10 Easiest Vegetables to Grow At Home
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Gardening is hot, hot, hot. And why not? Planting a few seeds on your deck or in your backyard yields delicious, organic results – and money savings, too. Besides, April is National Gardening Month! You know the basics of how to start your own vegetable garden, but where do you go from here? Here are some crops that even the least green thumbed among you can tackle, and tips on how to make them flourish.
Originating in South America, this plump red herbaceous perennial is rich in nutrients like niacin, potassium and phosphorous, antioxidants like lycopene, anthocyanin and carotene, and vitamins A, C and E. Tomatoes can add a juicy shot of flavor to a variety of dishes, such as salads, sandwiches and pasta.
After the last frost of winter has thawed, pick a spot in your yard that receives ample sunlight and test the soil’s pH level – you want between 6 and 7. (To increase the Ph level, add lime. To decrease it, add sulfur.) Spread compost over this area and mix it with the soil. Dig a hole for each seed, leaving at least a foot in between for growth, cover them and firmly pat down the soil. Water them with a spray bottle a couple times per week.
Existing in shades of red, purple and white, these root vegetables were first cultivated thousands of years ago in Europe. Radishes are a great source of potassium, folic acid, magnesium and calcium, and are commonly used in salad dressings or as a garnish for salads.
Radishes thrive in soil with a pH level of around 6 or 7. Till a sunny patch in your garden and plant the seeds ½ inch below the soil’s surface with one inch of space between each. Water them lightly every couple days. Radishes are fast growers and should be ready to pull in several weeks. Don’t wait too long, or they’ll begin to deteriorate.
In the late 1800s, spontaneous mutations of summer squashes yielded the first zucchini in Italy. Typically shaped like a cucumber, this yellow or green vegetable is low in calories and chop full of potassium, folate and manganese. Zucchini can be boiled, fried or steamed as a tasty side or stuffed and baked as a delectable entrée.
In a mound of composted soil a foot high and a couple feet wide, sow several zucchini seeds. Space each mound approximately 3 feet apart, water them heavily every other day and wait for them to sprout in a couple weeks. They should be ready to harvest about a month later.
Evolving from wild plants in the Mediterranean, the beet, or beetroot, has a fleshy root that can be boiled and eaten plain, tossed in a salad or used to make borscht. Betaine, one of the primary nutrients in this deep red or purple vegetable, is known to improve cardiovascular health.
Clean and strengthen the seeds by soaking them in water at room temperature for a day. Plow the soil and remove any stones from the top 3 feet. Plant each seed 2 inches apart and water them at least once every day.
This biennial root vegetable was first domesticated during the 10th century in modern-day Afghanistan. Rich in vitamin A, antioxidants and dietary fiber, the carrot’s orange color is a result of the carotene it synthesizes when growing. Carrots are equally delicious as a healthy snack, in a side of steamed vegetables or even baked into a cake.