Ah, spring. The sun is shining, the trees are budding, and most importantly, the ground is thawing. Interested in growing your own fruits and veggies this season? Here are a few low-maintenance plants you can raise—even as a beginner.
Honeydew is best planted in late spring, when the soil is warm. Build planting “hills” that are about three feet wide and flat on top, in well-spread rows. Dig out small moat-like circles around each mound. Add fertilizer or compost to your soil to help your new plants grow (melons do well with manure). Next, add four to six seeds in each hill, pushing them an inch into the mounds.
In order to enjoy fresh cucumbers all summer long, you need to plant them two weeks after the last frost. Cucumbers require a lot of sunlight and fertile soil in order to flourish, so pick a sunny spot and add lots of fertilizer. Plant the seeds in rows that are six feet apart.
Beets are a great choice for early spring. The plants do well right after the last frost when the ground is cold, but not frozen—they don’t grow as well if it’s too hot. Beets don’t need a lot of space, so they can be grown in pots. If you decide to plant them in the ground, use a garden tiller to make sure the soil is loose and rock-free. Soak the beet seeds in warm water to soften the shells before planting them half an inch in the ground. Spread the seeds out three inches apart. Once the seedlings appear, make sure the soil is consistently moist by watering them often.
It might be a little late for carrots (they’re best planted a few weeks before the last frost), but you can still meet with success if you plant them right now. The orange veggies do best in loose soil that is free of rocks. Plant the seeds three inches apart in rows that are a foot apart. Don’t use manure in the soil or else your carrots may end up growing extra legs (really!).
Tomatoes are sun-worshipers and do best in warm soil, so it’s best to plant them in late spring. Add lots of compost and fertilizer to the soil so that the tomatoes get enough nutrients. The plants also need lots of growing room, so place the seeds far apart.
Peppers are a little trickier to grow if you don’t live in a warm climate. To make them work in colder weather, most gardeners will start by growing the seeds inside and transplant them after 8 to 10 weeks. Begin by putting the seeds in a warm, wet paper towel inside a plastic bag. Once the seeds sprout, they can be moved to a pea pot, and eventually into the ground. They shouldn’t be planted outside until the overnight temperature is 55°F at the lowest.
Unlike peppers, beans are not likely to survive being transplanted. Instead, these plants should be reserved for places with six hours of uninterrupted sunlight. Seeds should be planted one inch into the soil, about three inches apart from one another. If you opted to plant pole beans, keep in mind that they will grow vines and need stakes or trellises to cling to.
Broccoli can survive in colder climates and thrives in slightly acidic soil. Plant the seeds half an inch underground. You can start to fertilize three weeks after planting.
Garlic is a cinch to grow, and as an added bonus, the stinky plant works as a natural insect repellent. It’s normally planted in fall, but early spring is also an option. Plant your cloves two inches into the soil and four inches apart. Make sure to cut off any flower shoots that may pop up in the spring, as they inhibit bulb growth.
Potatoes are a hearty plant that can survive a frost or two, which means they can be planted right at the beginning of spring. Make sure the dirt is slightly acidic and loose—tightly compacted soil leads to malformed potatoes. To plant, cut up a potato and plant the chunks, eye side up, four inches deep. When the stems of the plants reach eight inches, start to cover the bottoms with extra soil. Sunlight makes the potatoes green and bitter tasting, so it’s best to keep them well covered.
Plant onions in soil mixed with compost in early spring. The bulbs should be placed about six inches apart. A steady supply of water is needed for the little bulbs to grow, but they’re heartier than they may appear and can snap back from a drought.
These antioxidant-packed berries are perfect for summer fruit salads. They can be planted in the summer, but early spring yields the best tasting crops. The berries are prone to root rot, so they do best well in a raised bed with rich soil that drains well. Manure or compost will help the fruit really flourish.
Read more: Find out how to grow a garden right in your kitchen!