Choosing the Top 8 Vegetables to Grow in the home garden was challenging mostly due to lack of gardening space. So intercropping ie radish between lettuce is a favourite growing method although neither of these 2 veggies even made my "top list". Always look for alternatives, such as a friend with land to spare, a large city lot or even unused farmland. I looked into growing some vegetables in a community garden and have my name on a list with a two year wait. I digress, here we go with my top 8 vegetables, not really in any order:
#1 Tomato (almost always)
This has been one of the most grown and productive vegetable / fruit in our home gardens over the years and is still #1. Due to limited space some of this years three varieties will be grown in the flower gardens. This is such a tasty and healthy fruit and a great success. The 3 heirloom varieties grown this year are Rutgers, Earliana and Starfire although I believe there are over 4,000 tomato varieties Here's my easy canning tomato recipe
#2 Curly Kale (all year)
Curly Kale is another super easy vegetable to grow, very productive and can supply "greens" almost all year. Plus if you have a non-GMO variety you can keep the seed each year. There are lots of bright yellow flowers for the pollinators (bees and hummingbirds, etc) and seeds leftover for the birds to eat. How to grow healthy kale
#3 Garlic - Red Russian
Yes, garlic (Allium sativum) is a vegetable and over the years I have made this a priority crop as I eat raw garlic cloves nearly every day and have done so for many years. So healthy & definitely great to grow in raised beds in the home garden. How to grow your own organic garlic Please note this decade old article is currently being updated and hopefully coming to a screen near you shortly!
#4 Scarlet Runner Beans
There is always space in a veggie garden for these great producers and a super plant for kids to grow. This veggie grows 6 foot+ high and grows well on a trellis; the bees and hummingbirds love the flowers; so keep picking the beans as they keep growing until the snow falls or its below freezing. Big bonus - bean seeds can be saved each year for the following season. What's not to like?
This is such an easy veggie to grow plus it is so crunchy, juicy & sweet. Our own children's favourite when they were very young. Simply follow the directions on the seed packet eg:
- Plant late Spring & Early Fall; plant seeds 1cm deep & 10cm apart
- The Sugar Snap peas which grow 5 to 6 feet tall I grow on a trellis in the raised beds.
#6 Beets (or beetroot) - a versatile vegetable
With new raised bed gardens (on the previous back lawn) there is now space to rotate some crops so beets are now back in the veggie garden. A great winter "storer" and renewed favourite. Beets are great fresh, canned or pickled and make sure you eat (or can) the "greens". Again, plant as per your seed packet. I use seed planting spacing for raised bed gardens. (Refer link "Square Foot Gardening" below)
#7 Summer & Winter Squash
This includes summer Zucchini (bush) and cucumbers as they usually do not cross-pollinate with my winter squash. My favourite winter keeper is Butternut squash as it is a nutritious veggie and can be stored for many months. I no longer grow acorn squash as they can cross-pollinate with summer squash (Zucchini). Also I have to be very selective what I choose to grow as our home garden as it is very small.
#8 Potato - The Old Standby
This is not the ideal vegetable for a Small Vegetable Garden as it takes a lot of space. But I can now rotate a few veggies and am growing fruit and veggies in the flower garden so there is more growing space. Potatoes are another super winter storer for both edible spuds and keeping seed potatoes for the following year.
Notes, Tips & Thoughts:
- The first 3 vegetables, tomatoes, kale & garlic, have been top producers and still are.
- Purchase Heirloom variety seeds if you wish to dry some seeds to plant for next year eg: runner beans and peas are very easy, as are herbs such as dill.
- Herbs have not been included but these grow or are planted continuously (or overwinter in greenhouse). The list includes parsleys, chives, sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary and basil. In a mild winter Sage & Rosemary can survive and parsley is another 12 month crop with plants self seeding.
Actually this is not "the end" as the list continues with the addition of lettuces (of all varieties). These are the top vegetables we enjoy and eat regularly, often daily, during the year. Always grow fruit and vegetables you and your family enjoy the most and have fun while growing them. Best wishes for continued success ~ Cheers Liz
Links & References:
- Here's how to grow your tomatoes
- Beet or Borscht soup recipe
- Thinly sliced, or grated potatoes are used in homemade delicious Quiches recipe. This is an easy, economical and nutritious meal for your family
- The greenhouse is perfect for keeping herbs growing & storing fruit trees during our cold winter. 8 Reasons to Buy a Greenhouse
- "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew 2005
- PS: Gardening supplies including seeds, plants, tools and books are all great gift ideas any time of the year. Happy garden planning for your next season