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Growing Vegetables A to Z

What to Grow in Your Vegetable Garden

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Starting a Vegetable Garden | Container Vegetable Gardening | Early Spring Vegetables | Fall Vegetable Gardening | Vegetable Gardening in Warm Climates | Vegetables A to Z

Deciding what to grow in a vegetable garden should be easy - grow what you like to eat. But once you start reading the descriptions of the vegetables, your eyes become much bigger than your stomach. So plant a mix of vegetables to eat fresh and some to store away for later.

Here, A to Z, are growing tips and recommendations for the most popular vegetables to grow in a home vegetable garden.

Asparagus

An Asparagus Border.
Photo: © Marie Iannotti
One of the first vegetables of spring and it’s a perennial too. As with any perennial plant, it takes about 3 years to get your asparagus plants to come into their own. You’ll have to be patient and not pick any for the first year. Put once they’re up and running, you’ll be enjoying fresh asparagus for years.

Beans

Green Bean Harvest.
Photo: © Marie Iannotti
Beans just keep on producing. You can plant bush beans in succession every 2-3 weeks and have a continual harvest or just put up a couple of tepees of space saving pole beans. And there’s so much more variety than what you can find at the grocers.

Tips for Growing a Fall Crop of Green Beans.

Beets

How many vegetables are totally edible? You can eat the beet greens or wait and eat the root bulb. You can even eat the extra plants you thin out of the row. All this, and beets are actually a very attractive ornamental plant too.

Broccoli

Broccoli can handle a little chill in the spring, although it won't really get going until things warm up.  Still, it's nice to have the plants nestled in and ready to sprint.  Give them plenty of room and good soil.  They'll be sending out sprouts for most of the summer.

Brussels Sprouts

Developing Brussels Sprouts.
Photo: Debbie Schiel / stock.xchng.
Brussels sprouts take their time growing and then, just when you think there’s nothing left to pick in the garden, your Brussels sprouts are tinged in frost and ready to enjoy. You can start harvesting the lower sprouts earlier, but they really are sweetest after being kissed by frost.

Cabbage

Heads of 'Red Drumhead' Cabbage.
Photo: © Marie Iannotti
As decorative as they are tasty. A field of cabbages looks too good to cut. But do. Try some of the less familiar types, like the puckered savoy, the self-blanching Chinese ‘Michihli’, or the Italian heirloom ‘Nero di Toscana’ (Black Palm Tree).

Corn

Ears of Sweet Corn.
Photo: Stephanie Berghaeuser / stock.xchng.
Corn so fresh it doesn’t need to be cooked. If you haven’t experienced that, you owe it to yourself to try growing corn. Corn is pollinated by the wind, so you need enough space to plant it in blocks. But it’s quite an attractive plant, so you won’t mind making room.

Cucumber

Cucumbers don't need a lot of encouragement to grow.  The only hard part of growing cucumbers is keeping up with the harvest.  Pick them young and they'll be less bitter and have fewer seeds.  More will follow.

Eggplant

Eggplant 'Hansel'
Photo: © National Garden Bureau, Inc.
There’s a whole world of eggplants out there, just waiting for us to learn how to cook it well. There are stripped, mottled, green and even egg-shaped white eggplants to experiment with. Eggplant absolutely loves heat and sun and the larger fruited varieties need a long summer to yield well. But the long thin eggplants, like the Asian ‘Fengyuan’ and the AAS winners ‘Hansel’ and ‘Gretel’, are great for shorter season gardens.

A Look at Eggplant Varieties.

Greens

Italian Kale.
Photo: © Marie Iannotti
Few vegetables require so little work and are so good for you. Most greens (and reds) do really well as late season crops, as replacements for the fading bean and squash plants. And some are so beautiful, like ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard, they can do double duty in the flower garden. However they’ll need some protection from the ground hogs, who love them too.

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