What is the Easiest Produce to Start Growing?

0fe63a4By: Meaghan Malinowski, MidAtlantic Farm Credit

Making the decision to begin a garden or a CSA is a big step in living a more sustainable life or generating income from farming your land. However, all crops are not created equal in terms of hardiness and required care levels. Some plants thrive being left alone after planting, while others will need “a hand” in keeping their heavy produce laden limbs off the ground. Listed below are some of the top “easy-to-grow” crops found in the Mid-Atlantic region to be favored by farmers and families alike!

Popular Vegetables in the Mid-Atlantic Regionproduce

  • Tomatoes – Tomatoes can be grown either in the ground or in a container as long as they are placed in a sunny spot that will receive at least eight hours during the day. Don’t forget to support the plant by tying it to a stake of at least four feet high or by using metal cages.
  • Sweet Peppers – Peppers don’t usually tend to have pest problems, however the same precautions you take with your other plants should be practiced with your peppers to keep disease at bay. Also, like tomatoes, they’ll need a support structure to keep heavy limbs off the ground.
  • Lettuce – Loads of lettuce can be grown in a smaller space then most vegetable plants and many varieties are pretty frost resistant. Most gardeners report the best harvest when planting a month before the last frost in the spring and a month before the first frost in the fall.
  • Onions – A hardy, cold-season crop that is most successfully harvested when planted as a set, also known as an immature bulb. Keep your onion patch well weeded and try to water directly to the onion roots for optimum growth.

Popular Fruits in the Mid-Atlantic Region

  • Strawberries – No matter the type, make sure to plant your strawberries in full sun. Each plant should be placed two feet apart since eventually the runners in between will fill in the space with a mat of plants.
  • Figs – Even if you’ve never had a fig before, there are many recipes for jams, jellies, and other dishes that make the fig a favorite of many. This fruit tree doesn’t need constant pruning to provide a good harvest and can even be grown in a container.
  • Blackberries – When you first plant your blackberry plant, you’ll want to cut it down to about six inches tall to promote growth of a strong root system. You won’t get a harvest from the first year, but if you take care of it well, it can provide for up to 15 years.
  • Raspberries – The root system of a raspberry bush tends to be a little picky and requires a well-drained soil to avoid root rot. Like blackberries, raspberries should be kept out of areas where tomatoes or peppers have been grown in the last three years to avoid the spread of diseases and pests.

Popular Herbs in the Mid-Atlantic Region

  • Basil – An indoor and outdoor favorite, basil requires six or more hours of sunlight a day and fertilizing about twice a season. Keeping the flowering parts of the basil plant pruned will keep the leaves from becoming bitter and will encourage faster growth.
  • Chives – Chives should be planted in early spring in a fertile, well-drained soil. If you choose not to eat the pretty, edible flowers that result from the plant, you can always pinch them off to encourage more leaf growth.
  • Rosemary – In warmer climates, rosemary can act as an aromatic hedge however, in the Mid-Atlantic region, it would be wise to grow yours in a container that can be brought inside during cold weather.
  • Lemon Balm – This herb can spread out quite a bit over time, taking up a bigger space in your garden year after year. Cutting the plant to just a few inches tall a few times during the growing season will keep the plant from seeding and spreading.

Before you jump to sowing your seeds, make sure to do your research to find out more about when and how plants should be planted and harvested to maximize the potential of your crops. Also, keep in mind that the first few harvests should be a learning experience, so take notes on what works and what doesn’t work so you have information to reference when preparing your crops for next year. Got any tips and tricks for any of the items listed above? Comment below and share the knowledge!

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