10 Easy Veggies to Plant This Spring
Got a black thumb? I certainly do. I think it may have something to do with how I always forget to water my plants. Luckily, there are some herbs and veggies that thrive on neglect, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to grow some of them this season. Growing your own vegetables can help save a buck or two, and when you grow them organically, they're healthier too. It's also just plain fun. (See also: 10 Unique Garden Containers and Techniques)
You can’t keep mint down! This lovely herb is delicious in salads, desserts and drinks, and it’ll grow like a weed if you give it a chance. Plant it in an enclosed planter or pot to prevent it from taking over your whole yard — and your neighbor’s yard too. It does best with morning sun and afternoon shade — too much sun will dry it out.
There’s a reason arugula looks like a weed — it certainly grows like one! Sow the seeds in a cool location with partial sun, water it once in a while, and watch your salad jungle grow. Naturally pest-resistant, arugula will mature in a month and if you let it go to seed, has a good chance of re-seeding itself!
3. Green Onions
Once in a while when I buy green onions at the store, I plant the extras in the yard before they have a chance to go bad. They last months and months this way, getting bigger and bigger until they’re the size of leeks. Of course, they taste best when harvested early, but at least they’re not going to waste! You can cut them down to the white parts and they will re-sprout, providing you with an ongoing supply of green onions. While I’ve read that they do best in full sun, mine are in a pretty shady spot and are doing fine. You can also sow them from seed in the spring.
I bought a rosemary plant a year ago, planted it in a sunny location, and have barely watered it since. It has now tripled in size, and I’m going to have to prune it back so I can walk past it comfortably! Rosemary does well in sunny, warm, and dry weather (like what we have in Southern California), but you can grow it anywhere in a well-drained pot. If you live in a colder climate, bring it indoors for the winter. It will perfume your house and your roasts all winter.
5. Zucchini and Summer Squash
Has your neighbor ever left you a zucchini the size of a baseball bat on your front porch? That’s because zucchini and summer squash are easy to grow, are enormously prolific, and grow huge fruit if you let them. You can start them from seed, but I find it easier to buy a seedling from a garden supply store. Plant them in a sunny location with rich soil and water when the top inch of soil is dry.
Sweet, crunchy carrots are easy to grow even in poor soil. Sow them in a sunny spot, and you’ll be thinning out the baby carrots in no time. Kids love pulling carrots out of the soil and eating them right from the yard.
This hardy plant thrives even when neglected (in fact, you can often find it growing wild), especially in cooler climates. Sadly, it doesn’t do so well in warmer climates, as it needs the chill of winter to develop flavor (or my garden would be stocked with the stuff). It grows well in partial shade with well-drained soil, and as a perennial, it will flourish year after year.
8. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are pretty expensive at the store, so they make a great addition to your home garden. They are naturally pest-resistant, less finicky than tomatoes, and require less heat than chili peppers. Plant pepper seedlings in full sun, in rich, well-drained soil after the nighttime temperatures get warmer (above 50-60 degrees F) and water deeply. For bigger peppers, fertilize every few weeks.
Beets are a popular choice for the garden because they can take abuse from the blackest thumb, and you can eat the entire plant, including the leaves! Surprised? Chances are, your average supermarket bag of spring mix includes beet greens. Sow them from seed and in about a month, you can start harvesting the tender baby greens. Larger, tougher greens can be cooked. Thin the seedlings as they grow bigger, and at the end of the season you’ll have a harvest of nice sweet beet roots.
10. Swiss Chard
This sturdy plant can withstand pretty harsh conditions, and it’s also incredibly good for you. Sow plenty of seeds in early spring, and thin out as you go for a bumper harvest. Rainbow varieties also add a colorful ornamental touch to your garden.