It’s that time of year again! It’s time to purchase seeds for starting the annual vegetable garden. But what should you be growing? With the uncertainties of the food supply chain, it is imperative that you know how to discover what to grow in your vegetable garden.
If you’re new to gardening, this article is here to show you where to go to discover what you should grow successfully.
Grow What Your Family Will Eat!
Probably the most important advice that you’ll get from anyone is that you should grow the vegetables that your family will eat. For instance, if your family doesn’t like carrots, you shouldn’t grow them. If your family only eats corn, green beans, potatoes, and tomatoes, then you should grow them. You should grow them if those vegetables will grow in your area. So, determine what your family will eat and put them on a list. Now that you know that, it’s time to find out what you CAN grow where you live.
How Do You Know if What You Eat is What You Can Grow Where You Live?
I would love to be able to give you step-by-step instructions on how you can grow your best garden every year, but even if you did exactly what I do, you won’t get the same results that I get. In fact, if I do the same plantings in different locations or in different years, I will get different results.
I can’t tell you when to plant specific varieties of plants, nor can I tell you specifically what vegetables you should plant when or whether or not you should plant a specific type of vegetable! I would take with a grain of salt anything that anyone who tried to say that they can do this for you. I can, however, suggest places you can go to get better educated on your planting region and zones so that you can make better choices on what grows in your area and what doesn’t. This information can also help you know when to plant your garden and the general types of vegetables to plant.
Your County Extension Office
One of your local resources is the county extension office of your county if you live here in the United States. These people are paid with your tax dollars so why not hear what they have to say. They can tell you what zone you’re living in, what others have grown in your area, and what you should consider not growing.
Glean Information from Your State Conservation Department
Speaking of those who are paid with your tax dollars, you can also contact your local conservation department to learn what animals might be a problem for your crops and what you can do about them as well as what endangered plants and animals you should avoid killing. They may also be able to tell you when various insects are likely to be causing problems in your area.
Plus, they will tell you things that you should know like how many deer, raccoons, possums, crows, and other animals are near where you live. This is good information to have if you want to know what critters are in your area. Deer may be a great resource if you’re a hunter but are not so good for you as a gardener. If you want to grow a lot of corn, you may want to have a plan in place to combat raccoons.
Fellow Gardeners as a Resource
Find out about other gardeners in your area. Perhaps there’s a nearby gardening club. If another gardener lives nearby and you like how their garden looks, consider introducing yourself whenever you see them working in their garden. Be sure to have a list of questions that you would like to ask. Most gardeners are happy to share what they know, especially if you offer to help do a little weeding with them while you talk. They can also tell you about what you can and can’t grow.
Seed catalogs also offer a lot of information about specific varieties. Pay particular attention to what zones the variety grows best and compare that to where you live. If your planting zone falls into the recommended zones, that seed might be a good option for you. In addition, the seed catalog description will tell you how much sun the plants will require, how far apart to plant the seeds, how far apart to put the rows, and how many days from seed, or transplant to harvest.
Seed Package Information
Don’t overlook the seed package itself as a resource. It’s pretty much the same information that comes from your seed catalogs but is more readily in hand.
Your Own Experience
That’s not to say that I believe that you should take the word of anyone else as gospel. Your own experience will teach you better than what others can tell you about what vegetables will grow where you live. As I said before, your land is going to be unique and will have its own set of idiosyncrasies also, what works one year might not work the following year.
For instance, my garden in 2020 was amazing. I purchased one of those “survival gardens” that had numerous types of vegetables and I planted some of all of them in my garden (at the right time of year, of course). I was able to keep getting food from the garden all spring, summer, and fall from what I planted. My experience in 2021, had different results. My bush beans didn’t do well, but later my pole beans did, but the pole beans had not done well during 2020, but the bush beans did). I had a difficult time getting squash of any kind to produce. The insect pressure was too great. (It was the same for most people in my area, even those who used pesticides which I don’t use.)
I can’t tell you that you will have a perfect garden every year, but what I can tell you is that if you grow a diverse variety of vegetables, plant over several months, and maintain healthy soil, you’ll develop a garden that you can pick from every day of the year from early spring to late autumn and beyond!
What I can tell you is that by experimenting with different growing styles and vegetable varieties, you will soon know what works in your location and what doesn’t.
Are there questions you have about what vegetables you should grow where you live? Is there anything that you would like to comment on regarding what you like to grow in your vegetable garden?
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