Garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow, and it's one that never fails to give me a great harvest. Did you know that each garlic clove you plant grows into an entire head of garlic? That's great news for garlic lovers like me.
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.
Snow peas are a great vegetable to grow with your kids, because they’re mild in flavor and fun to eat. Our kids sit in the garden and eat them right off the plant!
Varieties: Our favorite variety is Oregon Sugar Pod II. It produces giant, tender snow peas and often sets doubles--two pea pods from each node. Another fun type to grow is the purple-podded Sugar Magnolia snap pea.
Planting: Snow peas need consistent water, and fertile, loose soil with plenty of phosphorus and potassium. Here’s lots more information on planting and growing snow peas.
Recipes: If you end up getting any peas indoors before the kids eat them all, add them to a stir-fry or Homemade Orange Chicken.
Planting: Start fava seeds directly in the garden this month; they'll sprout in about 10-15 days.
Recipe: To eat whole like a snap bean, harvest when young and pods are 2"–3" long. For fresh shelling beans, harvest when the pod shell turns green and the bean is a light green color. For dry beans to store, harvest when shell turns hard and brown and seeds inside are dry.
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 30 days and you’ll have tender, tasty kale. Then the plant will regrow for another harvest. Cool, right?
Planting: Set out kale seedling this month and you’ll be harvesting in about a month.
If you never can seem to use up an entire head of celery from the store, you might think that growing it doesn’t make sense. Au contraire! If you grow celery in your garden, you can harvest individual stalks as needed for amazing flavor without waste.
Varieties: My favorite variety is Utah Organic, which is an heirloom celery.
Planting: Set out celery plants this month, and you can start harvesting the outer stalks in January or February.
Recipe: Try this Cornbread Dressing (or stuffing) recipe with homegrown celery. The taste is amazing!
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.
Please don't ever make your family suffer with frozen or canned spinach! Spinach is easy to grow, and is delicious and mild when picked fresh from the garden.
Varieties: Anna Spinach is a new variety that's specifically developed to eat as a baby green. It's perfect for spinach salad, stir-fry, omelettes, or even adding to your morning smoothie. If you prefer a large, traditional spinach, then I recommend Bloomsdale Spinach.
Planting: Spinach is happiest in cool weather, so a garden spot with afternoon shade is ideal. Sprinkle some seeds on the ground, cover with a thin layer of soil, and you'll start harvesting in just 28 days. Learn more about how to plant and grow spinach.