We’ve all overplanted or planted the wrong varieties for our tastes and needs. Use these garden planning tips to get a great return on your investment.
First, prepare a list before placing your catalog order or making that first trip to the garden center. Without a bit of preplanning our carts end up filled with more seeds and plants than space available or varieties that are not suited to our growing conditions or our family’s taste.
Review your favorite recipes and consider growing the ingredients you need on a regular basis. Salad lovers may want to plant a container of greens that can be harvested daily. Sandy Lettuce and colorful mild flavored Red Kingdom Mizuna are slow to bolt, extending the harvest into warmer months. Add some super nutritious Prizm kale for your morning smoothies and salads. Prizm’s stemless stalks releaf quickly after harvest so you’ll have a continuous supply.
Fill a corner of the garden or container with a small-fruited tomato or two for salads, snacking and other daily treats. Red Celano grape tomato (a determinate for containers) and the light-yellow sweet Firefly tomato (an indeterminate for vertical or staked gardens) are attractive and very productive, ensuring more than enough for your whole family to enjoy.
Add a bit of crunch and color by growing Roxanne radishes. And don’t forget the cucumbers. Green Light cucumbers are seedless, sweet and prolific – great for salads or a refreshing summer drink. Keep a constant supply of these ingredients by making small plantings throughout the season.
Grow several containers of tasty and attractive strawberries. These ever bearing plants will provide a pretty pot of fresh strawberries throughout the summer for your morning oatmeal or afternoon glass of wine.
Plant unusual vegetables you can’t purchase at the grocery store. Roulette pepper has the look and citrusy flavor of a habanero without the heat. And you won’t find anything like Yellow Apple tomato at the store. It has small unique apple-shaped fruit with a citrusy sweet flavor that’s perfect for snacks or stuffing with cheese.
Dedicate some space for those vegetables that are more expensive to buy than grow. Green peppers are a bargain in the summer, but the yellow, orange and red ones can cost two to three times more. Reduce the wait time and increase your enjoyment with early maturing colorful peppers like Orange Blaze or the yellow sweet peppers like Cornito Giallo, Escamillo or Just Sweet.
If you plan to freeze, dry or can your harvest, make sure to reserve some time during harvest season for picking and preserving. Select disease resistant productive varieties like Early Resilience Roma Tomato so you’ll have plenty of produce to preserve.
Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts the “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Her web site is MelindaMyers.com.