Like to garden but don’t have much time? Listen to learn about five easy-care vegetables that you can grow.
This segment of The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Musings podcast series was written by George and Becky Lohmiller and is read by Heidi Stonehill, an Almanac editor.
Anyone who has spent hours picking beetles off potato plants or grieving over the ravages of blossom end rot on tomatoes may wonder: What are the five easiest vegetables to grow? For those who prefer to do almost no work between planting and harvest, we suggest the following vegetables.
Radishes are among the first crops harvested from the garden, some varieties maturing in less than three weeks. Since they grow so quickly, radishes need no fertilizer other than what is added at planting time. When seedlings emerge, thin them to 2 inches apart. Radishes taste best when washed clean and devoured right in the garden.
Beets are another easy-care root crop. Both greens and roots are loaded with nutrients. Thin young beets to allow room for the root to develop. (Steam the thinnings for an early-season treat!) If you prefer the greens to the roots, grow Swiss chard, a leafy cousin that out-produces beet greens.
Growing beans is a snap — especially the bush varieties, which require no thinning or staking. Beans are a true legume, which means that the plant utilizes nitrogen from the air to produce some of its own fertilizer. Besides green varieties such as ‘Kentucky Wonder’ and ‘Derby’, try ‘Golden Wax’, a yellow variety, or ‘Purple Pod’, which turns green when cooked.
If you love tomatoes but don’t like the headaches that come with growing them, try the cherry varieties. They are every bit as delicious, but much less susceptible to big-tomato diseases. ‘Sweet 100’, ‘Sun Gold’, and other cherry tomatoes can be picked from the plant and popped right into your mouth. Unlike the larger varieties, most cherry tomatoes ripen before frost.
Zucchini plants are so productive that even rabbits look upon them with awe. By mid-July, your neighbors will be locking their cars and porch doors so that you can’t “give away” excess gourds. Fortunately, zucchini squash is delicious. Serve it raw with a dip; fried; steamed; boiled; baked in casseroles with tomatoes and cheese; and made into breads, pickles, and relishes.