Many times, simple does not equal “easy.” But with gardening, taking an easier route can make the endeavor much simpler. Some of people’s favorite garden crops are also some of the most problematic, like tomatoes (diseases) and strawberries (slugs and birds). I am not saying you shouldn’t plant those crops, only that avoiding them – or at least, not making them the focus of your garden – can make your gardening life simpler. This is especially if you are a beginner, or have very limited space and would do better to commit to the “sure-things”.
But not even the “sure-things” are always the best choice. It depends on where you live. For example, in Minnesota there are no squash bugs, so zucchini grows like a weed. In Texas, however, squash bugs are the bane of a zucchini grower’s existence and proliferate quickly if not kept in check. On the contrary, Minnesota summers tend to be too moist for bell peppers, which love the drier Texas climate.
So I am forced to speak in generalities here, when listing the “easy” plants. Check with your local extension office to determine which ones are truly easy to grow in your area.
Since I’ve already mentioned them, bell peppers and zucchini are a good place to start. Green beans are generally a great pick (sorry for the pun), as is New Zealand spinach. Garlic is a no-brainer, and slugs and other ground-dwelling leaf eaters tend to leave the dark, leafy greens – kale, broccoli, cabbage, Swiss chard, etc. – alone, due to their bitter flavor.
I don’t want to neglect garden fruits. Blackberries and raspberries need little care to thrive, and some varieties of cantaloupe are terrific producers, even under the care of a less-than-green thumb.
Cucumbers grow like crazy in the North; in the South, they will do the same if you be sure to buy a variety that is acclimated to the humidity (there are not very many).
Don’t be disappointed if I didn’t mention a crop you really wanted to try. Feel free to experiment growing whatever you want, but know that if you want plants you can count on, those mentioned above will make your food-growing more simple.
And remember – if you need a blueprint to help you get a low-maintenance, high-yield organic garden going, check out my e-book How To Grow Vegetables Without Losing Your Mind.
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