If you’re just starting to flex your green thumb, it can be daunting to pick just one or two vegetable plants to grow. The information I’m about to provide is applicable no matter what size yard (or bright apartment window) you have at your disposal.
Plant things you will actually use/eat/cook!
I cannot say this enough. Yes, it’s very exciting if you decide that you are going to grow horseradish root because none of your friends grow it and you want to stand out. But ask yourself: do you like horseradish? Do you like it enough to put in the time and energy to grow it and then have far more horseradish than you know what to do with?
Or you might decide to grow some cilantro on your windowsill. Do you use cilantro? Are you one of those people (like my husband) who thinks cilantro tastes like soap?
I imagine you will feel rather silly as you are trying to give away horseradish root to everyone you meet. Just as silly as trying to “like” cilantro if all you can do is think of handsoap when it touches your tongue. Do yourself a favor and pick something you like and will eat. My very first days of growing things in my Aerogarden consisted of nothing but herbs: basil and chives. And I cooked with them! Or sometimes just ate them by themselves…
This year will be the first fall and winter that we are in our house. We bought our home last October and then were gone for the first month of 2017 so I didn’t have much of a chance to grow any fall/winter crops. In addition to the lettuce and arugula, I plan on growing some red kale (!), as well as broccoli, and brussel sprouts! I opted for non-traditional varieties of each to bring a little more color to the drab landscape that is the Pacific Northwest during our lengthy rainy season. As I said before, the kale is a deep reddish burgundy and both the broccoli and brussel sprouts should have a purple-ish hue to them. All three of these are things that we already eat in our day-to-day lives and I am looking forward to being able to put a bit more on the table during the colder months when my tomatoes and peppers will be just a memory.
If you live in an apartment or condo without any outdoor space, your best bet would be to grow herbs in a sunny window because they don’t require a lot of space and you can fit quite a few in a relatively narrow pot (perfect for the depth of a windowsill). You might even be able to grow a small pot of lettuce if the space gets enough sun. If you have a deck or patio, you have even more options as many seed companies are now carrying varieties of vegetables that are well-suited for containers! You might have noticed in the picture above that I ALSO got seeds for eggplant and two varieties of squash. These three are all summer plants as they require a lot of heat. I may already be a little late in starting them (planted seeds this past weekend) but I’ll give it a shot. I chose all three of these varieties because they were tolerant of being planted in containers and their vines don’t get super long. The fruits are smaller but when it is just my and my husband we probably don’t require plants that produce high yields of very large fruits. I tried to find some or all of the seeds pictured above in my local garden store but unfortunately their selection only covers the basics and not the more unusual or specialty varieties. That was also part of the reason I ended up ordering some summer-planting seeds; the shipping is flat rate so I figured it wise (and cost-effective) if I just bought more seeds now instead of deciding in a few months that I would like to order something else. I want to believe that this will be my last order for many months. I do think that I will try growing potatoes in a large pot but I can get seed potatoes from my local garden store when the season for that gets closer.
I would love to be able to grow some citrus trees (oranges or perhaps lemons) but sadly it comes back to my point of growing “what you can.” Our climate up here just isn’t suited for keeping citrus outside all year round. At some point in the fall or winter, one has to bring the small varieties indoors and that doesn’t appeal to me.
There are all kinds of setups, gadgets, and gizmos to help you grow things indoors and out but prices can vary and these things may not be practical. I don’t focus on these things because I would rather gear my posts to a wider audience instead of just those who can buy the fancy things. If you grow some herbs on your windowsill and decide you love this kind of thing, it’s 100% okay to splurge on a hydroponic kit to help you grow more things. Start small and start smart!