(Family Features) Growing fresh, healthy vegetables at home isn't as hard as it may sound. Novice gardeners just need good dirt, easy plants to grow, lots of sunshine and the right amount of water.
Once you've prepared your garden plot, select one or all of the following vegetables, and then get growing:
- Lettuce - Plant lettuce seeds directly into the garden or a pot then repeat every two weeks throughout the spring. It can be cut a few weeks after planting. Some harvest lettuce by pulling it up - roots and all - but cutting a little off the top every few days will keep it growing until summer's heat turns it too bitter.
- Spinach - This vitamin-packed green is planted and harvested just like lettuce.
- Cucumbers - Once the danger of frost has passed, make several mounds of dirt near the edge of your garden and place 2-3 plants around the center of each. Cucumbers are notorious for growing vines that overtake other plants. So, be vigilant about keeping them contained.
- Squash - Like cucumbers, summer squash is planted on small mounds at the edges of a garden so their vines can be contained. Most varieties, such as yellow squash and zucchini, are quite prolific and just a few plants will feed a large family all summer long.
- Green Beans - Early in the spring plant green bean seeds directly into the soil. They should be planted in a long row under a tall fence, trellis or other support system. They love to climb. Sow out more seeds every two weeks for a continual harvest through the summer.
- Tomatoes - Purchase plants from your local garden center, making sure to get those which grow best in your area of the country. All plants should be staked or enclosed in a tomato cage because successful plants produce an abundance of large, heavy fruit throughout the summer months.
- Radishes - Radish seeds should be planted directly into the soil as early in the spring as possible. Keep planting new rows every two weeks until mid-spring. They grow quickly so should be checked and harvested often. Once summer sets in, radishes become spongy and too hot to eat. So, enjoy early in the season.
- Bell Pepper - Bell peppers are easiest to grow from plants. Space them about a foot apart and then watch them take off. Little care is required. The only real trick to growing bell peppers is knowing when to harvest. If you're growing red, orange or yellow varieties, they'll start out green then turn color as soon as they ripen.
- Carrots - Dig a long, shallow trench in soil that is free of rock. Sprinkle the seeds along the row, cover lightly with topsoil and wait for the top of the carrot to pop through the soil. Once a bit of orange appears, pull and enjoy.
- Beets - Nothing beats a beet for its earthy, sweet taste. They should be planted from seed as soon as the ground can be worked in early spring.