Perhaps the revival of the backyard vegetable garden began when First Lady Michelle Obama ripped up the White House lawn in order to plant a vegetable garden. It was the first time a veggie garden had been planted there since the Victory Garden planted at the time of the Second World War. It seems many more urban dwellers are becoming urban farmers as the concepts of food security, local food, slow food and other food movements gain exposure in the media and our minds.
Here’s a quick primer for beginner vegetable gardeners who may be wondering “What vegetables do you recommend for the beginner?”
In spring and fall this is the ideal time to grow cool season vegetables. The easiest among them are lettuces. In fact, in Vancouver you can sow your lettuces outside right now. This is their idea of perfect growing conditions.
Cool season vegetables to grow in spring and fall:
Cool weather herbs would complement any homegrown salad:
When the heat is on in the summer, then it’s time for those warm season vegetables. You can try some easy to grow varieties:
- Swiss chard
- Green and Yellow Beans
- Green Onion
More great herbs to grow during the warm months include:
- Basil ((try a few varieties such as Thai basil, Genovese basil for pesto, Lemon basil)
Think of what you like to eat, and keep an eye on the prices at your grocery store to help you decide what to plant. It would be wise to grow the more expensive vegetables in your garden, such as mesclun greens and arugula, and help save on grocery bills. Start small, look for dwarf varieties of the space hog plants (zucchini, squashes, cucumber) and always always plant cherry tomatoes!! There’s nothing quite like eating ripe cherry tomatoes right off the vine. The ones grown in our vegetable gardens never, ever make it home, let alone to the bike basket for the trip home.
When choosing your vegetable seeds or plants, consider selecting heirloom varieties. Our forefathers carefully stored seeds from their most healthy and most flavorful plants. Heirloom tomatoes that you grow in your backyard (and eat on the way to the door) don’t need to last on the shelf like the varieties sold in the supermarket. What counts most is their flavor, which is why heirloom varieties are making such a strong comeback.