Penn State University master gardener Sue Konvolinka

Penn State University master gardener Sue Konvolinka plants a garden

Seedlings or small plants:

Zucchini and squash are the easiest vegetables to grow. They grow fast, are simple to maintain and produce many vegetables. Tomato cages or a frame will help to support vertical growth in a small space. Otherwise allow three feet around each plant.

Tomatoes are popular and the “Early Girl” variety is true to its name. They can be planted deep, up to the first leaves, to help establish a stronger root system. Wire cages or tall stakes with fabric ties support stalks and allow sun to reach flowers and fruit. Ideal spacing is two to three feet apart to promote adequate air flow, light penetration and decrease susceptibility to disease.

Cherry or grape tomatoes also provide early harvest and do well in containers on a sunny patio or porch.

Cucumbers are as simple as zucchini and do well growing in tomato cages in small gardens. Their tendrils will act as their own ‘ties’ as they climb upward.

Peppers, both hot and sweet, are easy to grow. They need spacing of one to two feet apart. Directions on plant tags will provide the correct spacing based on the variety.

Onions “sets” are available as a small bulb in most grocery markets, garden and feed stores. Poke a hole one to one and a half inches deep, plant with the point up and cover with soil. Onions grown for greens can be placed close together. Large onions need to be two to three inches apart.

Seed packets:

Beans and peas are fun for kids to grow. They can produce from July until September frost. Plants that are harvested frequently will provide a continuous supply. The more you pick the more they grow!  Two or three stakes spaced evenly apart and twine or string between them, will provide bean tendrils an opportunity to grow vertically for easy harvest and increased production.

Radishes can be started from seed in April or May and again in late August or September. They are a cool-weather crop, will break ground in 2 to 3 weeks, and grow fast.

Lettuce grows easily and tolerates cooler weather. Harvesting lettuce by cutting will encourage new growth and extend the harvest season. Lettuce also grows in containers with an opportunity to move them to cooler, part-shade areas, during hot summer months.

Herbs are easy to grow and thrive best in sun. Harvest before they seed and cut regularly for cooking to extend the harvest season until frost. Herbs grow well in containers. Mint should be limited to containers since its root system can invade a garden. Parsley, if left to seed, will return as a biennial, but is often cut before to avoid a garden invasion. All herbs do well in containers.

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