Many home gardeners like growing baby vegetables--smaller versions of regular-size vegetables--because they take up less space in the garden and are ready to harvest sooner. In addition, many specialty baby crops, particularly summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers and eggplant, taste better because they contain fewer seeds and more flavor. When it comes to gardening baby vegetables, you must select certain varieties, grow them closer and harvest them early. But other gardening basics, such as growing conditions, watering, fertilizing and weeding, follow those for standard-size vegetables.
Growing Baby Vegetables
Select your vegetables. Look for varieties cultivated specifically to produce small produce. Possible varieties include: Parmex carrot; Short Tom eggplant; King Richard leek; Nickel French fillet bush bean; Lemon cucumber; Kestrel beet; Golden Midget sweet corn; Baby Green lettuce; cherry tomatoes; fingerling potatoes; and petite pois peas. If you are unable to find specialty vegetables, use standard-size vegetable seeds or starter plants and apply different gardening techniques when planting and harvesting them.
Plant your seeds or starter plants in rows in nutrient-rich soil where they will receive good sunlight. If using standard-size vegetable seeds or starter plants, place them close together. By crowding the plants, it gives vegetables little space to grow to regular size. Most baby vegetable varieties also require closer spacing than regular varieties.
Keep an eye on the vegetables as they grow and harvest them when they are small. Pick beets, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers and brussel sprouts when they are about 1 to 2 inches round. Harvest lettuce, spinach, zucchini, cucumbers, cauliflower, eggplant, onions and kohlrabi when the leaves of the plant or the actual vegetable are 4 inches long. Pick baby corn once its ears reach 6 inches in length.