The 12 Best Plants to Grow in a Community Garden
Community gardens are unique in style and function. One thing they all have in common is that gardeners have plots in a remote location—meaning not in their own backyard—and feel gardening is essential. It may be for economic reasons, the superiority of the vegetables they grow, social interaction, or just because they need to connect with the earth. For most of us, it is all of those things. The beauty of the community garden is that it gives people a place to garden even if they have no yard.
The community garden gives you space to garden and opens the door to friendships with fellow gardeners. Gardeners like to share. You have the opportunity to learn about new varieties of plants, discover new techniques, share information on organic methods of disease and pest control, and even share recipes. You can start some truly amazing friendships with fellow gardeners and find a whole new community in your community garden.
On the downside, it takes extra effort and planning to garden at a community garden. You have to travel to the garden. Some gardens require you to bring your own tools and watering cans each time. When you start to harvest, you have to take it all home. It may not be feasible to walk to and from your community garden. And, of course, life happens. You may not be able to visit the garden every day or even every other day like you planned when you signed up.
Because of this, it’s important to think about what you are planting in your plot. Plants like beans don’t take a lot of attention until it is time to harvest. Then you will have to pick beans every other day at least. If you can’t be there, you will have to pick tough, overgrown beans that you don’t even want in your soup pot. Suddenly the garden, which was going to be such fun, has become a burden. That is the last thing anyone wants to happen. So how can this be avoided? Choose plants for your garden plot that can sit for a while in case your kids become sick, you have to work overtime or you run into any of the millions of things that can keep you from your garden. Here are 12 of the best!
2. Winter Squash
This is a “plant it and ignore it” vegetable until it is time to harvest. Plant an acorn variety or try the delicata squash. The bush varieties will fit in a garden plot and only need water and a little fertilizer during the summer.
Carrots require little care. Plant the popular “baby” carrots, like Little Finger or Mini Adelaide. If your soil is good for longer carrots, have fun with the multi-color variety, Rainbow Blend.
Beets grown in the garden are delicious and may become your new favorite. You can’t leave the beets indefinitely because they will get woody eventually, but you can certainly leave them in the ground for days with no problem.
Kale has gained newfound popularity in people’s health-conscious diets. The added bonus is it is one of the easiest plants to grow. There are a number of different varieties to choose from. Some grow to the size of a small shrub while others stay very small and can even work well in container gardening.
Eggplant comes in many varieties all producing eggplants in bright purples to dark purple-blacks or even white and yellow-oranges. The eggplants also vary in shape and size. If you have never eaten eggplant before, try a dwarf version, like fairytale eggplants, that is ready to pick when only 3-4 inches long.
Onions are another easy crop to grow. Once they are planted, they need a minimum of care that is mostly limited to weeding and watering. Onions stay in the ground until the stems start to dry. They won’t grow any larger, but there is no hurry to get them out of the ground.
Cabbage is a vegetable that is very versatile. Eat it raw in a slaw, cooked in a casserole or stuffed cabbage rolls, or fermented into sauerkraut.
Whether you like your peppers sweet or hot, they are easy to grow and won’t mind being left on the plant for extra time. There are lots of choices in each category if you are going to start from seed.
10. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is great in the garden just because of its beauty. In addition, this award-winning plant is very flavorful, and both the leaves and the stems can be eaten.
Basil is an herb, not a vegetable, but if you are planting tomatoes you have to plant basil seeds. Not only do they complement each other when cooking, but basil is also a great companion plant for tomatoes in the garden.
12. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts taste far superior when picked from the garden rather than the grocery store. Brussels Sprouts are cold tolerant and become sweeter if exposed to frost. Many gardeners never pick their Brussels sprouts until they have been exposed to frost. Hestia Hybrid Brussel Sprouts is an All-American Award Winner that will yield over 100 sprouts from each plant!
Guest blogger: Grace Quarer
Grace Quarer oversees Park Seed content development from Park’s headquarters in Greenwood, South Carolina. Before joining Park Seed, Grace managed garden content for a large national chain of home improvement stores. Grace grew up in a gardening family, but it was marrying into a farming family that introduced her to seed starting for home gardeners and professionals. Her hobby is teaching friends and her community how to sprout, grow and cook as a proud part of the “farm to table” movement.
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