Backyard Vegetable Garden
What to Plant: getting the best return on effort
Although you will have your own ideas and preferences about what vegetables to grow, this list is developed for people with limited space for a backyard vegetable garden, with a focus on crops that are easy to grow and expensive to buy.
• peas (edible pod)
Peas are one of the first crops to plant in spring, and with a short season of 50 – 60 days, one of the first to harvest. Peas need well-drained soil, and do well in raised beds and large planters. A medium height trellis (3 – 4′) should be provided for the peas to climb. Peas are commonly sown directly into the ground from seeds, and they should be sown thickly. However, they can also be sprouted indoors which can ensure success in damp conditions. (Tip: When sprouting indoors, prepare a shallow dish with water which has a tablet of vitamin C dissolved into it. Set in the seeds to sprout. This will increase the size of the plants and the peas.) Stagger the planting time every two weeks to extend the harvest. Peas also contribute to the health of the soil by fixing nitrogen.
Many varieties are available. Large, head-forming lettuces like iceberg and butterhead can be planted single file in rows, which makes mulching easy, while smaller leafy varieties can be thickly planted in swaths 24″ wide for a ‘self-mulching’ effect. Ideally, grow several verieties of each type. Small lettuce transplants can also be interspersed throughout the garden wherever there is room.
A common problem with lettuce is ‘bolting’. Bolting occurs when the plant goes to seed and the leaves stop growing. Bolting is caused by temperatures which are consistently too high…