Selecting Vegetable Plants & Seeds

Growing your own vegetables is one of the most rewarding activities of the summer. It may appear to be a daunting project, but if you start out slowly, you’ll be harvesting your own food before you know it. Regular feeding, weeding and watering plus plenty of sun is really all you need.

If you do not have a great deal of time, choose only one or two vegetables and learn as you go. Most vegetables need at least some full sun, so if your yard is completely in the shade, look for an alternative location such as a community plot or a container that may sit on a sunny walkway, patio or deck.

Plan ahead

  • Make a list of the vegetables you like to eat.
  • Consider starting with tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, and beans, because they’re easy for the beginner to grow.
  • Plant vegetables from the same families together so you can rotate the crops the next year to prevent the transmission of soil-borne diseases.

For a more attractive garden, add a little color from herbs or edible flowers. Marigolds, nasturtiums and pansies are popular.

Start with Seeds

By far the most economical way to grow vegetables is from seed. Seed catalogs and garden centers have an abundance of seeds from which to choose. Seed packets clearly explain when and how to plant for your particular area of the country. If you are growing plants from seeds, start the seeds indoors about two months before the last expected spring frost. Keep in mind that growing certain vegetables from seeds, such as tomatoes, requires patience and particular care instructions. Other seeds, such as beans, can be planted directly in the soil with great results.

Often, it is much easier to let your local nursery do the work and simply purchase your vegetable plants from there. Look for pot-grown plants with healthy, green leaves and no flower bunches. The plants should have white roots. Avoid plants with yellow, thin, straggly stems.