If you’re a first-time gardener, you might not know what fruits, veggies, or flowers to start your garden off with. Below is a list of some of the easiest and most recommended plants to add to your garden.
Cucumbers can be a great addition to any salad or be made into delicious pickles. After the last frost has ended, you can either plant the cucumbers directly into the ground or pick up some seeds from a nursery. Just make sure there is plenty of sunlight, well-drained soil, and room for the cucumber vines to grow. If you’d rather plant them in a container, place one cucumber seed per pot in a sunny area and water them regularly. Once the cucumbers are bright green and firm, it’s time to harvest.
Who doesn’t love a crunchy and flavorful addition to salads and other healthy recipes? Because peppers like hot weather, it is suggested that you start growing the seeds indoors for 4–6 weeks before moving them into your garden outside. If you’re unable to keep the plant inside, you can also purchase sprouted seedlings from a nursery that will be strong enough to plant immediately outdoors. You want to wait until the possibility of frost is gone before planting. Place seeds 4–6 inches apart in an area with lots of sunlight and well-drained soil. Continue watering them regularly until they become bright and waxy. Then they are ready to eat!
Basil is not only a multipurpose herb in your recipes but also in your garden. It’s a natural bug repellent, and some people say it makes tomatoes taste better when you grow the two in close proximity. To plant basil, start placing the seeds at least 12 inches apart about 6 weeks before the last frost is expected. If the soil is feeling a bit barren, water it lightly, and you’ll soon have a great herb to use in any recipe.
Whether you’re looking to grow leaf lettuce or head lettuce, this is an easy plant to take care of. Unlike some of the other plants above, lettuce prefers to grow in cool weather. As long as it’s not below 45°F, lettuce can survive with a little bit of frost. Just plant the seeds in well-drained soil and in about 50-75 days, your lettuce will be ready to eat. It helps to harvest in the morning, so the leaves don’t go limp from the sun. The best part about growing lettuce is you can plant small amounts multiple times a month to keep bringing in fresh produce. Just plant a few rows every two to three weeks during the growing season and you’ll have plenty of lettuce for the months to come.
Similar to lettuce, radishes are grown in cooler weather conditions. On the plus side, radishes only need about 22–70 days to ripen. Just place the seeds about one inch apart in loose, moist soil with lots of sunlight and they’ll be ready to eat in no time.
Blueberries are the perfect healthy treat to pop in your mouth on a hot day. Even better, they’re fairly easy to grow yourself. There is a bit of preparation to do to your soil, since blueberries need acidic soil ranging from a pH level of 4.0–6.0. Not only does your soil have to be acidic, but also well-drained and in an area that receives a lot of sunlight. For upkeep, deeply water the plant often and you’ll be good to go. Click here to learn how to test the pH of your soil and see the best pH levels for many different plants, including blueberries.
Ah, there’s nothing better than freshly picked strawberries in the summer months. Did you know there are two types you can pick from? June Bearing strawberries bloom in June, hence the name, and Everbearing strawberries bloom throughout the entire summer. If you aren’t careful, strawberries can take over your garden. It helps to grow them in vertical planters to keep from overpowering everything else. When planting them, cover the roots with soil, but give the bud some room to breathe so they won’t rot. Continue watering them regularly until the strawberries are nice and ripe.
Just like blueberries, raspberries are a great treat—especially if you’re looking for something sour to snack on. They are also a fruit that will spread rapidly, so your best bet is to plant them in 30-inch-wide containers. However, raspberries tend to grow fairly tall, so you might consider investing in a wired fence or trellis to add some support to your planter. To grow raspberries, plant the seeds in well-drained soil and a sunny area.
Tomatoes are a great addition to your garden because they are much tastier than the store-bought version. They thrive in the heat, so make sure you plant them indoors 6–8 weeks before the last frost. (Because of the weather, it’s better off to start growing them indoors in pots.) Once the plants grow at least four leaves each, it’s time to find a bigger container. Wait until one week before the last frost to finally put them outside in your garden, planted about 12–48 inches apart. Make sure the plant has plenty of sunshine throughout the growing process.
Sunflowers have become increasingly more popular, especially with many people using sunflower fields for picture opportunities. They are also an easy plant to take care of, seeing as they can survive in almost any type of soil—unless it’s super wet. Also, they don’t need much maintenance and are fairly good at adapting to their environment. The most important aspect is sunlight. Make sure to keep them in an open space, preferably away from other plants so they don’t throw shade on the rest of your garden. To plant, just place your seeds in one-inch holes and space them at least 6 inches apart from one another.
One great quality about marigolds is they are pretty difficult to harm during the growing process. Although they can take to almost any type, marigolds prefer wet, well-drained soil. Once the frost season is over, cover the seeds with a little bit of dirt, but make sure the soil doesn’t get too dry. You’ll be left with beautiful, bright flowers that add a pop of color to your yard.
Who wouldn’t want to plant a flower that can survive in extreme temperatures? There are hundreds of varieties of pansies, some of which can live in very hot or very cold climates. However, for most pansies, the best time to plant is when the soil is about 50–60 degrees. You can either buy already grown plants to put in your garden or buy seeds and space them 7–12 inches apart.
Although there are many different crops to add to your garden, the best time of year to plant them differs based on where you live in the United States. For an extended look at which plants you should grow during what time of year based on your region, check out this website.