Grow your own vegetables to ensure you know exactly what you’re putting into your body. Countless types of vegetable seeds exist online, at farmer’s markets, in catalogs and from fellow gardeners—the types you choose are left up to personal preference and what will grow in your region. Many vegetables require full sun in order to thrive. Choose heirloom varieties if you wish to save seed back for next year’s crops.
Corn plants are tall, slender yet sturdy and grass-like in appearance. Small plantings have the tendency to fall over during heavy rain and wind, so larger plots generally fare best. Corn is wind-pollinated, so plant in “blocks”--this ensures each plant comes into contact with pollen. Each corn plant produces one crop of a few to several ears of corn. Pests include corn earworm, Japanese beetles, cutworms, raccoons and crows. Types of corn include Silver Queen, Peaches & Cream, Hudson, Dazzle and Golden Bantam.
Set corn seeds 1 to 2 feet apart, and 1 inch deep, in well-drained, organic rich soil. Keep the planting area well watered until the plants are several inches high. Once established, water plants deeply once a week--more often if needed. Mulch the rows to keep weeds down and prevent evaporation.
Bean plants come in bush and vine categories. Bean pods range in size from a few inches to 3 feet long or more. Train beans to run on trellises or some other structure to keep pods off the ground and to aid in harvesting. Beans continue to produce as long as they’re picked or until frost kills them. A few pests include aphids, birds, caterpillars and small mammals.
Use a tiller to turn garden beds thoroughly while adding enough compost to create a loamy soil. Plant spacing depends on the type of beans chosen--follow the seed packet's directions. Mulch each plant with a few inches of compost. Avoid using pesticides, as beneficial insect pollinators will be killed with the bad. Keep picking bean pods as they become ready to harvest--if neglected, the plants will stop producing. Turn bean plants under when you’re ready to stop harvesting.
The mixed-greens family contains collard greens, mustard greens and other edible, leafy greens. These vegetables grow well when planted for fall harvests but will grow during hotter months. Greens are rich in iron, vitamins A and C and calcium. Harvest greens when young for the mildest taste, as older foliage tends to be bitter. Exactly when to harvest your greens is a matter of personal preference. Leaf lettuce grows well under the same conditions as pot greens. A few pests include aphids, caterpillars, deer and rabbits.
Broadcast seeds over a large area. There is no need to thin the plants if you’re planning on consistently harvesting young leaves. If your goal is for larger plants, thin plants so that they have enough space to comfortably mature. Greens prefer very rich soils and deep, weekly watering. Ensure each plant has plenty of mulch. Provide plant with full sun to partial shade. Shading plants helps to prevent bolting in hotter climates.