RICK SPENCE

JUN, 7TH, 2018 IN LIVE WELL
Feature

Vegetable gardens are not just for peas, beans and cucumbers any more. You can enjoy fresh-off-the-farm flavour – by growing a wide variety of vegetables in your garden plot.

Here are just a few high-value backyard crops that may flourish under your green thumb.

Arugula: This fast-growing green thrives in cooler weather, making it a perfect addition to Canadian gardens. A leafy member of the mustard family, it adds spice to your salads. Sown directly from seed, it tends to grow best among the shade of taller plants.

Mesclun lettuce: Mixed lettuces create brilliant, leafy salads. With proper watering and protection from pests, you can expect two or three harvests per crop. Savvy gardeners can harvest a second, late-summer crop as well.

Cilantro: A multipurpose herb, cilantro supplies cool, flavorful leaves and citrusy seeds (known as coriander). A hot-weather plant, cilantro usually grows quickly and requires active maintenance. Clip off the main stems before they develop flower buds or seed pods, directing the plants’ energy back into leaf production.

Cherry tomatoes: A popular summer snack that is easy to grow. Use a tall tomato cage to support the vines or locate in a sunny spot close to a balcony or railing. Wait until they're ripe, plucking individual fruits every day. Have fun experimenting with different varieties, shapes and sizes.

Turnips: The under-appreciated turnip is low in calories and high in nutrition. A cool-weather crop usually associated with fall, turnips can also thrive in summer under moist conditions.

Squash: Not just a Thanksgiving staple, varieties of summer squash grow from early summer until first frost. Besides the normal cooked variety, you can serve them in salads or as a side dish.

Growing vegetables at home is all about the pride you feel in nurturing new growth and bringing freshness to the table. Not to mention that you might find a little extra room in your grocery budget for that pint of ice cream. You know you deserve it!

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