By Julia West
Summer is the ultimate gardening season. Nothing says summertime like strolling by colorful vegetables at farmer’s markets or snacking on fresh fruits. Because fresh produce is at the peak of its production in this season, crops can easily be grown anywhere — even in your own yard. Growing delicious vegetables, fruits and herbs in your own garden is not only a fun hobby, but a fun way to save some money too. Who needs grocery store produce when you can get it from your new home’s yard?
Starting a garden may seem like a tough job — fear not! There are a few simple things to consider when in the planning process. First, think about the sun patterns throughout your yard. Almost all summer crops require long, sunny days, so you may need to rearrange existing plantings to get plants in the best spot.
If you are concerned that your edible garden might make your yard look too farm-like, look for ways to integrate your crop patch with other outdoor spaces to get the most use, value and joy from your garden. For an extra tidy look, try using raised beds. Many edibles are low-to-the-ground plants which can be a bit boring for a yard landscape. Raised beds not only add some design interest to a space, but can make it easier to care for plants, as it’s less physically strenuous to pick crops from higher levels. (If your new home’s HOA rules prevent you from putting a raised bed in your front yard, there’s always the back yard and container gardens if your only have a patio or deck.)
Once you have the basic structure of an edible garden, it’s time to do some planting! Here are some ideas on the easiest-to-grow crops that you can have in your garden this summer:
Because cucumbers thrive in hot weather, they are perfect summer vegetables. Its high water content makes it a refreshing crop full of vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Whether you want to place hydrating slices on your eyes for a nice lounge by the pool or throw them into fresh salads, cucumbers are a summer essential.
There are many interesting varieties of this plant, including Lemon cucumbers, Boston Pickling cucumbers and Armenian cucumbers. (Photo courtesy of Seed Savers.)
All varieties of peppers share a preference for a long, warm growing season. This vegetable is a classic garden favorite because of the large variety available to grow.
From sweet bell peppers in shades of yellow, orange or red to spicy habaneros, peppers are always useful in the kitchen. Whether you grow an assortment of peppers or just one kind, having some around will add pops of color and zest to your garden and cooking. (Photo courtesy of Eden Brothers.)
Tomatoes are known to be an ultimate summer crop. Because they need full sun and heat, leaving them to soak up the summer sun is easy to do! Nothing beats plucking this fruit from the vine and throwing it into a homemade salsa or spaghetti sauce.
If summer had a flavor, it would have to be the tomato. There are tons of different varieties to try out including Roma, Cherry and Heirloom tomatoes. (Photo courtesy of Tori Avey.)
Basil really takes off in hot weather, making it a must-have herb in gardens in the summer season, particularly for those who love to cook. If you like basil, you’ll love having the ability to pick fresh leaves off the plant to throw right onto a pizza or in a tomato sauce.
You can easily grow this tasty herb in garden beds or containers. Give your garden and cooking a zesty touch by using varieties, such as sweet basil, spicy globe basil and Thai basil. (Photo courtesy of 2 Witches 1 Blog.)
Strawberries need full sun to produce the best fruit. Increasing the amount of sunlight that your strawberries receive will result in more berries — and you can never have too many! Strawberries are easy to grow because they can prosper in different locations.
You can plant them in the ground, in a raised bed and even containers like pots or hanging baskets. The uses for strawberries are endless. Throw them in your next baking experiment, on your yogurt or simply eat them right off of the stem. (Photo courtesy of Sage Landscapes.)
Who knew how easy having your own edible garden could be? With a couple of gardening tips and easy-to-grow plants, you could have the best summer harvest ever!
Julia West is a content intern for NewHomeSource. You can find her on Google+.