Easy and low-maintenance veggies to grow in your garden

Fresh vegetables are an essential part of a well-balanced diet—and something you don’t need to leave the house to get. Here, seven of the veggies you can easily grow in your own garden.

While picking up fresh vegetables from your local grocery store or farmer’s market is convenient and enjoyable, it’s even more so when you can pick them from your own little garden. If you don’t have a patch of land to dedicate to an at-home garden, build your own raised bed gardens—they help control weeds and pests so that you can enjoy a longer veggie-growing season. CARROTS

Crunchy and delicious, carrots are an essential root vegetable to have in your garden and are quite easy to grow as long as your seeds are planted in loose, sandy soil.

Planting: Carrots are a cool-season crop, but you can also plant them mid July. Keep your plot of soil free from rocks and if you’re potting them, make sure the pots are deep enough to handle the growth.

Care: It’s important to keep the soil moist for the best germination. As the seedlings develop, apply mulch gradually to maintain an even moisture level and reduce weed problems. Your crop will benefit the most in full sunlight, but they can also tolerate a moderate amount of shade.

GREEN BEANS

One of the most popular vegetables to serve as a side, green beans are also a great addition to your garden as they are super easy to cultivate.

Planting: Whether you’re planning to plant directly into ground soil or in raised garden beds, be sure to plant soil after the danger of frost is gone. Your green beans will thrive in fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. They will also benefit from digging some finished compost into the beds.

Care: Green beans flourish in full sunlight, so it’s important that you sow them where they’ll get a sufficient amount of sun. Keep your garden beds watered so that they stay evenly moist until all seedlings emerge from the soil. At this point, the surface of the soil can dry out between watering.

CUCUMBERS

This vegetable works great in salads, juices and on its own as a snack. It has a number of health benefits, and it’s an easy veg to add to your garden.

Planting: Cucumbers thrive in direct sunlight, so make sure you plant them in a spot that gets full sun. They also require fertile soil, so mix in compost and/or aged manure before planting. Keep the soil moist and well-drained so that it does not get soggy. For an early crop, plant your cucumber seeds indoors about three weeks before you transplant them to your garden.

Care: Your cucumbers will grow quick so long as you water them consistently. They need one inch of water per week, and more if temperatures are high. It’s important to mulch with pine straw to keep pests under control. Using a trellis is great if you have limited space in your garden and also will protect the cucumber from damage as a result of lying on moist ground.

SPINACH

This tender-leafed veggie is the perfect base for all your salads and is a great source of iron and vitamin B2.

Planting: Plant your spinach seeds in soil that has been prepared with aged manure about a week before planting, and place it in a spot where it will get full sun to light shade. It’s important to seed as soon as you can to give spinach the required 6 weeks of cool weather from seeding to harvest, so planting it about 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost in spring is ideal, as well as 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost in the fall.

Care: Keep your soil moist with mulch and fertilize if necessary if growth is slow. Water regularly to ensure a healthy crop.

BELL PEPPERS

Bell peppers are some of the most versatile vegetables to have available in your garden. They add a satisfying crunch to salads, are perfect grilled and even make a great soup.

Planting: Start your seeds off in indoor planters about 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost date, ideally. About a week before they’re ready to be planted in your outdoor garden, make sure to gradually acclimatize them to the outdoor weather conditions and make sure your soil is properly fertilized. Make sure to plant in a bright a sunny spot in your garden as they need about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.

Care: Bell peppers are extremely heat sensitive, so if you live in a very warm or desert climate, watering every day may be necessary to help them thrive. Otherwise, the general rule of thumb is two or three time a week or whenever the soil is dry about 1 to 2 inches beneath the surface.

RADISHES

Whether you like your radishes pickled, grilled or raw, you can easily grow and harvest this tangy root veggie right in your own backyard.

Planting: Add aged manure or organic fertilizer to your soil and plant about 4 to 6 weeks before the average date of spring’s last frost. You can also plant radish seeds in late July or September and still get a harvest. Your radishes will need plenty of sun, or else they will put all their energy into producer larger leaves.

Care: Keep your radish beds moist, but not soaked. You should water them frequently and evenly for quick growth.

LETTUCE

Homegrown lettuce is so much better than store-bought, and you can easily grow and harvest your own.

Planting: Your lettuce seeds will thrive best in loose soil that drains well so it stays moist without staying soggy. Feed your soil with organic matter about a week before you seed. Planting chives or garlic between your lettuce seeds will help control aphids as they act as barriers for the lettuce.

Care: Organic mulch will help retain moisture, keep weeds at bay and soil temperatures cool throughout the warmer months. Lettuce leaves are great at letting you know when they needs water. If leaves are wilting, it’s a sign that you haven’t been watering your lettuce enough.

This article first appeared at http://www.canadianliving.com