Going out to the garden to pick a salad for dinner is the best! And, of course, the foundation for a delicious salad is great lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is pretty blah, so I like to grow different types of Romaine in my garden.
Planting: Lettuce is a cool-weather crop, so plant it in a shady area. Space your seeds or seedlings about 1 foot apart and ¼” deep. Keep the soil moist and watch for garden pests. Learn more about growing romaine lettuce.
Recipe: When you've picked all the vegetables for your salad, top it off with some homemade croutons.
I always get carried away when planting green beans. There are so many different varieties to try! Calling them “green” beans is not completely correct--there are yellow beans and even purple beans.
Beans grow on two different types of plants. Bush beans, as you can guess, grow on a bushy plant that doesn’t need a support. They produce earlier and have a shorter harvest period. Pole beans grow on a vine, and need a trellis or some other support. They produce later but produce beans over a longer period of time.
My favorite yellow bean (sometimes called wax bean) is Gold Rush bush bean. The slender beans grow in clusters and are easy to see and pick.
Who doesn’t love a purple bean? I like Royal Burgundy bush beans because of their beautiful color and great flavor. Kids love them, and they turn green when cooked!
Planting: Beans are usually direct sowed in the garden. Pole beans will climb, so they need a pole or trellis. Bush beans are great in containers or in raised beds. Both varieties appreciate a scoop of your homemade compost mixed in with the soil when planting.
Recipes: It's easy to have some huge harvests of beans from the garden. Here's my super easy technique for freezing green beans so you can enjoy the harvest all year long.
Fresh beets are so much better than those awful canned things we had as kids. And did you know that beets are full of fiber, potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C?
Varieties: I like this Gourmet Blend because it includes 3 different types of beets: Detroit Dark Red with deep red roots and delicious dark green tops, Chioggia with interior rings of bright pink and white, and Golden with bright yellow flesh.
If you prefer traditional red beets, Detroit Dark Red is the way to go. Introduced in 1892, it’s the standard for what beets should be. They’re a deep crimson red, and don’t get woody if they grow too large.
Planting: Start seeds in the garden this month, and harvest in about 60 days when roots are between 1-3 inches in diameter.
We call broccoli "happy little trees" as a tribute to Bob Ross (and as an attempt to get the kids to eat it). There's nothing like the sense of accomplishment you get from growing broccoli--it's rare in home gardens.
Varieties: Broccoli Di Cicco is my favorite--it reliably produces large heads and then continues to produce smaller offshoots after the main harvest.
Have you ever seen this beautiful variety called Romanesco Broccoli? It’s so pretty, you won’t want to eat it. Romanesco is an heirloom variety with a delicious, nutty flavor and a stunning head made of many spiraling florets.
Planting: Plant your broccoli seedlings directly in the garden this month, about 18 inches apart.
Lots of folks make fun of kale because it’s in everything. Kale chips, kale smoothies, kale salad...the list goes on and on.
There’s a reason for this, though. One cup of kale contains more than your recommended daily value of vitamins K, A, and C. It also has lots of trace minerals, like copper, manganese, phosphorus, and selenium.
Varieties: I like Red Russian Kale, which you grow as a baby green. Cut the leaves after about 25 days and you’ll have tender, tasty kale. Then the plant will regrow for another harvest. Cool, right?
Planting: Set out kale plants in August and you’ll be harvesting your first crop of baby greens in late September.
Chard is great for new gardeners. It grows vigorously, provides a continuous harvest, and can even survive the winter in mild climates. Ideal, right? Except that if you’re the only person in your family who likes to eat Swiss chard, you will quickly be overrun with it. Ask me how I know.