Deciding what to put in a vegetable garden can be a daunting task, especially for those undertaking it for the first time. It's important not only to know what vegetables are suitable for a particular climate and what time to plant them, but it's also vital to know how to give the plants the best head start they can get. For many plants, that means starting them from seeds.
Sweet peppers are one of the most popular and versatile of the seed-producing vegetables. Whether they're green, red or yellow, they're often found in soups, salads, stews, stuffing and garnishes. Seeds can be scooped out of one year's crop, then planted in pots indoors the next winter to start plants for the following summer. Sensitive to cooler temperatures, they are best planted and grown when it won't reach less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. At the other end of the scale, nighttime temperatures of more than 70 degrees can also damage the plants. Sweet peppers are a versatile vegetable in that they can be harvested when they are any size. Generally, they won't reach more than 3 to 4 inches in length, but if they are cut (the preferred way of harvesting) from the plant before that, they will have the same taste as fully grown peppers. As an added bonus, red sweet peppers are an excellent source of antioxidants; all sweet peppers are rich in vitamins A and C.
Pumpkins are great for not just desserts, pies and custards but for decorations as well. While pumpkins will take up a lot of space in the garden (one vine-like pumpkin plant can take 50 to 100 square feet of space), they have an advantage over their fellow seed vegetables: the seeds are edible and tasty. Like many vegetables, pumpkins can be damaged by colder temperatures and should be planted when there is no more chance of frost and a growing season of several months ahead. Pumpkins are harvested when they turn from green to orange. The orange color is, like the orange color of carrots, a giveaway as to what mineral plays an important part of the vegetable's structure. The human body converts beta carotene to vitamin A. Additionally, pumpkins are also high in potassium.
Tomatoes are a versatile vegetable often found in soups, salads, dressings, stews and sauces. There are a number of different varieties, which vary in height, size, flavor, color, and growing time. Seeds are edible and can be removed from the rest of the tomato flesh before preparation. Some tomatoes, like cherry tomatoes, are often eaten whole just off the plant, with no preparation needed. Harvested during a warm growing season, tomatoes can be prepared in a number of ways, including canning, which ensures their availability throughout the year.
Like many vegetables, tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, potassium and fiber. In addition, they're also a source of lycopene. Currently the subject of scientific research, lycopene is thought to help in the fight against certain types of cancers.