By Barbara Raskauskas, Yahoo! Contributor Network
I conducted my own study, comparing the price of vegetable seeds and how much a plant can yield against the price of store-bought vegetables. The results show that you can save money growing your own vegetables. Add to that the personal satisfaction of eating what you harvest makes growing vegetables a rewarding experience. If you have kids, they too may be fascinated by the growth and harvesting of vegetables.
The beauty of organic gardening is that it relies on nature and natural elements to grow vegetables. Amend the soil, if desired, by working 2 to 4 inches of dried leaves or manure down to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. The soil amendment will decompose and provide vegetables with natural nutrients. With a good soil base, you are on your way to growing vegetables for cooking, freezing, canning, or eating fresh. Plant vegetables after the danger of spring frost, which could be April or May.
1. Tomatoes. Tomatoes are possibly the easiest to grow vegetable. They self-pollinate, so if space is limited, you can set out just one plant. My preference is to use starter plants from the local home and garden center where plant varieties are specifically selected to grow in local soil and weather conditions. Plant verities might be Early Girl or Big Boy. A wire cage or other form of support will be needed to keep the plant upright once tomatoes start to form.
2. Green Beans. The bush variety of green beans, like Blue Lake 274 or Bush Kentucky Wonder, matures in less than 60 days. If planting seeds, push the seeds into the ground to a depth of one inch. Seeds or starter plants should be spaced 3 to 6 inches apart to optimize space. Break off the beans when the pod is firm and the seeds inside are barely bulging.
3. Radishes. Radish needs less than six inches of soil to grow. Plant seeds about 1/2 inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart. I plant my radish seeds indoors in late winter in a window box that I then place on the ground or hang from the fence in mid-spring. Radish varieties like Cherry Belle and Fuego mature in less than 30 days. Radishes are ready for pulling when the top of the radish displays above ground. After harvesting, plant more seeds for a subsequent harvest.
4. Leaf Lettuce. Grow your own salad with green leaf lettuce like the Oak Leaf variety or red left lettuce like the Ruby variety. Plant from seed in the spring, but only plant about half of the seeds in the packet. Barely cover the seeds with soil. Wait about two weeks to plant the remaining seeds so you will have a continuous supply. I like to break off a few leaves for a small salad. When preparing salad for the family, cut the entire plant at ground level using a sharp knife.
5. Green Onions. Green onion is also called bunching onion, and is similar to scallions and spring onion. Green onion needs little soil depth to grow, making them suitable for planting in a window box or small flower pot. Green onions are sold in seed packets or as "sets," which are small bulbs. Possible varieties may include Evergreen or Welsh, but go with what is available in your area. Plant the bulbs one inch deep and almost touching the next onion bulb. If planting from seed, scatter seeds onto the soil (they don't have to be in rows), cover with about 1/2 inch of soil, and then thin to one inch apart when the seedlings are about three inches tall. When the white portion of the green onion is about the diameter of a pencil, it's time to pull the onion from the ground.