25 January 2013, by gj
Many gardeners find themselves limited as to what they can grow.
It might be because of the amount of room they have, the free time to spend in the garden, or the physical demand a garden requires.
Of course there are gardening techniques and practices that can help in each of these areas.
For today though, let’s look at how to decide what to plant, and what not to. It all depends really on what you want your garden to provide:
1. Financial savings. If saving money is your top priority, you are not alone. So what veggies are expensive in the stores but easy to grow? Raspberries would probably top the list, expensive mainly because they are difficult to ship. Herbs are another food item that can be quite pricey, yet most do well in pots or hanging planters. For some odd reason lettuce has become expensive, at least in our area. A small head sells for almost $2, are they serious? Conversely, dry beans and potatoes are relatively inexpensive all year.
2. Fresh eating or long term storage. Are you mainly looking for a variety of fresh produce or do you want to load up the pantry shelves? If its the former, then one or two tomato plants, a variety of fresh greens, one cucumber, peas and beans growing up a trellis, etc. can provide you with a mini produce department from spring until fall. If winter storage is the goal, potatoes, garlic, onions, and sweet potatoes can be held through most of the winter. Dry beans will last for years, and there are pole varieties that save space.
3. Self Sufficiency. If your concern is more for the future you would probably want to plant heirloom and open pollinated varieties of plants, so the saved seeds will continue to produce true to the parent. A variety of veggies that includes at least one protein, such as a dry bean, will offer the most nutrition per garden. Shoot for color- orange sweet potatoes, carrots or squash, a red tomato or berry, purple eggplants and dark green broccoli. This will arm you with a good balance of vitamins in your diet. Also consider some perennials plants or those that can be replanted like onions, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
4. Food Safety. This is becoming an increasing concern for many, and is one of the reasons they are turning to their own yards. Some of the veggies with the highest levels of pesticides were found by the FDA and USDA to be Celery, Peaches, Strawberries, Apples, Blueberries (Domestic), Nectarines, Sweet Peppers, Spinach, Kale & Collards, Cherries, Potatoes, Grapes (Imported), Lettuce, Blueberries, and Carrots. Here’s the complete list.
This list is now 5 years old, and since then I have read that summer squash is also loaded with pesticides. Geesh.
In addition GE corn, which is now headed to some markets, is very heavily sprayed with pesticides. If you’re looking to grow food that is safer to eat, keep this in mind.
This subject came up a few times lately, and after much consideration here’s what we would grow if for some reason we had to downsize:
A few raspberry canes, 2 blueberry bushes, 1 small vining summer & 2 winter squash and peas & beans on trellises, carrots, kale, a few strawberry plants, ‘garbage can’ potatoes, pole dry beans and 2 celery plants. If there was room, then a tomato or two.
We would buy organic corn just to be safe.
How and what would you choose?