Growing Vegetables

Written by Sarah Provost
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Growing vegetables is one of the most satisfying hobbies you can pursue. While it may not present the extreme thrills of, say, running the Iditarod, gardening gives the passionate practitioner plenty of excitement when the first pea shoots come up. And besides, you can't eat a trophy.

Tomatoes Rule the Garden

Tomatoes are by far the most popular vegetable for backyard gardens, and for good reason. They're colorful, they're easy to grow, you can make sauce when you have too many, and most people like them and use them often (as opposed to kale, for example). Most importantly, there is no other food that presents such a tremendous contrast in flavor between a home grown product and what you can buy at a grocery store.

Peas come a close second in both popularity and flavor. The sweetness of fresh peas can't be overestimated. Like tomatoes, they're pretty and easy to grow, and any extras can be easily frozen--though I eat so many right off the vine that a surplus is rarely a problem.

Vining crops such as cucumbers, zucchini and squashes also grow well if given enough room, and the ornamentals such as peppers and eggplant do nicely once the soil is warm. Radishes and carrots require a good soil texture, preferably on the sandy side. Lettuces and spinach are cool weather crops, but chard can take their place in the salad bowl in the hot months. And don't forget the herbs! Plant some basil, at least, and preferably all the herbs you normally use in cooking. Even if you dry them for winter use, they will still be much more flavorful than the dried herbs you can buy in jars.

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