| Quick Crops for Busy Veggie Gardeners |
Forget the image of long rows of cabbages, towering spires of corn, and fields of pumpkins. Today's home vegetable garden is more likely to revolve around the backyard deck, the flowering annual bed, and even the kitchen!
As Americans yearn for fresh local food yet have less time and space than ever to grow a big garden, vegetable growers are finding ways to keep the harvests coming more quickly and deliciously than would have been possible even a decade ago.
One secret is the newfound popularity of baby veggies. At first it was just lettuces and other greens, but now everything from cucumbers to squash can be harvested weeks earlier, in mini form. This cuts growing time dramatically, making it possible to grill up that delectable caponata just 45 days after transplanting Patio Baby Eggplant into containers. Want to grow your own mega-healthy spinach salad? Novico Hybrid Spinach is ready in just 25 days!
Another factor contributing to the "instant gratification" of today's home vegetable gardens is the rediscovery of naturally quick crops. The humble spring radish, a root that matures within just a few weeks of sowing, is gaining in popularity. It's ridiculously easy to grow: just pop the seeds into any sunny garden spot or container, water well, and within days green shoots are pushing up. When it's time to harvest, simply grasp the leaves and pull. Like a buried Easter egg, the colorful radish appears! It's no surprise, then, that Rivoli Hybrid Radish, a gorgeous bright red variety that holds very well, has been named a 2014 All-America Selection.
Of course, greens are the original quick crops, and many begin setting tasty leaves just a few weeks after sowing. Cut-and-come-again varieties — loose-leaf lettuces, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens, among others — set new leaves to replace those that are picked, so the harvest continues all season.
Gardens with at least a few feet of sunny soil can support a big, quick crop of summer squash. "Baby" forms are now available — Poquito Hybrid is a particularly charming little zucchini, ready in just 40 days — but even the full-sized versions of crookneck, straightneck, pattypan, scallop, and zucchini usually go from seed to table in just two months.
And if horizontal space is in short supply in the garden, go vertical with snow peas and green beans. These vining plants can be trained upward through chain-link fences, trellises, and other supports. Beans, peas, and other legumes belong in every garden, because in addition to the goodness of their crops, the plants feed the soil, improving its quality for next season.
And finally, the ultimate quick crop is sprouts, which you can grow right in the kitchen in just a few days. Packed with anti-oxidants and crunchy, nutty flavor, sprouts are terrific additions to sandwiches and salads. No soil or sunshine needed here — just a container, a bit of water, and seeds. Gardening has never been so easy or delicious!
For more information on growing quick crops, visit parkseed.com or contact us directly by calling our public relations department at 1-864-941-4521.