Veggie Tales: Time to Start Growing

Springtime is a time of growth and new life. The sun is out, the weather is mild and the birds are chirping. So it should go without saying that June is a great month to start planting. Whether you are a seasoned cultivator or a first-timer yearning to see the magic of growing your own little food babies, this is a great time to plant all kinds of edible goodies.

If you are lucky enough to have a yard or small space where you can either plant in the ground or make some raised beds, you will be able to grow a large variety of bigger veggies. But even if you’re doing it in a window sill, you can still grow some nice additions to your dinner plate.

While it’s a little late to be planting fruiting types like tomatoes, peppers or eggplants, there is still plenty of time to sow some seeds this month.

Beans are one of my favorite things to grow. There is an incredibly diverse variety of beans out there, so you are sure to find something that strikes your fancy. Some good types for growing in the city are green beans or snow peas. You can grow either in as little space as a 6-by-12 inch planter and still yield a few meals worth of delicious veggies.

Topcrop Beans are a variety of green bean which produces big juicy pods that are dense on the vine. Contender Beans are another variety of green bean that are nice and sweet off the vine, if you’re more inclined to pick and eat them fresh. Your local nursery will have an abundance of information to help you find the bean that’s right for you.

Another favorite vegetable of mine to plant this month is the carrot. Many think only a raised bed or plot of earth is suitable to grow these sweet treats, but you can get away with growing some very nice baby or mid-size carrots in as shallow of a planter as 5 inches.

Little Fingers are excellent and grow quite fast, and sometimes you can get away with a few harvests by the end of the season.

If you do have room to do something more suitable to larger varieties of carrots, there are some beautiful heirloom varieties out there composed of purples, yellows and oranges, and have a variety of flavors ranging from savory to sweet. Also good for these bigger situations are good ol’ Scarlet Nanes, which take a little longer to grow than other types, but are larger and have a good flavor balance between savory and sweet.

Okay, so you don’t have all this room. You’re looking for something more like a 6-by-12 inch window sill planter to fit over your kitchen sink or in your bathroom window. In this case, herbs are always a great way to start and can be a good addition to many, many meals. Basil, oregano and thyme are easy to grow and bring not only flavor, but a range of vitamins into the meal. These types of herbs are rich with vitamins K, A and C, and minerals like magnesium, iron and calcium.

If you want to grow some bigger herbs, and have the room for it, dill and cilantro are great. A good thing about these is that if you forget, or end up not harvesting for whatever reason, they produce nice looking white and yellow flowers.

All of these ideas are relatively inexpensive. The combination of a small window planter, and some soil and seeds usually costs in the $10-$15 range. Building a raised bed is a little pricier, but for $30 upon initial startup, you can easily produce three times that value out of your crop while also adding some flavor and flare to your culinary endeavors.

-Joshua Loran