It’s finally May! Not quite summer, but for most of us, the last of the snow has come and gone. This means it’s the perfect time to start planning for your summer garden!
Never gardened before? Now’s the time to give it a go.
Why? First off, most of us are currently following strict shelter-in-place guidelines, which means we’ve got a bit of extra time at home. Plus, growing and tending your own veggies can reduce the number of trips to your local grocery store, provide excellent exercise, and can be an entertaining activity for the entire family.
Still not swayed into the art of gardening? How about a bit of science?
Turns out studies link gardening with lowered blood pressure, increased bone health, eating healthier (thanks to growing your own healthy veggies and fruit!), decreased levels of stress, and overall increased happiness. Plus, gardening is an incredible boon for certain mental states of mind! Along with decreasing stress and increasing happiness, gardening can help you practice acceptance, move past perfectionism, connect with the larger world around you, and develop an appreciation for being present.
Of course, there’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to gardening, yet nothing that you can’t handle!
A great place to start is by choosing the appropriate veggies and fruits to grow that match your abilities. This means taking stock of your outdoor (or indoor) space, the time you want to put into your garden, and, most importantly, what you like to eat!
To get you started, here are a few incredibly hardy and easy to grow fruits and veggies for first-time gardeners!
Zucchini is not only among the most popular vegetables in a plant-based kitchen, but it’s also one of the easiest to grow! A single zucchini plant can produce a boatload of squash making it a prolific, crazy growing veggie that’s somewhat hard to kill. Make sure to space your plants out, as zucchini can take over an entire garden patch! These Organic Non-GMO Golden Zucchini Squash Seeds are a unique variety! While you may be used to the dark green, semi-speckled variety, these are bright golden, delicious, and distinctive. A pack of 25 seeds costs $5.97.
Heliotrope says “We make shish kebobs in summer with this squash, green and red sweet peppers, mushrooms and marinated meat or shrimp, sometimes alternate with the green or white zucchini or marinated eggplant cubes, onions. Okay in the oven, even better on the grill. Nice in stir-fries or soup or cooked with green beans or other vegetables. Golden zucchini has a nice mild flavor, complements so many other foods, and you can make good zucchini bread with it.”
Berries are simply good for you. They’re filled with antioxidants, are low on the glycemic index (low impact on your blood sugar), and are naturally sweet! Berries, especially raspberries, are quite easy to grow too! They don’t need too much love and attention and can thrive off of little water. Make sure to be mindful of pruning as a raspberry bush grows very fast and can get out of control quickly if not tended too regularly. These Elever Adorable Organic Everbearing Raspberry Seeds produce a robust and versatile berry that is very large, bright red, pure, strong, and sweet! Plus, it provides a long fruiting season at approximately 50 days. A package of 100 seeds costs $5.00.
Green beans! A standard in a plant-based kitchen and a great source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. With that said, not all green beans are created equal when it comes to being easy. If you’re a beginner, go for a bush bean over a pole bean. Pole beans can be a bit more temperamental and require something to grow on. These Brandywine Gardening Organic Non-GMO Bush Bean Seeds produce classic stringless bush snap beans that mature within 55 days during the warm season. They are even marketed as “easy to grow and require little maintenance.” Along with being organic and non-MOG, these seeds have no filler content. A package of 25 or more seeds costs $5.90.
Alison says “These beans are aptly named; they produce and keep producing until it’s too cold for them. An excellent choice for gardeners.”
Strawberries are a ritual go-to plant-based natural sweetener! They’re not only beautiful all by themselves, but when added to smoothies, sweetbreads, cakes and cupcakes, muffins, or even salad they add a bit of color, a dose of vitamin C, a helping of antioxidants (such as beta carotene) and some natural, low glycemic sweetness. Strawberry plants are surprisingly easy to grow as well! Just give them enough space, enough sun, and enough water and they’ll do the rest for you. On top of that, strawberry plants can send “runners” that germinate and create new baby plants all on their own leading to full strawberry patches. These LEANO Organic Non-GMO Giant Heirloom Strawberry Seeds can be grown in a garden, a front porch, or even a balcony. They have a 95 percent germination rate meaning you shouldn’t have a problem getting a few sprouted plants every year! A bag of 100 seeds costs $3.99.
Carrots are a veggie garden staple. As they’re root veggies, they grow underground, so they don’t take up too much room, plus they’re super hardy, which means they’re great for beginners. Get your carrot seeds into the ground in the spring when it’s still chilly or plant later from seedlings. These Isla’s Garden Seeds Rainbow Blend Carrot Seeds will offer a rainbow of color to your meals. They produce luscious, thick, seven-inch roots that are great for juicing! A packet of over 500 heirloom seeds costs $2.49.
Jessica Morales says “I have had great luck with these! I am still a few weeks from harvest but these have grown beautifully! UPDATED: have just harvested our first carrots! They are great and we have lots of variety!”
Tomatoes are heat-loving tropical fruits, but they are also relatively easy for beginners to keep alive. Make sure they’ve got decent drainage, lots of water, and tons of sun! Plus, tomatoes add a pop of beautiful color to your outdoor or indoor garden. These Civilys Organic Non-GMO Super Sweet Tomato Seeds will provide a summer filled with very delicious and nutrient-dense fruit filled with vitamin B1, B2, A, C, and antioxidants such as beta-carotene. A package of 100 seeds costs $3.30.
Okra may not be at the top of your list to cook in the kitchen (even though it could become your favorite!), but it should be topping your list for your beginner veggie garden. Okra is not only heat-loving — perfect for hot summer climates — but it’s also drought-tolerant, which means you won’t need a lot of water (plus, it’ll survive if you forget). These Codemack Organic Longhorn Clemson Spineless Okra Seeds are super easy to grow, non-GMO, and organic! A package of 100 seeds costs $3.99.
Summer isn’t truly complete without a huge, dripping, juicy slice of watermelon and wouldn’t it be just that much more amazing if you grew that watermelon in your own garden? Provide your watermelon lots of sun and lots of water and lots of space and you’re set. Plus, most melons simply fall off the vine when ready to consume due to their weight. These Gaea’s Blessing Seeds Organic Sugar Baby Watermelon Seeds are certified organic, non-GMO, and have a 94 percent germination rate. What will you get? Your seeds will produce very sweet, firm, crisp, and mottled heirloom variety watermelons that are a bit on the smaller side. A package of 50 seeds costs $7.99.
If you can purchase a starter plant from your local nursery, then give that a go first. Otherwise, simply go at it with the seeds! They love heat, so make sure the last frost has passed before planting. Lots of sun, lots of water, and good drainage are all you need. Plus, bell peppers can be on the smaller side, so feel free to plant them in a good-sized pot indoors if you don’t have outdoor space. These Seeds of Change Certified Organic Cal Wonder Red Bell Pepper are non-GMO, organic, and free of chemicals and pesticides. They will arrive in moisture-proof packets with a resealable zipper top. A packet costs $8.97.
Cygnini says “I’ve been buying from Seeds of Change for decades. Love all their seeds and have never had a problem. Buy with confidence.”
If you’re happy with your raspberries and strawberries, then you might as well add some blueberries to your backyard berry patch! Blueberries are one of the richest sources of antioxidants, plus they’re low on the glycemic index making them the perfect pick-and-enjoy healthy snack for you and your family. Just like strawberries and raspberries, blueberries are incredibly easy to grow. Plant in good soil where they get lots of light and let mother nature do most of the work! These LEANO Organic Non-GMO Sweet Crisp Blueberry Seeds will produce wonderful blueberry shrubs with excellent germination. A packet of 50 seeds costs $3.99.
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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