by Sandy Swegel
There are so many vegetables you can grow in your garden. If only there was enough time. If you have limited time or space for your garden, think about what is the best return on your investment of time and money when you grow your own food as well as the best outcome of flavor and nutrition. Three things I grow even if I don’t have time to grow anything else are:
Loose-leaf lettuces, spinach, kale, chard, and arugula are up and ready to eat in as little as three weeks after planting. You can pick what you need for tonight’s salad, and let the plant continue to grow for another night’s salad. Baby greens and mixed lettuces cost $6 per pound (and up) at the grocery…and they aren’t necessarily that fresh…sometimes they’ve been traveling in a semi-trailer from California for a week already. Grow your own greens to get maximum nutrition and taste for a couple of bucks worth of seed.
You’ve tasted one of those grocery store tomatoes that look perfect and taste like absolutely nothing? Enough said. You have to grow tomatoes because home-grown tomatoes taste so much better than anything you can buy. But tomatoes have also gotten really expensive. One or two tomato plants easily save you a couple hundred dollars if you regularly eat tomatoes in your salads and sandwiches. Cherry tomato plants are especially prolific.
Fresh herbs are the best way to give oomph to your cooking. They taste so much better than dried herbs and can often star in a simple dish …such as basil leaves served with mozzarella and tomato. Many herbs are perennial (like thyme and oregano) and only have to be planted once. Annual herbs, such as basil and dill produce lots and lots of flavorful leaves.
It’s always fun to grow everything there is to grow, but if you’re strapped for time or space, let the local farmers grow the long-season crops like winter squash, the root crops like onions and carrots, or the water-hogging melons. You’ll be enjoying your own magnificent home-grown healthful salads all season.