Whether you have acres of land or just one raised bed, growing your own veggies is a great way to embrace seasonal eating and add freshness and flavor to your table. If you’ve been considering planting a garden of your own, we have some tips to get you started, courtesy of Farmer Lee Jones™ from The Chef’s Garden®.
Farmer Lee can’t imagine being anything but a farmer. “What would I be if I was not a farmer? Disappointed.” he laughs. With over 30 years in the agriculture business, Farmer Lee is a passionate advocate for regenerative farming and has embraced the idea of healthy soil, healthy vegetables, healthy people, healthy environment.
Farmer Lee’s #1 tip for starting a home garden: have a plan! Turn your enthusiasm into success by taking time to consider things like what you want to grow, where you want to plant (in a garden bed, in a container, etc.). Knowing these things before you start will help set you up for success.
Once you have a plan, the next step is to choose where to start your garden. If you’re planting in your yard, consider things like sun exposure, heat, drainage, and space availability. For example, vegetable gardens need at least half a day of sunlight (full sun is ideal). Look closely at your soil; if it doesn’t drain well, it will become wet and mushy during the spring rainy season. You can either wait and plant later in the spring, or consider using raised beds. Consult this handy map to determine what plants will work best in your climate. Finally, make sure you have enough space to let your plants grow without encroaching on sidewalks or other features.
Now it’s time to start planting! Here are five of Farmer Lee’s favorite veggies for home gardens:
Tomatoes have a relatively quick growing period (about 12 weeks), and they can produce fresh tomatoes every day for up to two months! These plants are perfect for small gardens (even balcony gardens) and will keep you serving fresh Red Salsa all summer.
Green beans are a wonderful source of vegetable protein. Farmer Lee recommends making successive plantings every two weeks to ensure a steady supply and a long harvesting season. Be sure to harvest every two or three days to keep the plants producing new pods! Our Roasted Beet and Green Bean Salad is a perfect dish to showcase your fresh beans.
Kale is a nutrient-dense veggie and surprisingly easy to grow at home! It takes just 6 to 8 weeks to grow and can be harvested continuously through most of the year. Try using your fresh kale in this delicious Kale and Basil Pesto.
Peppers are an easy way to add a rainbow of colors, flavors, and nutrients to your table. Red, green, yellow…plant one or all of them and enjoy these summertime treats fresh from the garden or in Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.
Peas thrive in cool temperatures, so they’re ideal to plant in spring or fall. Since they grow quickly (only about 60 days until they can be harvested), you can plant them close to other vegetables and even along fence lines. Try them in Green Pea Guacamole, a twist on the classic dip.
If you’re still nervous about getting your hands dirty, this At Home Complete Garden Kit comes with everything you need to start a 10’ x 10’ garden. From vegetable seeds to step-by-step instructions, the experts at Farmer Jones Farm® will help you start your own regenerative garden at home.
Whatever you decide to plant, remember to have fun and enjoy the process! One of the most rewarding ways to reclaim a connection with your food is to start growing your own.