According to Mel Bartholomew, author and founder of the Square Foot Gardening Method, more than 15 million people every year either plan to start a garden, but never do. Or they start a garden but fail within that first year.
That’s a lot of people who want to provide themselves or their family with a better option for food sources who never make it past the first effort.
But why? What happens to all that excitement and green-thumbery that we all start our gardens with? What about our dreams of produce baskets full of our freshly picked bountiful harvests?
Simply put, we fail because the garden becomes more work than it is worth. If your plants aren’t producing why bother putting in the effort to keep a garden growing.
I know I’ve been there. But don’t worry.
These 5 summer vegetables are super easy to grow and will provide you with an abundant harvest that will make you feel like a gardening pro and have you acing that first gardening year.
If you’re not quite ready to get planting, be sure to check out my Spring Checklist so you can be prepared in advance!
To make the list these 5 easy summer vegetables all had to:
Have a high yield.
They must be able to put on a lot of produce for a fairly limited amount of gardening effort. Because if we aren’t getting bountiful harvests of abundant produce we aren’t going to feel like we’ve aced this gardening thing.
Very few gardeners, newbie or otherwise, want to spend every spare moment carefully nurturing delicate plants. ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that.’ And let’s be honest, if you are one of those gardeners, you probably aren’t going to be reading this post.
Be available in improved varieties.
This relates to thriving easily. But improved varieties are plants that have been crossbred for better yield (bountiful harvest, people), better resistance to disease, stronger plants, better flavors or a host of other things. You see this most often in tomatoes but other plants are also often available improved. Side note: improved does not mean genetically modified. So for those of you avoiding GMO products you can still buy improved varieties.
Grow almost anywhere.
There are so many new gardeners out there who want to make a go of it even when they only have an apartment patio or a sideyard. So all of these veggies can be grown almost anywhere. Containers, raised beds, balcony boxes, fence rows or wide open fields.
Be inexpensive and readily available.
Why? Because if you are in your first year, or really any year, of gardening you need to be prepared to make mistakes. Even with these super simple veggies. I have done everything from bury them to deep to stepping on them while weeding. And occasionally that plague of grasshoppers will find your precious plants before you can say fly swatter.
All of these veggies are readily available at your local feed and home improvement stores, local nurseries and even the discount giants. If the worst happens and you lose a plant, or ten, a quick trip to your local store will have you back in the gardening business in no time.
So, without further ado, these are the
5 Easy Summer Vegetables You Want to Plant Now
1. Tomatoes – Probably America’s favorite garden veggie* and a classic.
These are the workhorse of the American garden and come in hundreds of varieties. But don’t go getting wild and wooly when faced with the all the choices. Remember the traits above and look for improved varieties and types that fit your growing conditions.
For our garden, we like Parks Whopper and Celebrity. They make big, tasty tomatoes that ripen evenly and are crack-resistant. If you are gardening in a container or small area, try the Better Bush variety. And for smaller, paste-type tomatoes that produce like crazy you can’t beat a Roma.
2. Squash – I love squash and it is so easy to grow.
Make sure your squash has room to run, because this one’s a vine. But other than occasionally watering that’s pretty much all you’ll have to do for this super veggie. Like tomatoes, there are several types and varieties of squash available – butternut, acorn, yellow, zucchini, spaghetti, etc. For a beginning gardener start with one of the yellow varieties. I like the straight neck but the yellow crook neck is also a good one.
3. Cucumbers – I always plant at least one
Like squash, cucumbers are a vine and will need room to run. For this reason and because we just don’t eat many cucumbers I usually only plant one. I prefer the slicing or burpless variety because I use them for salads and cucumber sandwiches. But they also come in pickling varieties, as well as heirloom. Burpless varieties are supposed to be sweeter and easier to digest. Anybody else see what they did there with the name?
4. Hot Peppers – Tacos and tequila, anyone?
Jalapenos, tabascos, poblanos, you name it and we’ve had pretty good luck growing it. By far the easiest and highest yielding for us have been the jalapenos and the tabasco. The tabasco’s are a fun and pretty plant with lots of red, yellow and green peppers. And you can make an easy, peasy tabasco sauce that’s perfect for field peas or cabbage. Try to stay away from unusual or hard to find varieties when starting out, just in case you trample one.
5. Okra – Not so good for containers but it will grow just about anywhere else.
Are you surprised by this one? While it may not seem like your typical garden veggie, okra is a powerhouse plant. Since it is direct planted straight from seed it is super cheap, it grows and begins producing quickly and it keeps producing until frost kills it. Trust me, you are gonna be tired of picking before its tired or putting on. Plant it in your side yard, along the back fence or take over a row from the garden. It grows straight and vertical so you can plant quite a bit in a narrow area. Side note-it has a beautiful flower.
Are you ready to get growing? Selecting plants that thrive easily, come in improved varieties, can grow almost anywhere, are inexpensive and readily available, and most importantly, produce baskets full of freshly picked bountiful harvests will insure that you have a great gardening year and are ready to come back for more next year. So get out there and get planting and let me know how your bumper crops of the Fab Five Vegetables did.
*Fun Fact – The tomato is actually a fruit even though it is normally categorized with vegetables.
*Quick tip – plant tomatoes and hot peppers from seedlings(plants) and plant squash, okra and cucumbers from seed.