How do you pick the vegetables for your garden? This is maybe the most overwhelming part of planning a vegetable garden. There are so many choices and looking at all the catalogs and websites can make your head spin. In my opinion there are two basic ways to pick the vegetables for your garden: grow what you eat, or eat what you grow. But wait, if you grow what you eat don’t you eat what you grow? Well…yes but when it comes to picking what you’ll grow in your garden it’s not exactly the same.
Eat What You Grow
I think this is how many of us pick the vegetables for our gardens. You figure out the size of your garden and get out the seed catalog, or head off to the garden center to browse the seed racks. You pick up some of this and some of that, and, oooh, you’ve never tried that before. Before you know it, you have a great variety of seeds and a large portion of them are things you haven’t eaten before. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, most of us could use to add a little variety to our vegetable selection. But the key questions are “Are you going to actually eat them after harvest?” and “Do you have a plan for the things you don’t like?” If you have a family of adventurous eaters then eating what you grow may work for you.
We’ve tried eating what we grow the last several summers, with mixed success. Mr J and I diligently ate baby kale in lunch salads for a month or so. I hunted in vain for kohlrabi recipes that looked like things my kids would eat. We did discover several ways to cook zucchini that most of the family will eat. We’ve also had mixed luck with actually getting everything to grow. Our garden is large so getting everything planted in a timely manner can be a challenge and it seems like more variety just makes things more difficult. We decided to change things up this year.
Grow What You Eat
I’m sure your family has some go-to vegetables that make regular appearances on the dinner table. If you list these, they can be a good way to pick the vegetables for your garden. This is what I mean by growing what you eat. We have set menus which you can read about here. This makes listing our go-to vegetables easy. One downside to this method is that you may need larger quantities of certain seeds, if you want to grow enough of a vegetable to last all year, some online seed suppliers carry seeds by weight and some will even tell you how many seeds are in a pound.
I made my list from our menus and got a rough idea of how much I need for a year of each of them. This year we are growing several varieties of beans, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, winter and summer squash, cucumbers, potatoes and onions. Most of these things grow well in our yard and they keep well so we can grow enough for the year in our large garden.