A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing Garden Crops

It can be frustrating to choose a set of crops that’ll serve your household and leave some out. Your choice of garden crops will ultimately determine the foods you have available for some time and how balanced your nutrition is, depending on how much you rely on your garden for food. Therefore, you must choose crops that cut across all types of nutrients.

The guide to choosing the right garden crops as a beginner involves understanding the factors that influence your garden’s productivity. You can choose different vegetables to provide the necessary food choices for your home. They can include corn, beans, watermelon, squash, cucumbers, and lettuce.

This beginner’s guide to choosing garden crops will help you to make the right crop choice to grow in your garden. It will help you understand the factors to look out for when making your garden crop choices and how to combine them.

Choosing the right garden crops

Categories of Garden Crops

Garden crops are grown to provide accessible foods to a community or household. They are usually the first food source for those that produce them, contributing to their daily nutritional intake.

The differences among garden crop types are based on their nutritional composition, growth habit, and physical appearance. However, choosing the right ones depend on many factors. Generally, a garden will contain crops ranging from vegetables to tubers, legumes, and trees. Therefore, you can choose your garden crops from these categories of crops.

Vegetables

Vegetables are the commonest class of crops you’ll find in any garden. They are usually easy to grow but demand some attention. Growing vegetables in your garden provide you with short-term growing crops that you can harvest to feed your household at your convenience. However, they can be difficult to store, although it’s achievable with the right method.

There are two types of vegetables, fruit and leafy vegetables. Fruit vegetables are those vegetables that have edible fruits. They include tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and strawberries, among others.

vegetables

Leaf vegetables are those whose leaves are the primary or only edible parts. They are usually easy to grow and mature quickly. However, they are also susceptible to some pest and disease attacks. Some of the leaf vegetables you can have in your garden include spinach, broccoli, kale, and lettuce, among others.

Tubers

Tubers characteristically grow their edible part beneath the growth medium. They are usually rich in carbohydrates and are relatively easy to grow. They don’t require as much attention as vegetables and are perfect for beginners in gardening.

Some tubers you can consider for your garden include potatoes and carrots. If you have the space and climate, you can add yam and cassava.

Legumes

Legumes provide a nutritional balance to your household diet as they contain many proteins. They are not the easiest garden crops to grow, but they are essential for their nutritional composition.

They are also important in improving the nitrogen availability in your garden soil through their symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Legumes are mostly available as seeds.

Legumes

Some legumes you should add to your garden include soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts.

Seeds

It’s common to assume that all crops are grown from seeds, but that’s not the case. Many garden crops are grown from other parts of the plants, such as their stem or leaves. They provide some nutrition to your household and should be part of your garden.

Seeds provide different nutrients as they’re available as leguminous or starchy food sources. Common seeds your garden should produce include corn, peas, and amaranth.

Bulbs

They are not the commonest class garden crop choices, but they are essential in completing the nutritional supply from your garden. Bulbs grow similarly to tubers, but they provide more vitamins and minerals. They add unique flavors to your dishes and are worth having in your garden.

Some of the bulbs you should have in your garden include onions, turnips, radishes, and garlic.

Factors that determine your choice of garden crops

While having as many crops as you like in your garden is tempting, it takes work to manage them all. Therefore, you should consider some factors that will help you determine the right garden crops. They include:

Geographical location

Regardless of where you reside, you can have a garden. However, the nature of your geographical area influences the types of crops you can have in your garden. Generally, your geographical location influences climate and the nature of the soil you’ll have for your crops.

The hardiness zones are an effective way to determine how your geographical location influences your choice of garden crops. A garden in Zone 3, a relatively cold climate, such as Montana, will easily grow root vegetables such as kohlrabi, beets, and carrots. However, a warmer climate in Zone 10, such as Phoenix, Arizona, will easily grow tomatoes, ginger, cucumbers, and watermelons.

Growth medium

The success of your gardening endeavor relies as much on the quality of the plants’ growth medium as it does on your skill and knowledge about gardening. Growth media for garden crops can range from natural soil to coco peat and inert materials such as Rockwool. However, natural soil is the most common growth medium and is preferred for organic gardening.

growth medium

Gardening soils vary in organic and inorganic composition and influence crops’ performance. Since soils are generally abundant in organic activities in warmer climates, they have better soils for crops that require higher nutritional requirements. However, crops with less nutritional needs perform better in colder climates.

Availability to care for crops

How much time do you have to spare for your crops? If you’re generally short on time to care for crops, you can still garden, but you’ll have to choose crops that suit your schedule.

Most vegetables require attention and care, and they’ll only perform well if they get enough water, nutrition, and light when needed. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables with high water content generally require more attention. However, garden crops such as carrots, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes require less attention.

You can create a schedule for checking for your garden’s pests and possible disease infections. However, ensure that your pest-check routine aligns with when the crop pests are active.

The maturity period of crops

Some garden crops reach maturity faster than others. Generally, leafy vegetables reach edible maturity faster than fruit and root vegetables. Therefore, choosing crops that attain maturity when you need them will determine the types of crops you choose for your garden.

If you constantly need vegetable supply in your home, you should have more leafy vegetables in your garden. However, root vegetables are more appropriate if you favor more fruits and calorie-dense food options.

Nutritional needs

It will help if you understand your nutritional needs before choosing garden crops. You can’t have diabetes and have more starchy food options in your garden. While you can have different types of crops in your garden, your variety of garden crops should contain all nutritional classes.

You may want more pulses, fruits, and vegetables in your garden if you have more children at home. If you require fewer starch foods, tuber crops, such as yams, should be absent or minimal in your garden. However, leafy vegetables should take up more space in your garden if you need more vitamins and minerals.

Ensure that all household members have their nutritional needs met by the crops in your garden.

Crops interaction

Interaction occurs between crops, and they can be either positive or negative. To avoid any negative crop interaction and improve positive or neutral interaction among crops, you should know the growth habits and characteristics of each crop you choose for your garden.

Crop interactions

Through a phenomenon called allelopathy, certain plants secrete biochemicals to influence the germination, reproduction, and general growth of other plants and animals. For instance, peppers secrete capsaicin to inhibit the growth of other crops around them. Its allelochemical mostly affects lettuce and other grasses. Also, it protects it from herbivores.

Available growing space

The size of your garden usually depends on how much you have. Traditionally, gardens require an expanse of land that you can till or accommodate beds where you can sow your crops. However, modern times have necessitated using smaller spaces, such as patios and apartment gardens.

The size of your garden space should determine the types of crops you should grow. If you have an outdoor expanse for your garden, you can grow crops that will fully utilize the stretch. However, if you have limited space, you can favor creeping plants, such as cucumbers, that will take advantage of your vertical space.

Gardening experience

How familiar are you with gardening? Which crops have you successfully grown? These questions will help you understand your gardening experience and the plants you should start with. The more gardening experience you have, the more crops you can easily cater to.

Leafy vegetables are generally easy to start, but they can become challenging under a pest attack. Fruit vegetables can also be susceptible to fungal diseases, especially under moist conditions. To combat these challenges require some level of experience. However, as a beginner, you can start with fruit and vegetables under dry conditions.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right garden crops as a beginner can be challenging, but you can do it by considering the above-mentioned factors. Please pay attention to your location’s climate and research crops that suit it. Remember to choose crops that agree with your available space. Ultimately, select crops that your household needs and enjoys.

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