Depending on where you live, nearly all vegetables are suitable for a home garden. When choosing vegetable varieties to plant, choose varieties that mature earlier if you live in a northern climate. Living in a southern climate lets you plant just about any type of vegetable, which is wonderful when it is planting time. For example, I would love to grow peanuts but I live too far north. My growing season isn’t long enough for peanuts to have a chance to ripen before frost.
Tomatoes are probably planted in more home gardens than any other type plant. Although they are actually a fruit, we think of them as vegetables. Tomatoes come in all sorts of different types, red, yellow, cherry and tomatoes special for making sauces. Some of them have been bred to do well in extremely short growing seasons, so you should have no trouble in selecting a variety that will do well for you.
Tomatoes can be staked or caged, saving on garden space. If you let them sprawl, each tomato plant will take up quite a bit of area. Tomatoes also do well in container gardens. An empty 5-gallon bucket works wonderfully for holding and growing a tomato plant. Even though it is in a bucket, it will require staking as the plant grows.
Bell peppers and hot peppers also do great in a home garden. They usually don’t need to be staked, as they don’t tend to sprawl, but if they are heavily loaded with peppers, you might find it useful. You don’t want your lovely plants to break. Just like tomatoes, all pepper varieties do well when planted in large containers.
Green beans are a good choice for the home garden. They take very little space to grow, considering the amount of food they deliver. A couple of short row of green beans will produce enough fresh beans for a whole family during the summer. Plant a few more rows and you will be able to can or freeze enough to last all winter. You can choose from pole beans or bush beans.
Cucumbers are another favorite for the home garden. They do tend to take up quite a bit of space as they are very vining plants. If they are grown on a fence or trellis, they can grow upwards instead of reaching out toward nearby rows. There are also a couple seed varieties of bush type cucumbers available on the market today. If your space is limited, you might want to consider planting some of them. You can plant slicing cucumbers or small pickling type cucumbers.
Zucchini or yellow summer squash also do wonderfully well in a home garden. You will only need a couple plants of each to keep you, and probably even your neighbors, in a good supply of summer squash. The plants are quite large, but they produce an abundance. If you find you have more than you can easily use, you can shred and freeze zucchini and yellow squash. Use it in zucchini bread recipes during the winter. You can also shred it and use it to make delicious pickle relish.
All green leafy vegetables are a good choice. Leaf lettuce, swiss chard and spinach will do very well. Spinach will bolt once the weather starts to get hot, but swiss chard will flourish right up until frost. Keep leaf lettuce picked close and it will keep growing new leaves. Don’t pull it up when you harvest, but cut or pinch it off close to the bottom of the plant. I like to keep a planter of leaf lettuce growing near my kitchen door. It makes it very handy to pick a few leaves when I’m making sandwiches.
Carrots, radishes, beets are nice to plant along with lettuce. You will have all the ingredients to hand when you decide to put together a salad. Add onions as well. It is much easier to grow onions from sets than from seed. A small bag of onion sets will give you plenty of green onions to use.
Winter squash and pumpkins are very easy to grow. They will nearly grow untended. If kept cool, they will last long after the garden has been harvested. Their biggest drawback is the amount of space they require. They are very large vining plants, taking up much more space than cucumbers. If you have a large garden space, you might want to grow a few of each plant.
Broccoli is another vegetable that is easy to grow. A dozen plants will give you 12 big heads and lots of side shoots to use after the main head has been harvested. Just be sure to pick both the head and the side shoots while they are tight and green. Don’t wait until they show signs of flowering.
Sweet corn is a favorite, but unless you have plenty of room to grow it, I don’t recommend it. You need to plant at least 4 rows for good pollination, and each stalk will only produce 1 or 2 ears, so the harvest isn’t large. If you have the room, you will definitely want to have a corn patch, though. You can plant the rows as short or as long as you like, just make sure you plant 4 rows wide for good pollination, and no less than 3 rows wide at the very least.
There are many other vegetable that you can grow. I may not have mentioned your favorites. If you have a favorite vegetable, by all means give it a try. It might do splendidly for you. I plant a very large garden each year. It usually consists of sweet corn, bush green beans, pole lima beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, slicing cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, beets, lettuce, onions, carrots, broccoli, pumpkins, butternut squash, zucchini, yellow squash, garden peas and sunflowers. I usually try to plant at least one new vegetable variety each year. In the past I have also grown eggplant, watermelon, cantaloupe, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, pinto beans, kidney beans, white potatoes, sweet potatoes and popcorn.
Fortunately, I love canning and preserving. I have a large cellar in which to keep my finished jars of home canned produce. I rarely have to buy any vegetables from the store, even during the winter months. I’m able to go to my cellar and choose from the rows of pretty jars lined up on the shelves.