Many gardeners enjoy growing plants that provide produce for the table. Although flower gardens enhance a landscape with their color, beauty and fragrance, vegetable gardens supply fresh, nutritious ingredients for use in recipes or canning and preserving. The best plants to grow in your garden include varieties that you enjoy eating. Also, consider the individual characteristic of each plant and choose ones that are easy to grow and offer quality produce without a large amount of time and expense.
One of the most commonly grown vegetable plants is actually a type of fruit. The way these plants reproduce adheres to the way fruits reproduce, earning them this classification. Tomatoes come in a variety of sizes, colors and flavors, making them some of the best plants for eating fresh in salads and canning in sauces and salsas. Tomato plants require full sunlight to produce large amounts of fruit. They are warm season plants, meaning they easily succumb to cold, freezing temperatures. Place these in your garden after the final frost, when soil temperatures begin to warm up in the spring. Tomato plants appreciate slightly acidic to neutral soils that contain a pH level between 6.5 and 7.0. Like many types of juicy plants, tomatoes require adequate moisture in the soil. An average of 2 quarts of water each day will help your tomato plants produce abundant fruit. Provide support to tall and heavy specimens throughout the summer.
Potatoes grow easily and rapidly in a variety climates and locations. These crops require little care and begin growing before most other types of vegetables. This cool-weather crop includes varieties like sweet potatoes, russet potatoes and Irish potatoes. Many gardeners in semi-tropical climates where the soil does not freeze grow these plants throughout the winter. In cooler climates, the best time to plant these tuberous vegetables is in the spring, as soon as the soil is workable. They prefer well-drained soils that are high in organic matter, but tolerate a variety of soils. Plant the potato segments about 3 to 4 inches below the surface of the soil and keep the soil slightly damp near their roots. Harvest your potatoes before the heat of summer, when production begins to slow down.
Summer squash includes varieties like zucchini that grow well in the warm, summer months. Unlike winter squash, summer squash requires plenty of warmth to survive. Plant squash in a large area of your garden in the spring after the final frost. These plants require adequate space in the garden, so allow at least 4 to 6 square feet of surface area for each plant. The sprawling, spreading growth of these plants chokes out nearby weeds. However, make sure to clear the planting site before planting the seeds, since the seedlings must grow before they can compete with nearby weeds. These plants grow in a variety of soils but prefer moist, well-drained compositions. Keep these plants slightly moist by watering frequently and mulching with straw.