Part of the way I keep warm in the winter is to dream about gardening. There’s not a lot of gardening we can do outside right now in frozen Iowa, but we can make garden plans and get ready for spring and summer. Warm weather will be here before we know it. Then we can stop griping about the cold and start griping about the bugs, the heat, and the humidity. There’s always something, right?!
I grow a large, varied garden filled with flowers, herbs, fruit, and vegetables. I like to experiment in my garden, so you’ll always find something new in it. But there are a few tried and true vegetables that I can’t live without. My top five vegetables that I grow over and over each year include garlic, potatoes, cucumbers, green beans, and tomatoes.
Garlic is a relatively easy to grow plant that I love growing. It’s the last thing that goes in the garden in the fall, and one of the first things that comes up in the spring. I love it because home grown garlic tastes amazing, is easy to store, and has lots of great health properties. It’s also a very pretty plant, in my opinion. My favorite type of garlic to grow is
Potatoes are delicious. I first started growing them because I couldn’t find a reliable source of organic potatoes, but now I just enjoy the process. I follow a no-dig potato growing method and they’re one of the first things I plant in the spring. My favorite type of potatoes to grow are Yukon Gold, but I also really enjoy growing a purple variety called Adirondack Blue. Potato plants are very pretty with a lovely flower that comes out just as the plant starts to set potatoes.
Cucumbers are a must in my garden because I love canning them using my grandma’s dill pickle recipe. I honestly struggle with cucumbers because of the dread cucumber beetle, but I manage to get more than enough to can each year with concerted effort. Boston Pickling Cucumbers are my favorite variety to grow.
I grow beans for the family. They’re easy to grow and they taste delicious. My kids love fresh green beans and so do I. I prefer bush beans over pole beans for ease of growing but picking them is starting to take a toll on my back. It is possible to use corn as a trellis for beans, so I might have to shift to growing pole beans up corn, if picking the beans continues to be an issue for me. My favorite green bean variety is called Calima.
Nothing beats the taste of fresh tomatoes straight from the garden. I have taken to using huge, homemade tomato cages for my plants, so I don’t have to stake and prune. There’s lots of argument about the best way to grow tomatoes, but this method works for me! Each year, we can or freeze quite a lot of crushed tomatoes, roasted tomato sauce, salsa, and pizza sauce. This year, I’d like to also can whole tomatoes, something I haven’t done often. My favorite types of tomatoes include San Marzano, Brandywine, Riesentraube, and Purple Bumble Bee!
If you’d like more garden tips and tricks, here’s a sample of the gardening posts you’ll find on Simplify, Live, Love!