Updated: Jun 19, 2020
So, what to do for summer fun when all else is cancelled? Whether you have acreage or an apartment balcony, a garden can look like one zucchini, a tomato plant or rows of luscious vegetables taking up a whole backyard. It’s easy to grow all your daily salad makings and vegetables for your whole family (and for zucchini-several other families as well). A large part of the excitement of growing veggies isn’t just the yummy food or end product, but the process of selecting, sprouting and eventually planting those (vegetable) starts that grow into vegetables. This humble process is so wonderful for our health because in a world that is often chaotic, it is a soothing stress reliever that is calm, simple and predictable.
As a parent, I highly recommend sharing this experience with children so they can be educated on where food comes from and how growing is an example of the process that exists in nature and in our own lives. Plants, like people need the right ingredients to grow and they must work hard and stand up against the storms of life to eventually bear fruit.
People often try and grow plants that are their favorite foods but this may or may not mean you will be successful which can be very discouraging. People love watermelon but it is much harder to grow than others. It requires the right kind of sunlight, heat and soil so it can be discouraging when it doesn’t grow. Carrots are another favorite but require a certain soil type and planted at a depth that is best suited for a raised bed.
So, what it the best way to grow a garden, and what are the easiest veggies and fruits to succeed - use what you space you have available:
If you have land - put the plants in the ground in built up rows.
If you have a balcony – use a large pot or large fabric container with good drainage (people often under-estimate how big vegetables can grow)
If you have a compact yard – use raised beds
What are the easiest plants?
Zucchini – want to be a successful on your first try? zucchini can make you look like an amazing gardener and it is very healthy and produces a lot for a little work.
Tomatoes – very versatile, choose cherry tomatoes which will grow in any environment. They are a lot of fun for kids to pick and eat off the vine. (We love “Sun Golds” at our house). So sweet - yum!
Eggplant – good in soups, fried and sautéed and such a pretty plant also.
Beans – any type which will grow pretty quickly and they are a lot of fun to pick and eat.
Herbs – remember though-some herbs will get large such as mint and rosemary so put them in a container no matter how much land you have.
What I do to prepare the soil (remember this changes depending on where in the world you live). Each spring I till the soil and mix in manure and compost. It gives a great boost to the growing. I also may use a natural fertilizer to give your seeds a boost. This is my quick and dirty tips and they can get a lot more technical for specific plants but the 3 ingredients in your soil will make you pretty successful no matter where you are growing.
I am sharing with you some early garden photo’s that show you the progress of growth in our yard not the end product, because the journey and watching something grow is most of the fun and part of the relaxation. So, go grow something. If you haven’t started yet don’t worry- you can start in the late summer. There are several early winter vegetables that are started in the fall for a winter harvest. In California, we are able to grow vegetables and fruit year round.