Vegetable Gardening is easy as 1-2-3

Lettuce not only tastes great, it’s pretty!

Growing vegetables can be easy – with three simple things to keep in mind. Plus, here in the land of blazing summers, you will need to select the right plants for the season.

Rule one. Grow what you like. Don’t plant kale if you don’t like it! If you “kinda” like lettuce, try growing some – because home grown tastes far better than store bought.

Kale fresh from a garden has little bitterness.

Rule two. K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Silly! Start small. You were undoubtedly envisioning a huge bed with rows of carrots and cabbages. You could do that, but better to start small. Get some big plant pots, put them where they will get at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, then fill them with potting soil. The potting soil is the most expensive part of the operation, but good soil grows good plants.

Carrots grow well in containers, and are a yummy treat for kids to harvest.

Rule three. Keep the tiny little baby seedlings moist while they get established. Seeds and seedlings may need twice a day moisture in summer until they are big enough and have enough roots to drink only once a day. A good potting soil helps keep them moist.

Tiny seedlings roots can’t go far for water.

One, two, three. It really is that simple. Now here are some additional details in case you are the detail oriented type.

Timing is Everything! Now is the time for a fall garden. The fall garden includes things that can stand frost (due after October 15), or will be ready to harvest before that date. Thus, if you like tomatoes, get seedlings from the nursery and grow them now. You should have a fine fall crop of tomatoes. (For tomatoes from seed, start indoors in February.) Other plants that may not survive the frost but you still have time to grow include peppers, bush beans, winter squash and zucchini.

If we have a late first frost – you might be able to have fresh, home-grown zucchini at Thanksgiving.

Fall plants that survive frost include mostly leafy and root crop vegetables. Artichokes, arugula, beets, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, chives, collard greens, endive, garlic, horseradish, jicima, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce (head and leaf types), mesclun mix, mizuma, mustard greens, onion, pak choy, parsnip, potato, radish, raduccio, scallion, shallots, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnip.

Bok choi, joi choi, and pak choi, are all delightful and best eaten young and fresh.

Pot size and depth depends on what you plant in it. Rule of thumb, the pot should be as deep roughly as the plant will be tall. Tomatoes and peppers do best in pots two and a half feet deep, or greater. Likewise for squash and other pumpkin family members. Shallow pots, around a foot and a half deep are fine for most leafy vegetables, like lettuce, spinach, and chard. Go two feet for broccoli, beans and Brussels sprouts.

Grow what you like. Keep it small and simple. Water as needed. As easy as 1-2-3. Happy veggie gardening!


Want to learn more about gardening? Look for my free lectures at your local Pima County Library branch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will sell and sign copies of my books, including Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening (Cool Springs Press, $23).

© Article copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos may not be used.

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