Seven Vegetables to get you off to a Good Start
These seven vegetables are reliable, productive and easy to grow. I've indicated how many of each to plant in the 10-by-15-foot (3 by-4.5m) sample bed. However, choose vegetables you and your family enjoy. There's no point growing peas if no on will eat them. Be sure to harvest regularly to keep plants producing more.
Tender and flavourful, bush beans come in purple, yellow, shades of green and speckled.
Grow from: Seeds, sown once the soil warms up, usually late May through early June
How Many: Two rows set two feet (60 cm) apart - sow two to three inches (5 to 8 cm) apart. No sprouts in five days? Seed again!
Key to success: The soil must be warm (minimum 16 degrees C) - beans not in cold soil.
Pole beans make excellent use of vertical space. They also freeze well, so grow lots of them.
Grow from: Seeds, sown once the soil is warm
How Many: Make five small hills of soil spaced about two feet (60 cm) apart. Create shallow craters on top and plant six to ten seeds two inches (5 cm) apart in each crater.
Key to success:Give them something to climb, such as stakes, netting or bamboo teepees. Pick before seeds swell.
Homegrown carrots are so delicious they're worth the extra effort required.
Grow from: Seeds, sown when the soil has warmed slightly.
How Many: Three rows, about 11 feet (3.3 m) long. The seeds are tiny, so try to be patient enough to plant them one inch (2.5 cm) apart, or purchase seed tapes.
Key to success: Carrots need deep, friable soil to grow unhampered. If the soil is dense and heavy, grow dwarf or "ball" varieties. When the plants are two inches (5 cm) tall, thin them by pulling out alternate seedlings. Do this regularly until carrots are three to four inches (8 to 10 cm) apart, so they have room to mature. If carrot rust fly is a pest in your area, cover the plants with a floating row cover.
A nutritional powerhouse, kale is super easy to grow, and because it's frost tolerant, it can be planted in early spring or fall. When kissed by frost, kale gets sweeter and loses it's cabbagy taste.
Grow from: Seeds or purchased seedlings any time from early spring to fall. Kale also self-seeds.
How Many: Six to eight plants spaced at least 18 inches (45 cm) apart.
Key to success: The more fertile your soil, the bugger and lusher kale grows.
Also called mange tout (the pod is edible), snap peas are delicious stir-fired or eaten straight from the garden.
Grow from: Inoculated seeds, when soil thaws- early spring.
Hany Many: One row, 11 feet (3.3m) long
Key to success: Give them something to climb on, such as netting and pick when they start to swell. If the peas in the pods mature and get too big, treat them as shelling peas. After the peas are done (mid-to late summer), fill the space with chard, lettuce, spinach or any leafy green.
Most tomatoes are "indeterminate" meaning they grow every which way and bear fruit over a long period. "Determinate" tomatoes are generally bushier and don't need pruning.
Grow from: Seeds, started early indoors, or purchased seedling. Set seedling out around Victoria Day weekend in May or when soil is ward.
How Many: Five plants, with at least two feet (60 cm) of space around each.
Key to success: Keep plants consistently well watered. Indeterminate tomatoes need staking and regular pruning back to one or two main stems to get lots of fruit (Youtube.com has lots of videos on training tomatoes.) Determinate varieties generally don't need a cage for support. If your summers are cool, stick with types that mature in less than 70 days for a better chance of ripening.
Zucchini grow quickly, especially when you go away for the weekend. Don't fret over powdery mildew on the leaves in the fall; it's normal.
Grow from: Seeds, started indoors or purchased seedlings; set them out when the soil has warmed.
How Many: Two plants, set at least three feet (90 cm) apart.
Key to success: Keep soil moist. Harvest fruit when small - six - seven inches (15 - 18 cm) and use a knife; don't twist them off. Plant seedlings in the cucurbits family - squash, cucumbers, melons, before the third true leaf appears, or yields may be low.