so they continue to produce throughout the season (and often through the winter). Greens also do well in smaller containers, making them a great option for condo dwellers.
Gardening is a great way to get outside, teach kids about where their food comes from, produce things instead of consuming them and reconnect with the power of the earth. Most backyard hobby gardeners won’t be able to produce enough food to even make a dent in their family’s grocery shopping, but that’s okay! Even growing only 10 heads of garlic is still worth doing, especially when it’s so easy and tastes so good. And who knows? This year it may be a few cloves of garlic, next year it may be a whole community garden plot.
Garlic image credit: Chiot’s Run on Flickr.
Michelle Carchrae is often asking those important life questions: "who moved the scissors?", "how would you do that differently next time?" and "are you finished with the glitter glue?" Homeschooling two girls, ages 6 and 3, is her full time job. The rest of the time Michelle can be found blogging at The Parent Vortex, hiking in the forest or knitting and reading simultaneously. She recently published her first ebook, The Parenting Primer: A guide to positive parenting in the first six years, and moved to Bowen Island.