A few years ago, I started a community garden. As luck would have it, I had many beginning gardeners who had no tools along with no idea on how to start a vegetable garden. While the garden construction was easy, we used raised beds; the choice of plant material was a different matter. Below are five of the easiest vegetable plants to grow for beginner and master gardeners alike. They can without doubt be grown in containers along with traditional in the ground gardening. The key to success though is proper site selection, and basic plant care.
The first vegetable on this list is the favorite tomato. Before we get to learning how to grow this plant, we need to know that there are two different types of tomatoes. The first one is what is referred to as an indeterminate. What this means is first you will need to stake the plant. Second, this type of tomato will produce all season compared to the determinate type. The easiest way to think of a determinate tomato is a cherry tomato variety. This type of tomato grows a determined height, blooms all at one time and produces at one time. Once all the fruit has ripened, the plant is done. While it will continue to grow, it will not bloom or fruit again.
Now that you know the basic types of tomato plants out there, let’s talk about what you will need. If you want to grow your tomatoes in a container and/or you do not want to stake, go for the determinate tomato varieties. If staking is not a problem, purchase the indeterminate type.
Once you have your plants you are ready to begin planting. The key to success when it comes to this vegetable is to make sure that it is planted in well draining soil that is located in full sun. Also, make sure to plant your tomatoes deep and when I say deep I mean that only three to five leaves should be above the soil. When doing this, you can either plant them straight down or in a “j” or “trench” format.
Peppers are another easy vegetable to grow. The key to growing this vegetable comes from the amount of sun this plant receives. Peppers are what I call the sun bathers of the vegetable world. They love the sun and the more the better. What I mean by this is if you can intensify the sun’s rays on this plant then you will produce more peppers. While this may sound complicated, it really is not.
The easiest thing to do is to lay down aluminum foil mulch around the peppers. Yes, I said aluminum foil. You know the kind you have in the kitchen. The simplest way of doing this is to treat the foil like landscape cloth. Roll out the aluminum foil, secure it to the ground, and cut out an “x” for each pepper plant you may have. Open up this “x,” dig a hole and plant your pepper. Close up the “x” to get the most reflection possible back onto the plant.
Regardless if you planted your peppers in a container or in a traditional garden there is one thing you will need to do to take advantage of the technique described above. You will need to clean off the aluminum foil with water often to continue to maximize the sun.
There are several different ways of planting potatoes but if you are an urban gardener the best way is in a container. The reason for this is the fact that potatoes need space and this extra space could be used to grow other vegetables.
Planting potatoes in a container starts with cutting the potatoes about two days before you plan on planting. You will need two inch pieces with one to two eyes. Set out the cut potatoes in a little sun to get them to start sprouting and to form a scab.
Once planting time has arrived, cover the bottom of your deep container with at least a two inch layer of well seasoned compost. Next, place your cut potatoes in a single layer and top with soil. As you begin to see leaves appear, add more soil on top until your container is filled. Utilizing the additional soil method will force the plant to produce a longer taproot. This taproot will have lateral roots, which can produce more potatoes.
Green onions are onion sets that are plant deep so that the stem of the onion is white. If you want to grow onions for winter storage, you will only want to plant them one inch down. Having said that though if you want green onions then plant them at least two inches deep.
This vegetable can be planted in a deep container or garden space. The key is to make sure that the onions are planted in full sun with a well draining soil.
As with the potatoes, zucchini can take up a lot of space but the bush variety is more conducive to container or urban gardening. Regardless if you are going to garden in a pot or land, the planting process starts off with preparing the soil. If gardening in a container, clean and sterilize the pot. Once dried, add drainage material and fill with an all purpose potting medium.
On the other hand, if you are gardening in the ground, the first step is to remove any unwanted plant material and loosen the soil. Smooth the soil surface over. To keep your rows straight, push a stake into each end of your row. Run a string between these stakes. Now you are ready to plant.
Now, you are going to create mounds of soil that are three feet apart if you are gardening in the ground. In a container, simply make one mound. Once that is done, make six holes with your finger that are one inch deep and plant a seed per hole. Cover with soil. Water the soil until it is evenly moist. Monitor soil moisture and water as needed.
Once seeds have germinated and the seedlings have a few leaves, remove all of them except two per mound. Add organic mulch to the garden space regardless of what planting technique you pick. This will help keep the soil moist and aid in weed control.
As you can see, there are vegetables that even a brown thumb gardener can grow with a little effort and knowledge as long as they are planted in a sunny location with well draining soil.