Grow these veggies right in your backyard garden without the fuss; they take minimal effort and the results are simply delicious. By: Michelle Klug
February 21, 2013
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Red or golden beets are a great idea for beginning gardeners because they grow fast and are tolerant to soil moisture and sudden drops in temperature. You can also plant seedlings close, which is great for a small garden. Beets will be ripe for the plucking in about 50 days, once the greens are 6 inches high.
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As long as the soil is moist, the weather is warm, and the sun is shining, these green veggies are happy. They require little maintenance, are hardy, and each plant produces multiple cucumbers. Harvest in about 60 days, when the cukes are 4-8 inches long. Chances are, you’ll have more cukes than you know what to do with, so think of salads, soups, and sandwiches.
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Radishes may be the quickest, easiest, and most plentiful vegetable to grow in a garden. This crunchy, peppery root vegetable can be harvested in less than a month and is perfect for a spring garden. Radishes will sprout rapidly and in large numbers, so be prepared to find inventive ways to incorporate them into your meals. Their spicy flavor can jazz up any dull dish.
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Sweet and hot pepper plants will thrive in a sunny spot in your garden. This warm weather veggie is low-maintenance and is very easy to grow right after the last frost. Sweet peppers take 2 to 3 months to mature and hot peppers can take up to 5 months, so allow for a long growing period. Since you will have many peppers ready at one time, think pizzas, sandwiches, stir-fries, and stuffed peppers.
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Heirloom tomatoes are all the rage in gourmet food circles. You can grow your own, and in a breeze! Just like peppers, plant tomatoes in warm weather, a few weeks after the last frost. Allow some sprawl space – up to 24 inches. Depending on varieties, tomatoes can be harvested in about 2 months, when the fruit is firm and uniform in color. There are endless options of cooking with tomatoes, including fresh sauces, salads, and sandwiches.
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Peppery and mustardy, these healthy greens like cool weather and can be planted right after soil becomes unfrozen in the spring, and also in the fall. Mustard greens can be harvested after 45 days, when the leaves are 4 inches long. Try raw in salads or sauté with broth as you would kale.
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Many varieties of green beans are easy and fruitful growers. Since green beans can be implemented into so many recipes, it’s nice to have them in your garden abundantly during warm weather. Harvest beans when firm in 50 to 60 days. You may want to plant green beans in 2-week intervals to break up your bounty. Green beans make a great side dish and are also tasty in pastas, whole-grain salads, and stir-fries.
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Every chef knows spinach is a delight to cook with. But, they don’t know that gardeners don’t have to do too much to get this leafy green to sprout. As soon as the soil loosens in late winter, plant spinach and it will be ready in 6 weeks. Pinch off leaves daily, or as needed, to keep the plant productive through the season.
Try making a spinach salad with raw, garden-fresh leaves, bacon, red onions, and a vinaigrette or sauté in a pan with seasoning.
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In warm, moist, and sunny conditions, summer squash varieties (such as yellow squash and zucchini) are a gardener’s best friend. Squash can easily be grown in containers and each plant produces very high yields. Harvest summer squash when it’s six inches long. As it grows larger, it will lose flavor.
Think of squash in pastas, on pizzas, and in delicious quiche.
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This hardy green plant is a great kitchen companion and an excellent addition to any dish. Broccoli thrives in cool weather, but can tolerate mild heat as well. Harvest broccoli plants before they flower, when the tops are firm.
Broccoli is great steamed or sautéed with a light lemony, butter sauce.
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