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For beginning gardeners, choosing the right vegetables to grow can be the difference between the formation of a wonderful, healthy new hobby and utter disappointment. Obviously, when we go to the trouble of prepping a garden bed, planting seeds, watering, and weeding, we want some delicious results to stem from the effort.
The good news is that there are lots of plants—cucumbers, summer squash, green beans—that are easy to grow and provide abundant harvests. Plant these, and that first garden is likely to spur a second one next year. However, other plants can be exceptionally difficult to grow in a home garden.
Each vegetable plant has its own little foibles and foils. Some of them have more than others. For that first garden, it’s worth choosing from the list of vegetables that set you up for success rather than a challenge. In short, the following vegetables—at least when planting from seed—might be worth avoiding.
Source: Garden Variety Harvests/YouTube
Carrot seeds are tiny and have a poor germination rate, and being a root vegetable means that it doesn’t like to be transplanted. So, what ends up happening is that tons of little seeds are spread about in the garden. Then, either very few germinate, leaving big gaps in the garden, or far too many do, requiring tedious thinning (pulling out young plants) to leave enough room for the remaining plants to grow into carrots big enough to eat. Plus, the soil has to be very specifically conditioned, with no stones and very loose.
Unfortunately, cauliflower, which has become wildly popular of late, is one of the more uncooperative vegetables in the garden. Unlike broccoli, a fan of cold weather, cauliflower doesn’t tolerate freezing temperatures. However, like all the brassicas, it’s also not a fan of hot weather. And, it wants at least six hours of sun a day. Then, the heads—should they form—need to be blanched to be lovely and white.
Celery is a notoriously difficult crop to grow. First of all, it has very finicky climate requirements, which basically amount to cool all the time, not cold (above 50 degrees) and not hot (below75 degrees). This problem is exacerbated by the fact that it has a long growing season, in the four- to five-month range. Also, the soil needs to be moist at all times. Most US climates just don’t suit this.
Eggplants like the summer and the sunlight, so in that way, they are agreeable plants for most gardeners. However, they are horribly susceptible to pest problems, particularly insects. It can be very challenging to get from eggplant as a seedling to eggplant as a vegetable on the table. The bugs just devour them. For those of us looking to grow organically, as well as not kill insects…argh! It just tastes so good!
Melons, as with other members of the squash family, require unquestionably warm soils to thrive, and they like a lot of sunshine. They also take up a lot of space, as much as many people’s entire raised bed (4 X 8 is big enough for one melon plant). Then, they are particular about getting enough water, suffering through too many cloudy days, or any number of pests/diseases. Plus, being a big fruit, they have a long growing season.
Source: Garden Variety Harvests/YouTube
Most gardeners don’t even bother planting onions from seed. They buy “sets”, little baby onions, to plant. Sets work well when growing green onions, a notably easier goal than bulbs. For bulb onions, there are extremely specific daylight requirements that mean getting something akin to a shallot versus a full-sized onion. The smallest mistake here makes a massive difference.
Sweet peppers are difficult to grow from seed because they take a long time to get from that state to a mature pepper. And, green peppers are not mature sweet peppers. For this reason, these plants usually need to be up and going by the time the soil is warm enough for them to grow. Sweet peppers like to hit their stride in early, just before the frost kills them off. In short, spring for the price of seedlings rather than seeds on this one.
Lots of plants are problematic because we are waiting for the soil to get warm enough for them. Spinach is the opposite. It likes cold and cool weather, and when the temperature is agreeable for wearing short sleeves, the spinach starts to bolt and turns bitter. For this reason, gardeners love it as a fall crop, providing some leaves in the winter and then again in early spring. It’s often hard to get much from a spring planting.
For this first garden, it’s best to steer clear of these and go for the quick-producers and low-maintenance choices. Getting some homegrown veggies from your own garden bed is wildly rewarding and inspiring, so make the most of it by playing it safe.
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7 Things You Should Be Saving Over Winter for Next Spring’s Garden
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