Many different plants are grown in home gardens, including fruits, vegetables, berries, herbs and flowers. Several plants are favorites for the experienced and beginner gardener alike. These popular plants can be found in gardens across the country.
Bursting with vitamins and minerals, tomatoes are the most popular garden vegetable in the United States. With many varieties to choose from, tomatoes can be grown in almost any environment. Heirloom varieties, the old-fashioned types probably grown by your grandparents, have the most flavor of any type of tomato. Newer cultivars provide more colors and sizes of tomatoes than ever before. Certain varieties grow best in warmer weather, and others grow best in cooler climates. The Early Girl variety grows best in warm climates. Black Plum, a Russian variety, grows well in cooler conditions. Most tomatoes grow well in the same general conditions: fertile soil, sunlight and a regular watering. Plant seedlings 24 to 36 inches apart. Varieties with expansive foliage and heavy fruit, like the Goliath variety, may require tomato baskets. These wire baskets help hold up the heavy foliage and can be found at garden supply stores. Harvest tomatoes when they are red and firm. Some varieties, like Sun Gold, are yellow when they are ready to harvest.
Best suited for larger gardens, corn is an easy-to-grow garden plant. Yellow, white or multicolored ears of grain grow atop tall stalks. Many varieties are available, including Silver Queen and Northern Sweet. As with tomatoes, most varieties of corn require the same conditions and care. Rich, well-drained soil and an initial application of 12-12-12 fertilizer will get corn off to a good start. Purchase seed from a farm store or garden supply center and plant it 1 to 2 inches deep. Sweet corn requires 1 to 1 ½ inches of water each week, so supplement rainwater during dry spells. Sweet corn is ready to harvest when it reaches the milk stage, or the time when you can pierce the kernels with your fingernail and a milky liquid comes out. This is about three weeks after the silks appear.
Basil is an herb used in cooking, and many gardeners also grow it for ornamental purposes. The foliage of this plant makes it a popular mix with other garden plants. "Purple Basil" has purple leaves and "Lemon Basil" has a lemony scent and flavor. Light and temperature are among the most important requirements for growing healthy basil. Sow the seeds in moist, composted soil. Once planted, the seeds will germinate in about a week. Fertilize once each month and pull any weeds that appear. When harvesting basil, it is best to pick leaves from several stalks, instead of plucking one stalk clean. Harvest the top leaves first, then move lower in subsequent pickings. If you grow basil inside, it will grow year-round. If you grow it outside and want it to continue to grow, simply dig it up and transplant it indoors for the winter.