One of the biggest perks of the spring and summer seasons is enjoying the fruits of your labor if you plant and maintain a garden. Having a garden requires a fair amount of upkeep, but those hours are well-spent, as it not only adds beauty to your home’s outdoor areas, but it can also provide you and your family with delicious fruits and vegetables throughout most of the year.
If you already have a garden or are thinking about planting one on your property, consider adding some of these plants to your plot to get fresh produce on a regular basis without making a trip to the grocery store.
Tomato plants are one of the most popular and common additions to home gardens for good reason—they’re easy to grow and produce a delicious fruit that is extremely versatile as an ingredient, a snack, and a topping for sandwiches and burgers. Some of the best varieties to grow include “Better Boy,” Celebrity,” and “Brandywine,” as all three produce disease-resistant, juicy, and sweet fruits that taste great in the spring and summer.
You also may want to add small fruit-sized tomatoes for even easier snacking and to easily toss into salads without any required cutting or chopping. Bite-size tomatoes come in several different varieties and colors, with some of the most popular seed types including “Yellow Pear,” “Super Sweet 100,” and “Juliet.”
Adding just a few cucumber plants to your garden will provide your family with a huge harvest of a tasty vegetable that can be eaten as a snack, as part of an appetizer plate, or in salads. Cucumbers are easy to grow and thrive well in a variety of conditions, including dry heat in the summertime. In fact, they tend to grow so easily that they can quickly overtake your garden. Wrangle their vines by using a post or trellis to keep the plant growth under control.
Some of the most popular seed types for cucumber plants include “Marketmore 76” and “Salad Bush.” Late spring is the best time to plant cucumbers, so take advantage of this window of opportunity to enjoy their delicious fruits in just a few months’ time.
An extremely versatile and common herb, basil is an ingredient found in a huge variety of popular recipes and meals. It’s commonly added to sauces and soups to create a spicy and tangy flavor and can change an ordinary recipe into something truly memorable. Basil also happens to be one of the easiest plants to grow in a garden and is perfect for amateur or beginner gardeners.
Because basil plants are relatively small and won’t take up much room in your garden, experiment with several different varieties to find a flavor you like. Popular seed types include “Genovese,” “Sweet Thai,” a seed that produces an authentic Thai flavor, and “Mrs. Burn’ Lemon,” a seed that produces a sweet and tangy lemon basil flavor.
Beans are another easy-to-grow plant that thrive in just about any garden with minimal interference. Some of the best beans to add to your garden include navy beans, great northern beans, and kidney beans due to their flavor and nutritional value.
When growing beans, place them in containers and space them at least four inches apart. Harvesting beans at the right time requires practice and experience, and is best done when the pods have completely dried on the vine. Make sure that the pods are light brown—then, let the beans sit out for a few days to completely dry before storing them in a cool and dry place.
Carrots are among the healthiest plants you can include in your garden. They’re packed with fiber, manganese, niacin, potassium, and a whole host of vitamins that might be missing from your diet. In addition, they tend to taste the best when freshly pulled from the ground—and that means you’ll likely never have carrots better than ones that you grow yourself.
Like beans, grow carrots in containers and keep the seeds at least two to three inches apart. Shorter varieties of carrots tend to do better in gardens—especially if you haven’t yet developed your green thumb—so look for seed types like “Thumbelina” and “Danver’s Half Long.” Avoid letting your carrots grow for too long, as they taste best when harvested at a smaller size.
Not to be outdone by the nutritional value of carrots, broccoli is one of the world’s most popular superfoods and is a staple of many home gardens for good reason. It’s high in essential nutrients like calcium, iron, and magnesium, and a single serving of raw broccoli provides well over a day’s requirement of vitamin C.
Growing broccoli is best accomplished with one plant per pot planted 12 to 16 inches deep. However, beware of pests that can damage your broccoli plants, including the cabbage worm. To avoid having your broccoli stolen by these pesky critters, keep a close eye on your plants and check for butterflies that hover near them. If you see them, you may have uninvited guests on your broccoli. Use a lightweight cloth to protect them and remove any pests with your hand before its time to harvest.
Many people develop a dislike for peas as children, but there’s a world of difference between peas that come from a can and peas that come from your own garden. Fresh peas straight from the vine are sweet and tender and highly nutritious to boot. Like broccoli and carrots, peas pack a punch when it comes to providing minerals and vitamins, and they make the perfect additions to meals for growing families.
When growing peas, separate the plants by at least two inches in a pot that’s 10 inches deep. It’s best to grow peas in the early spring after the last frost and during the late summer as the temperatures begin to drop, as the plant struggles to thrive in hot weather.
Whether it’s eaten as the primary ingredient in a salad or used to complement a meal, spinach has a huge variety of uses in your kitchen. Like every other plant on this list, it also tastes best when eaten fresh from a garden. Plant it as a hedge to encompass your garden in the late summer and harvest it in the fall for maximum freshness and taste. Some of the most popular varieties of spinach include “Olympia” and “Verdil.”