I love to start all of my fruits, vegetables and herbs from seeds, and although I do very well, I can sit here and honestly say that all of my efforts are not successful. In fact, this past season my cantaloupe did not fair as well as I had hoped, but my eggplant on the other hand were the best crop I have had in my life. That’s just the nature of vegetable gardening. Just when you think you have one crop mastered, you have a bad season with it. Maybe that is par for the course.
Regardless of the ups and downs of different crops I seem to do extremely well with the same crops every year when I start them from seeds.
One of the fastest growing vegetables that I start from seeds, radishes will yield two crops in the late-winter to early spring and again late-summer to early winter. Many varieties produce in as little as 45 days, and make a great addition to a salad. I do not start radishes indoors as I don’t see the need since they produce so quickly.
What would a list be without tomatoes on it, especially when I am from the garden state and all the bragging we do here about Jersey tomatoes. I will say that some years I do great and less often I do just ok, but I have never had a season where I did not get an ample crop of tomatoes. I always start my seeds indoors around the beginning of March, then will move them to the outdoor greenhouse in bigger pots until the weather warms up enough at night so that I eventually put them in their final spot in the garden. Top advice? Pick a spot in your yard that receives direct sunlight from morning until night time for best results. That’s what works well for me.
A neighbor once told me, zucchini grows so fast that you literally watch it grow before your eyes. I can not disagree. I have had plants where on one day a new zucchini growth is about an inch long and the next day (ok maybe two) it was ready to be picked. I will start zucchini indoors just like tomatoes. Unless you either have a large family, plan on feeding the neighborhood or donating a lot to local food pantries, just a couple of zucchini plants will suffice. They produce so much so quickly that many, especially new gardeners, put in about 6 plants and then harvesting zucchini becomes a full time job. I always grow 3, which for me, seems to be plenty.
Last season I had the best cucumber crop in my life. I was literally giving away about a dozen to two dozen per week. I had 9 plants going which is more than what I normally do, but in previous years my surplus was around a few every week. Just like my tomatoes and zucchini I start cucumbers indoors. For me personally I always grow vining types such as the straight eight. For best results use a trellis. I built my own out of some left over wood pieces and some netting. It took about 20 minutes to throw it together. This gives the cucumbers a chance to climb and spread out. I start my cucumber seeds indoors, and like tomatoes, won’t move them outdoors until the temperatures at night have warmed up enough.
Every gardener has their favorites, these happen to be the ones I have had the easiest time with and the most success. I’ll cover herbs in a future article. They are very fun and easy to grow as well.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the Seeds Club.
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