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How to Choose the Right Vegetables for your Garden

Every location has its own unique climate characteristics and it is important to choose vegetables that will thrive in your area. It can be very discouraging to watch your vegetables struggle when you’re first starting out. You can avoid this discouragement by simply learning what vegetables grow well in your local area. Vegetables are not that picky and if your garden site has at least 6 hours of direct sunlight then you’ll be able to grow most veggies. However, you must also consider your hardiness zone, elevation, and wind exposure conditions. If you do not have ideal conditions for a garden it does not mean you can’t grow plants successfully.

Growing Vegetables in Shady Areas

The most common problem that gardeners in suburbia face is a lack of direct sunlight. This sound not be a problem that stops you from starting a garden because there are many varieties of vegetables that thrive outside of direct sunlight. If you are growing in a shady area you might try growing: Lettuce, Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Cabbage, Peas, and other Salad greens. Most plants with small fruits or roots will not require huge amounts of direct sunlight. In fact, the vegetables listed will actually produce the highest quality vegetables in shady areas. If you are growing in a shady spot and your plants are struggling by late spring, you can try adding some organic fertilizer to give them a nutrient boost. This will often be sufficient to produce higher yields by midsummer. Also keep in mind that shady areas tend to have less than adequate drainage. It is essential to make sure that the drainage is sufficient. If necessary, you might consider adding raised beds to improve drainage in the area.

Growing Vegetables in Hot Climates

Gardeners in the Southern and Southwest United States should look for vegetables that do well in hot climates. Certain vegetables will be damaged by excessive heat in the summer, so it is important to choose varieties that can tolerate 100 degree plus temperatures. The growing season usually ends faster in warm climates, so you should plan to harvest your vegetables in late spring or early summer. Here are a few examples of heat tolerant vegetables: Beans, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplants, Okra, Bell Peppers, Jalapeño Peppers,  Squash, Zucchini, Sweet potatoes, Tomatoes.

Growing Vegetables in Cold Climates

When growing plants in cold climates you will need to look out for frost in spring which can be very damaging to a young plant. A plant that is frozen will suffer severe damage to its cellular biology, which can cause the plant to wither and die. It is essential to choose plants that are frost tolerant and attempt to protect them from frost by covering your garden with blankets in the cold months. Here are a few examples of frost tolerant vegetables: Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Radishes, Lettuce, Potatoes, and Swiss Chard.

When all else fails, simply find out what other gardeners in your area are growing. If you live in a climate with unique characteristics, it is useful ask your local nursery for tips about which vegetables will thrive in your garden.

Learn More about Gardening Basics and check out our Plant List