You hear a lot of talk these days about how good vegetables are for you. The daily allowance is of five portions of fruit and veg today. But it costs a lot to buy fruit and veg at the supermarket. Despite all the guff about supermarkets being low cost places they still charge a lot for vegetables. It is not uncommon for a couple of lettuces to set you back over $1. You can get veg much cheaper if you go down to the market, but it can be out very cost effective to grow your own.
The following is a top 10 list of easy-to-grow vegetables and their recommended varieties.
1. Carrot. Plant seeds several times throughout the growing season, early spring into fall for a continuous harvest. Soil should be loose and deep. Varieties: ‘Nantes,’ ‘Chantenay,’ ‘Touchon,’ ‘Short n’ Sweet’.
2. Cucumber. Wait until warm weather to plant seeds. Varieties: ‘Sweet Success,’ ‘Fanfare,’ ‘Lemon’.
3. Green Beans. Plant seeds after frost danger. Bush types are easier to manage, but pole types are more productive in an equal space (because they’re taller). Varieties: ‘Blue Lake,’ ‘Contender,’, ‘Kentucky Wonder’.
4. Lettuce. Plant seeds as soon as soil can be worked -- hot weather ruins the plants. Varieties: ‘Black Seeded Simpson,’ ‘Buttercrunch,’ ‘Deer Tongue,’ ‘Nevada’.
5 Onion. Timing the planting of seeds or the miniature onion bulbs called sets can be tricky. Also consider mail-order onion seedlings. Check locally for availability.
6. Peas. Sow seeds early in spring as soon as you can work the soil. Varieties: ‘Alderman,’ ‘Sugar Snap,’ ‘Oregon Trail,’ ‘Super Sugar Mel’.
7. Radish. Sow seeds during the short, cool days of spring and fall. During these times, radishes are perhaps the easiest and fastest vegetable to grow. Varieties: ‘Cherry Belle’, ‘White Icicle,’ ‘Scarlet Globe’.
8. Summer Squash. Sow seeds after weather warms up. Grow bush types to save space. Varieties: ‘Sunburst,’ ‘Yellow Crookneck,’ ‘Scallopini’.
9. Sweet Pepper. Plant seedlings in warm weather along with tomatoes. Varieties: ‘Bell Boy,’ ‘California Wonder,’ ‘Sweet Banana,’ ‘Gypsy’.
10. Tomato. Set out seedlings after the air and soil have warmed up. Tomatoes come in countless varieties; among the best: ‘Celebrity,’ ‘Big Rainbow,’ ‘Brandywine,’ and ‘Enchantment’.
Tomatoes are one of those rare plants that actually benefit if seedlings are planted deeper than they grew in the nursery pot. Plants will be more anchored and sturdier, and roots will develop along the buried portion of the stem. Pinch off lower leaves once you plant.