People often ask us,
“So what vegetables should I grow in my garden?”
Invariably, the response will be a long list of questions like climate, soil, what they like to eat/cook, etc. that borders on interrogation - mouths agape, eyes glazed, head bobbing up and down, trying to take it all in. Yes, it can be tedious to think about these things!
So to make it a little bit easier, here are several preliminary approaches you can take in deciding what to plant. You can certainly follow more than one strategy, keeping in mind your climate, soil, acreage, and personal tastes.
- Refrigerator Method. Open your fridge and think what has been in it over the last 12 months. What are things you will always find and what are “one-offs”? If you have a good climate for growing vegetables, this is the best method because you know you will use what you grow.
- Native Method. If you already know what grows in your area, then focus on what grows well. Don’t grow artichokes if you have hot summers. Don’t grow carrots if you’ve got heavy, clay soil.
- Frugal Method. Grow vegetables that are expensive at the supermarket. Think of short shelf life, high consumption veggies like lettuce, or lower production volume but delicious cherry tomatoes that can cost $3 for just a half quart!
- Anti-Pesticide Method. You may want to grow certain vegetables that have the highest pesticide load, such as sweet bell peppers, celery, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, carrots and green beans.
- Tiny Garden Method. If you have limited space to grow, then you may find herbs and vegetables that don’t take up much space to be your favorites. You may also like the Square Foot Gardening techniques by Mel Bartholomew.
- Squirrel Garden Method. The opposite of the Tiny Garden Method and may require a large area. If like a squirrel with its acorns, you want to stow away vegetables for the winter, then think about setting aside garden space for storage vegetables like potatoes, onions and garlic. Think of what can be dried (beans, herbs) or canned/frozen (tomato sauce). We highly recommend Yin-Yang beans!
- Impress The Neighbors Method. Ok, so I am guilty of doing this with our purple artichokes that grow next to the sidewalk (purple anything is a great conversation piece). Go through your seed catalogs until you say “What the heck is that?” and then if it grows in your area, grow it in your garden. Grow it in your front yard to befuddle neighbors walking by with their dogs.