Community gardens are a great way to cultivate relationships with other gardeners and grow vegetables for use, donate, or sell. One of the biggest decisions growers make is which vegetable to plant. If you’re a new or experienced community gardener unsure what to grow, here is a list of the ten best edible plants that will thrive in a community garden.
There are different types of winter squash, including the butternut and acorn varieties. Despite its name, winter squash thrives in hot temperatures and direct sunlight, so it is best to plant it in the spring after the risk of frost has passed. This plant requires little maintenance during the summer.
It’s best to plant carrots in early spring. They can tolerate light frost, grow best in sandy, loose soil, require full sunlight, and only need one inch of water per week. It takes fifty to seventy-five days before they are ready to harvest. To protect the plant from pests, blanket them with a row cover.
Known for its colorful fruit and vivid leaves, eggplant is an excellent addition to any community garden. Eggplant is a warm-weather plant that cannot tolerate frost or cold temperatures and requires full sunlight, so it must be grown in late spring or summer. It’s essential to monitor mature eggplant to avoid overripening.
Kale is another low-maintenance vegetable that can tolerate frost and temperatures as low as twenty degrees. It can be grown and harvested year-round but is planted in spring. When planting kale in a community garden, place it in a sunny area and water it frequently. Unlike other vegetables, kale is resistant to insects and disease and generates leaves throughout its growing season.
Onions are an easy, low-maintenance vegetable to grow. Due to their modest growth rate, plant onions in moist, sandy soil in the spring. Once planted, onions only require a little attention aside from full sunlight, weeding, and watering the plants once a week.
Peppers are one of the more popular vegetables to plant due to the variations in taste, size, shape, and color. These vegetables do best in warmer weather climates and full sunlight. Peppers are weeded, watered weekly, and mulched to preserve soil moisture. They bloom when temperatures fall between sixty and seventy-five degrees. Depending on the pepper type, harvest them at partial or complete maturity.
Swiss Chard is a semi-hardy biennial crop that is similar to kale. It can tolerate light frost but not freezing temperatures. It’s planted in sandy soil between early spring and late summer, thrives in direct sunlight, and matures in fifty to seventy days. It has edible stems and leaves; like kale, it generates leaves throughout its growing season.
Tomatoes are easily the most popular vegetable to plant. Plant tomatoes in spring or early summer when the temperatures are between fifty and sixty degrees. In the Southeast and Western United States, tomatoes grow year-round. Tomatoes need at least eight hours of direct sun each day and watered enough to keep the soil from becoming too dry or too wet. Harvest tomatoes as soon as they are ripe.
Brussels sprouts are hardy plants grown in fertile soil and are harvested late into the calendar year. They are typically grown in the summer and picked in the fall after exposure to frost since cold air gives them a sweeter taste. Because brussels sprouts are cold tolerant, they can be harvested in temperatures as low as twenty degrees.
A cold-tolerant vegetable, plant cabbage in spring or early fall. Water cabbage at least three times a week and expose it to at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. It’s advisable to leave cabbage unattended for brief periods.
Growing your own vegetables in a community garden can be a fun and rewarding experience. Thoughtfully planning what to plant and where increases your chances of a successful crop and heightens the gardening experience. Happy planting!
This originally appeared on Planet Natural.
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.