Top 10 Annual Vegetables

Not a true top ten list due to numerous species in each category…

Short version of the list:

tomatoes, bush beans, pole beans, potatoes, corn, spinach, swiss chard, kale, broccoli, Mesclun mix

Obviously, potatoes, corn, and beans are the calorie rich foods. The rest are nutrient rich foods.

Corn: 606  calories per cup

Beans: 670 calories per cup

Potatoes: 166 calories per cup


Now for the long version of the list…….


1. Tomatoes


“How does this all relate to the difference in flavor between homegrown and artificially ripened tomatoes? The different conditions in which each group is grown has significant effects on the levels of sugar, acid, and volatile compounds in the tomatoes produced.

Flavor is not necessarily the first consideration when breeding or choosing a commercial variety to produce. Generally speaking, traits like disease and pest resistance usually rank higher in importance. Also, a commercial producer must consider how well a variety can survive harvesting and shipping to market. This is one reason why commercial tomatoes are typically picked very under ripe, at a stage called “mature green” meaning in another 24 hours or so it will show some pink coloring, and be at the “breaker” stage.

Tomatoes that are still green will store a lot longer, and travel better than ripe tomatoes. Before they travel to market, they are artificially ripened using ethylene gas. Ethylene is naturally produced by ripening fruits of all kinds. Exposing the mature green tomatoes to ethylene will trigger the ripening process, so red tomatoes are delivered to market. Those tomatoes that were picked at the breaker stage do not need the ethylene to ripen, since they have already begun the process. Interestingly enough, these breaker tomatoes are the ones sold in stores as “vine- ripened”.

Tomatoes destined for processing into canned products are allowed to ripen fully on the vine, yet must be tough enough to not break during harvest and transport to the canning facility. They are generally drier and have thicker skin and flesh than varieties intended for fresh consumption. They are definitely not the tender juicy homegrown tomatoes we savor each summer.

Exposure to sunlight is crucial for sugar production in tomatoes. Picking mature green or breaker stage tomatoes reduces their time in the sun, and reduces the levels of sugar in the tomatoes. Some studies have related the amount of potassium to acid levels in tomatoes. Fertilizing with greater amounts of potassium resulted in higher acid content in most varieties.

Without question, research has shown that artificially ripened tomatoes have significantly lower levels of volatile compounds than homegrown fully ripe tomatoes. The million dollar question that remains unanswered is how to artificially induce green tomatoes to produce the volatile compounds.”



2. Bush beans: Snow peas / garden peas/ snap peas



“Bush beans grow as small, 2-foot tall plants, unlike the climbing pole varieties. The shorter plants don’t produce as much as pole types but they also don’t require a support and won’t shade other plants in a small garden. Bush bean varieties include “Roma II,” “Contender,” “Blue Lagoon,” as well as bush varieties of pole bean types like “Kentucky Wonder” and “Blue Lake.”


Site Needs

Bush beans require soil temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate and grow. They grow best in a well-drained garden bed with a pH level of between 6.0 and 7.0 that receives at least six hours of full sun a day. Adding compost to the site before planting improves moisture retention and soil nutrition, which results in healthier and more productive plants. Bush bean varieties require a 6-inch-square space per plant. The close spacing allows you to grow several plants in a small bed.


Most bush bean varieties require about 40 days to produce harvestable pods. Sow seeds directly in the garden bed. Plant each seed 1 inch deep and space them six inches apart in all directions. The seeds won’t germinate in dry soil, so water the area regularly to keep it moist. Bush beans don’t compete well with weeds, so keep the bed well weeded from the time of planting until the end of the growing season.

Moisture and Nutrients

The shallow roots of a bush bean plant don’t dig deeply in search of moisture, so continue regular watering through the growing season. Provide approximately 1 inch of water each time, and water one or two times weekly, depending on how quickly the soil dries out. The primary nutrient for plants is nitrogen, which bush beans can create in the soil on their own if you purchase treated seed or coat the seed with a nitrogen inoculant before planting. Alternatively, apply a 1 inch layer of compost over the soil once the plants begin flowering to improve nutrition for the remainder of the growing season.”



3. Potatoes

purple majesty potato.jpg



Germination 65-70F
For Growth 50-65 F
Soil and Water
Fertilizer Light feeder, apply compost when planting
Side-dressing Apply 2-3 weeks after first hilling
pH 5.0-6.0
Water Heavy when potatoes are forming
Planting depth 3-4″
Root depth 18-24″
Height 23-30″
Width 24″
Space between plants
In beds 9-12″
In rows 10-12″
Space between rows 20-26″
Average plants per person 10-30
For small “new” potatoes, harvest during blossoming; for varieties that don’t blossom, harvest about 10 weeks after planting. Harvest regular potatoes when the vines have died back halfway, about 17 weeks after planting. Gently pull or dig out tubers with a garden fork. If not large enough, pack the soil back and try again at 2-3 week intervals. If you have many plants, remove the entire plant when harvesting to make room for another crop. For storage potatoes, dig near the first frost when plant tops have died back. To minimize tuber injury, always dig when the soil is dry.
First Seed Starting Date 2-4 weeks before last frost date
Last Seed Starting Date 90-120 Days before first frost date
Companions All brassicas, corn, marigold, pigweed
Incompatibles cucumber, pea, pumpkin, raspberry, spinach, squash, sunflower, tomato

Where to Grow Potatoes

Image of potato plants growing in the gardenPotatoes grow best in regions where there is a temperate climate with cool growing weather, ample rainfall, and deep fertile soil. Potatoes are a warm-season crop in the North, tender to frost and light freezes, and a cool-season crop in the South and West.

Recommended Varieties of Potatoes

“Seed” potatoes that have been certified disease free are essential. Potatoes sold for eating are usually treated to prevent sprouting, and will not grow well if planted.

Early – Irish Cobbler; Chippewa; Norland (scab resistant); Pontaic (red-skinned)
Main – Green Mountain; Katahdin; Kennebec (blight resistant)
Baking – Russet, Burbank

Soil for Growing Potatoes

A deeply fertile sandy loam with a high acid content, pH 5-5.5 is best, since overly limed soils activate the scab fungus. The soil should be well drained and, at the same time, able to retain moisture. Other soils can be improved by incorporating organic matter which tends to lighten heavy soil and enrich sandy soil. Use high phosphorous fertilizers, such as 5-10-5, or 4-8-4, or ground-rock phosphate to prepare the soil.

If your soil is compacted, you’ll want to loosen it up with a shovel, broad fork, or rototiller. If turning in compost, ensure the compost is mixed in to a depth of about 6 to 8 inches. If digging with a shovel, don’t completely turn the soil over, simply dig one spot with the shovel buried 8-12 inches and toss it back in. the idea is not to destroy too many of the beneficial soil mircobes. If your soil is highly compacted, it will benefit from a good turning to a depth of approximately 12 inches, incorporating compost. The long term goal for potato soil is to have a loose living soil full of beneficial microbes.

Planting Potatoes

image of seed potatoes

When –

As soon as the frost is out of the ground and the soil can be worked thoroughly. The rule of thumb to follow for the earliest planting time is to plant 2 weeks before your last spring frost. You can plant any time after that, as long as there are 3 months of frost free growing season left.

How –

Start potatoes with seed potatoes, each containing one to three “eyes” or small indentations that sprout foliage. To prepare seed potatoes for planting: Spread the tubers out in boxes or crates one layer deep. Bring the boxes into a warm living space and to a location with medium intensity light. The warmth tends to stimulate the development of strong sprouts from the buds, which in the presence of light remain short and stubby and are not easily broken off. This process is called greening and presprouting and is usually done for a week or two just prior to planting outside to encourage growth and hasten the development of good tubers.

Tubers the size of a medium egg may be planted whole, cut larger tubers with a clean sharp knife so that each piece will contain 1 or more eyes. Pieces should be cut with plenty of flesh around the eyes, as the plant will utilize this stored food during the first few weeks of growth. Seed potatoes may be planted immediately after cutting if soil moisture is properly controlled; if there is a chance the soil will be too wet, allow the cut pieces to dry out a couple of days prior to planting, shriveling is to be avoided at all costs.

Place in shallow trenches 6″ wide, spaced 10-12″ apart, and cover with 3-4″ of soil. Space rows out approximately 20-26″ apart. The spacing can be adjusted to suit your conditions, wider spacing can help alleviate stress due to drought or poor soil. Tighter spacing tends to provide a uniform canopy of foliage to cool the soil in summer. One to two weeks after the shoots emerge, mound the soil around the base, leaving a few inches exposed. This “hilling” prevents greening. Side dress and “hill” again 2-3 weeks later. Hilling is crucial to establishing your crop, because all tubers will form at the same depth as the seed piece or higher. By gradually building an ever larger hill of soil around the plant, you are building the site for your potatoes to develop. Give them plenty of room between rows and build your hills wide and ample to maximize your potato harvest.

How Potatoes Grow

The plants, which are about 3′ high, send up long, pinnate leaves similar to tomato foliage. The tubers will develop in late summer, at the ends of underground stems. They are fairly close to the top 4-5 inches of soil.

Cultivating Potatoes

Keep weeds out of the potato patch with a very light cultivation, or use straw or leaf compost mulch. Gradually hoe soil toward the base of the potato plants, to prevent the roots from becoming sunburned. A second application of fertilizer is usually made 1 month after planting by side dressing in the row. Potatoes are almost 3/4 water, soil moisture is very important. Potatoes need about 1-2″ of water every week. Keep the soil evenly moist, and try not to let the soil completely dry out as this will cause sudden re-growth when watered, giving the tubers ears and noses, splits, or hollow heart. Let the water soak down to about 10-12″ each time. Cover plants if a hard frost is expected.

Storage Requirements
Spring or summer harvested potatoes aren’t usually stored, but keep for 4-5 months if cured first at 60-70F for at least 4 days and stored at 40F. Dry fall-harvested potatoes for 1-2 days on the ground, then cure at 50-60F and a relatively high humidity for 10-14 days. Don’t cure potatoes in the sun; they turn green. Once cured, store in total darkness in a single layer. Never layer or pile potatoes more than 6-8″ deep.
Temperature Humidity Storage Life
55-60F 90-95% 5-10 months
Method Taste Shelf Life
Canned fair 12+ months
Frozen good 8 months
Dried good 12+ months

Harvesting Potatoes

2 1/2 – 4 months. The first young potatoes can be lifted out carefully, a few at a time, by merely pulling soil away and replacing it for the remainder to develop. When the plants begin to dry and die down, the tubers will be ready. They can be left in the ground for a time, but should be dug before a heavy frost. Dig on a bright, sunny day so the soil dries off the potatoes easily.

Laboratory experiments have shown that several aromatic herbs and their essential oils can suppress sprouting of potatoes in storage and have antimicrobial activity against potato pathogens. English lavender, pennyroyal, spearmint, rosemary, and sage suppressed growth of potato sprouts, but oregano did not. English lavender was the most effective sprout inhibitor


For long term storage, keep potatoes in a cool (40 degrees F), dark place. Under the proper conditions, potatoes can last as long as 6 months. Light as well as warmth will promote sprouting and turn the potatoes green. Burlap sacks, netted sacks, slotted crates, or baskets are recommended for storing potatoes over winter. If your potatoes are stored at temperatures ranging from 33-40 degrees F, they will likely convert their starch into sugars, and will consequently taste slightly sweeter than normal. These potatoes will turn brown sooner when fried. You can take them out of storage and keep them in the warmth, but out of the light for a day or two and they will get some of their starch back. Storing potatoes at 50 degrees F will keep their starches intact. This is the ideal temperature if you want to fry the potatoes, make potato chips, or prefer the starchy taste. Ideally humidity should be relatively high (80-90%). Low humidity is the main cause of shriveling during storage. Refrigerator storage works well, especially if you have a crisper that maintains humidity levels. For the most part a refrigerator works hard at keeping the humidity levels down.


4. Corn


Germination 60-95F
For Growth 60-75 F
Soil and Water
Fertilizer Heavy feeder; apply manure in the fall, or compost a few weeks before planting.
Side-dressing Apply every 2 weeks and additionally when stalks are 8-10″ and knee high
pH 5.5-7.0
Water average
Planting depth 1/2- 2″
Root depth 18″-6′
Height 7-8′
Width 18-48″
Space between plants
In beds 8-12″
In rows 18″
Space between rows 30-42″
Average plants per person 12-40
Sweet corn: About 18 days after silks appear, when they’re dark and dry, make a small slit in the husk (don’t pull the silks down), and pierce the kernel with a fingernail. If the liquid is (1) clear, wait a few days to pick, (2) milky, pick and eat, or (3) pasty, the ear is past its prime and best for canning.
Popcorn: Pick when the husks are brown and partly dried. Finish drying corn on the husks. A solar drier is the most rapid method, drying the corn in about 5 days. The kernels are ready for storage if they fall off easily when rubbed by a thumb or twisted. Before using, store in bags or jars to even out moisture content. The ultimate test, of course, is to pop them. After harvest: Cut stalks and till under or compost immediately.
First Seed starting Date 4-11 days before last frost date
Last Seed Starting Date 97-127 Days before first frost date
Companions cucumber, melon, pumpkin, squash
Incompatibles tomato (attacked by similar insects)

Image of corn tassel with blue sky backgroundCorn is one of the most popular crops for the vegetable garden. Generally speaking, corn takes a large amount of room, water, sunlight, and nutrients compared to other home garden crops, but the rewards can be sweet. There is only one way to truly enjoy the flavor of fresh corn: Grow it yourself – for corn loses much of its sweetness within minutes after picking. True corn lovers start water boiling on the stove before they pick the corn, so that they can run the tender ears straight from the garden into the pot.

Corn is a warm-season crop, tender to frost and light freezes. Many types are grown, including field corn, ornamental corn, popcorn, sweet corn, and even broomcorn. Corn may be white, yellow, bicolor and many shades of red, blue, or even black. Typical sweet corn, probably the most popular for home gardens is usually either white or yellow, we will focus on these. The other types of corn, namely dent or field corn are not commonly grown in the backyard, and are more popular with industrial farmers. The field corn is harvesed in the dent stage after it has had a chance to dry out, and is either fed to livestock or used in the food industry. Sweet corn is harvested fresh, and typically grown near where it is consumed.
The earliest corn matures in about two months, the latest in about 3 months. Many gardeners plant early, mid, and late season varieties at the same time to extend the harvesting season. Another option to extend harvesting would be to make succession plantings of an early, fast maturing variety every 10 days or so until midsummer. A second planting should not be made until the first planting has 3-5 leaves. It should be noted that the later sweet corn matures, the more difficult insect control will be.

Where to Grow Corn

Corn requires three months of warm, sunny weather to mature, and can grow wherever ample water is available. In cold, northern climates with shorter growing seasons (65 days) such as Alaska and northern Canada dwarf varieties can be grown.

Recommended Varieties of Corn

There are three major types of sweet or supersweet corn marked to home gardeners. The traditional type is referred to as “sugary” and is typically denoted by the letters “su.” The second type of supersweet corn has a very high sugar content and extremely shrunken seeds due to a small, weak embryo. This type is often marketed as “extra sweet” or “ultrasweet” and is usually referred to by the letters “sh2” for shrunken. The third type is also a supersweet corn. It tends to have a higher sugar content and to maintain or extend this sugar content longer on the plant and after harvest. It us usually referred to as “se” for “sugar extended.” Se corn tends to be very sweet, tender, and crisp and usually retains these qualities after harvest. However, its requirements for warm soil temperatures at germination and isolation from some other corn types at pollination make it more difficult to grow. There are also the ornamental varieties, with colored kernels. These varieties should be grown away from sweet corn, to avoid any cross pollination. The trick to enjoying an extended corn harvest is planting a span of varieties (early, midseason, and late) to spread the harvest over a long season.

There are several hundred good varieties of sweet and super sweet corn available. Our favorite variety is bi-colored corn called Providence. Incredible is another excellent bi-colored corn. Recommended early varieties include (our favorites are in bold) :

Early – Spring Gold, Seneca Explorer, Early Sunglow, Early Xtra-Sweet
Midseason – Sundance, Wonderful, Northern Bell, Gold Cup, Golden Cross Bantam, Barbeque(yellow), Snowcrest(white)
Late – Seneca Chief, Silver Queen and Country Gentleman Hybrid (white), Sweet Sue, Butter and Sugar (aka Honey and Creme), Sugar and Gold (all bicolor)
Dwarf – White Midget, Golden Midget, Midget Hybrid
Popcorn – White Cloud, Japanese Hulless

Soil for Corn

Average garden soil will support a good corn crop, but the best results are obtained when the ground is deeply prepared with well-rotted manure and compost to provide a light, well-draining texture. Corn is a heavy feeder, and needs generous quantities of nutrients, especially phosphorus and potash. Work in one pound of 5-10-10 or 4-8-12 per 25 feet of row, or work bone meal and wood ash into the top 8-10 inches of soil before planting. Remove any weeds, rocks, and trash as you work



5. Spinach


Germination 45-75F
For Growth 60-65 F
Soil and Water
Fertilizer Heavy feeder, before planting apply compost
Side-dressing Apply 2-3 weeks after first hilling
pH 6.0-7.5
Water Light
Planting depth 1/2″
Root depth 1′, tap root up to 5′
Height 4-6″
Width 6-8″
Space between plants
In beds 6-12″
In rows 6-12″
Space between rows 12-14″
Average plants per person 10-20
Cut individual leaves when they’re large enough to eat. Continual harvest prevents bolting. When the weather warms, cut the plant to ground level. It’s leaves will grow back. For the best nutrition, harvest leaves in the morning.
First Seed Starting Date 56-64 days before last frost date
Last Seed Starting Date 59-69 Days before first frost date
Companions All beans, all brassicas, celery, onion, peas
Incompatibles potato

Clusters of heavy, deep green leaves, deeply crumpled or savored, from a central crown. Spinach bolts when there’s 14-16 hours of light, regardless of the temperature, although warmer temperatures will cause it to bolt faster. The exceptions are New Zealand and Basella Malabar “spinach,” which thrive in warm weather. They aren’t true spinach, but when cooked they taste like the real thing. Malabar is also a pretty ornamental vine that is easily grown on arbors where it provides summer shade and a constant supply of summer greens.

Cultivating Spinach

Be sure the rows are kept moist if spring or fall is dry, and side dress with a high-nitrogen fertilizer such as blood meal or fish emulsion when seedlings are 3 inches tall.

Storage Requirements
For freezing and drying, cut the leaves into thick strips. Blanch for 2 minutes before freezing. Its best to use only the smallest and most tender leaves for freezing
Temperature Humidity Storage Life
32 95-100% 10-14 days
Method Taste Shelf Life
Canned good 12+ months
Frozen good 8 months

Harvesting Spinach

45 days. Cut spinach plant off at the base when the leaves are fully developed. Once cut, they will not come back like chard and lettuce. New Zealand spinach sprawls vigorously; when the stems are about 8 inches long, the tip ends should be cut back several inches to keep it under control. Cook or use as leaf lettuce mixed in salads.

Spinach Pests

Aphids may be troublesome. In mild climates, nasturtiums nearby will help draw the insects away. Or use pyrethrum or rotenone dust.

Spinach Diseases

Blights: Grow the modern resistant varieties.



6. Swiss chard




” If you have not been experimenting with Swiss chard in the kitchen, now is the time to start. Like it’s wildly popular green cousin kale, Swiss chard packs a powerful nutritional punch, providing over 700% of your daily needs for vitamin K and over 200% of daily vitamin A needs in just one cup.

Swiss chard is also commonly known as silverbeet, spinach beet, perpetual spinach, crab beet and mangold. Along with other leafy greens and descendants of the beet family, Swiss chard contains high levels nitrates, which been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the amount of oxygen needed during exercise and enhance athletic performance.”



7. Kale


Kale Growing and Harvest Information

Germination 45-95 F
For Growth 60-65 F
Soil and Water
Fertilizer Heavy feeder, use compost
Side-dressing Apply when plants are 1/3 grown
pH 6.0-7.0
Water heavy
Planting depth 1/2″
Root depth 6-12″
Height 12-18″
Width 8-12″
Space between plants
In beds 15-18″
In rows 18-24″
Space between rows 24-46″
Average plants per person 4
Harvest younger leaves from the middle and work your way up the stalk as it grows. Keep some of the leaves on the bottom to feed the growth on the top. You can also harvest the plant all at once by cutting its stem near the bottom.
First Seed starting Date 52-108 days before last frost date
Last Seed Starting Date 94-108 Days before first frost date
Companions Artichoke, beet, bush bean, celery, cucumber, lettuce, onion, peas, potato, spinach
Incompatibles Pole beans, strawberry, tomato

Image of Kale plant growing in the vegetable garden, entire plantAn easy vegetable to grow, it is generally more disease and pest resistant than other brassicas, although it can experience similar problems. Kale also occupies less space than other brassicas. Use it as a spinach substitute in a wide variety of dishes. Kale maintains body and crunch which makes it a good substitute in dishes where spinach might not be suitable; its especially delicious in stir-fry dishes. It is recommended to cook over high heat to bring out the best flavor and prevent bitterness. Many specialty growers are planting kale in wide beds only 1/2 to 12 inches apart and harvesting kale small as salad greens. In England, close plantings of kale have been shown to prevent aphid infestations through visual masking.

Where to Grow Kale

Almost anywhere in the United States where there’s a cool fall growing season. It’s a cool-season crop, hardy to frosts and light freezes. Kale’s flavor is reported to improve and sweeten with frost.

Recommended Kale Varieties

There are 2 types: Scotch, an early kale with deeply curled, blue green leaves, (Dwarf Blue Curled), and Siberian, a later type with smoother, gray green leaves (Dwarf Siberian). There also are ornamental kales, grown particularly for garden display in late summer and early fall when the annuals begin to wane. The leaves are deeply curled and beautifully tinted with pastel colors ranging from emerald green to soft lilac to reds to whites.

Soil for Growing Kale

The ideal kale soil is a fertile, well-drained loam. Clay types can be improved with generous amounts of compost and well-rotted manure worked in to spade depth.

Planting Kale

Germination in 7-10 days.

When –

Start in midsummer for a late-fall winter crop.

How –

In rows 18 inches to 2 feet apart. When the seedlings are 3 or more inches high, thin plants to 10 inches apart and use the thinnings for salads or as a cooked vegetable.

How Kale Grows

Like collards, kale develops attractive leaves from a central stem, which grows a foot or so tall.

Cultivating Kale

Cultivate shallowly or mulch heavily to keep down weeds.

Storage Requirements
For fresh storage, don’t wash leaves. For drying, cut the leaves into strips and steam for 2-5 minutes. Spread on trays no more than 1/2″ thick and dry. If using an oven set the temperature to below 145 F; check and turn every hour.
Temperature Humidity Storage Life
32 F 95-100% 2-3 weeks
32-40 F 80-90% 10 months (only fair taste)
Method Taste Shelf Life
Canned good 12+ months
Frozen good 12 months
Dried fair 12+ months

How to Harvest Kale

Kale can be harvested within approximately 1 month of becomming established. Leaf color is the best sign of crop readiness. Rich green leaves of firm texture are ready for cutting. If too dark and heavy, the leaves are tough and not as flavorful. Kale leaves for cooking should generally be about the size of your hand. The small, tender leaves can be eaten uncooked, and are often added to salads. Cut the leaves frequently to encourage new growth, but avoid picking the terminal bud(at the top of the plant). When cold weather begins, mulch the plants with straw, salt hay, or the like, they will continue producing well into winter, and they may even taste more flavorful.

Kale Pests

  • Same as cabbage
  • Root Maggot -Place 3 inch tar paper squares around each seedling when transplanting to cover the soil areas; or keep the ground dusted with wood ash.
  • Cabbage butterflies/worms -controlling cabbage worms is surprisingly easy.  Cover susceptible crops with a floating row cover when planting and leave it in place until harvest.
  • Cutworms – Use stiff paper collars around transplants to extend at least 1 inch below the soil line.
  • Flea beetles – Dust with wood ash or flour dust.



8. Broccoli


Broccoli Growing and Harvest Information

Germination 50-85 F
For growth 60-65 F
Soil and Water
Fertilizer -Heavy feeder. Before planting, add compost to the soil. If clubroot is a problem, raise the pH by adding lime.
Side-dressing – When buds form, side-dress with compost
pH 6.0-7.5
Water average
Planting depth 1/4″
Root depth 18-36″
Height 18-48″
Width 15-24″
Space between plants
In beds 15″
In rows 18-24″
Space between rows 24-36″
Average plants per person 5-10
Harvest when the heads are dark green. If heads have turned yellow, you’ve waited too long. For most varieties, small compact heads offer the best flavor. Harvest the central head first. Some varieties will develop small side shoots; these should last 1-2 months or until frost. Cut the stalk so that several inches remain on the plant.
First Seed starting Date: 59-66 days before last frost date
Last Seed Starting Date: 93-119 Days before first frost date
Companions: Artichoke, beet, bush beans, chard, cucumber, lettuce, peas, potato, spinach
Incompatibles: Pole Lima and snap beans, strawberry, tomato

Broccoli is an annual cool-season crop hardy to frosts and light freezing, often overlooked and overcooked. Broccoli is sensitive to the heat, if the weather is too hot, it will flower quickly and won’t produce an edible head, it tends to grow best in the fall due to the more predictable cool weather. To prevent spreading clubroot and other soil-borne diseases, don’t compost brassica roots. Some gardeners won’t compost any part of the plant. Also, rotate the placement of brassica plants in your garden so they aren’t in the same 10-foot radius for at least 3 consecutive years. Some experts recommend a rotation of 7 years. Headed broccoli is the most common form in the United States, with big central heads closely packed with buds.

Where to Grow Broccoli

A cool-season crop, broccoli does best where it has cool weather to mature (spring or fall).Broccoli crowns prepared for cooking, after harvest

Broccoli Varieties

  • Italian green sprouting (spring)
  • Waltham 29 (fall)
  • Green Comet
  • Raaba, a branching non-heading variety
  • Romanesco Broccoli will produce a chartreuse head with a distinctive spiral pattern; some dub this type ‘fractal broccoli’ – actually more similar to cauliflower, but tastes excellent prepared as broccoli.

Soil for Broccoli

Average garden soil, well drained.

Planting Broccoli

Germination in 7 days.

When –

Start seed indoors 6 weeks before the last killing frost, for early spring crop. (In midsummer, start another crop of seedlings for August planting and late fall crop.) Set out seedlings in late April, early May. Broccoli is hardier than cauliflower, and can withstand several frosts and still keep producing.

How –

In rows 2 1/2 feet apart, with 18 inches to 2 feet between the plants. Plant spacing is variable, more space between plants leads to larger heads with less side shoots, while smaller spacing leads to smaller heads and more side shoots.

How Broccoli Grows

The plant grows relatively erect, to 4 feet tall, with long, narrow, dark green leaves. As the harvest nears, a thickened cluster appears at the top of the stalk, which is actually a flower head. When it is cut off for harvest, side shoots will continue to develop for several weeks.

Storage Requirements
Fall crops are better than summer crops for freezing
Temperature Humidity Storage Life
32F 95-100% 10-14 days
32-40 80% 1 month
Method Taste Shelf Life
Canned fair 12+ months
Frozen good 12 months
Dried fair 12+ months

Cultivating Broccoli

Since the plants are shallow rooted, cultivation to keep down weeds should be careful and shallow, or mulch rows heavily to keep down weeds and conserve soil moisture. Once growth begins, the plants need continuously moist soil. Watering will be important whenever rainfall is scant. Just as the first crop is developing, apply a ring of fertilizer 5-10-5 or 4-8-4 around each plant, 6 inches from the stem, and scratch in about 1 tablespoon per plant. Broccoli can also be watered with water-soluble fish emulsion fertilizer.

Harvesting Broccoli

60-80 days from plants. The first crop will be the central flower head, which resembles a green cauliflower. Cut it off with a sharp knife at an angle to a 4-6 inch stem, be sure to leave some leaves on the stalk, as many types will then produce side shoots from the leaf axis. Try to cut the head off at an angle, to help ensure water can not gather on the newly cut stem which leads to rot and disease. Be sure the head is cut before it cracks apart and separates; otherwise the plant will quickly flower and go to seed. When the terminal flower head is cut off, smaller side shoots will develop a continual harvest. Home grown broccoli will most likely not grow heads as large as supermarket varieties.

Broccoli Pests

  • Same for cabbage
  • Root Maggot – Place 3 inch tar paper squares around each seedling when transplanting to cover the soil areas; or keep the ground dusted with wood ash.
  • Cabbage butterflies/worms – controlling cabbage worms is surprisingly easy. Cover susceptible crops with a floating row cover when planting and leave it in place until harvest.
  • Cutworms – Use stiff paper collars around transplants to extend at least 1 inch below the soil line.
  • Flea beetles – Dust with wood ash or flour dust.



9. (can come in bush var. too)  Pole beans: Kidney/ Black


Bean Growing and Harvest Information

Germination 60-85 F
For growth 60-70 F
Soil and Water
Fertilizer: Because beans fix N when inoculated properly, they should require low N; after they flower apply light N, avoid K
pH 6.2-7.5
Water – Low before flowering, average afterwards
Planting depth 1-2″
Root depth 36-48″
Pole 8-15′
Bush 10-24″
Width 4-8″
Space between plants
In beds
Pole 6″
Bush 2-4″
In rows
Pole 12″
Bush 4-6″
Space between rows 18-36″
Average plants per person 10-20
Support structure – Use 6′ posts, A frame, tepee, or trellis to support pole beans. Alternatively, plant non-rampant pole beans between corn that isn’t too densely planted when the corn is 6-8″ tall.
Pick early in morning, after leaves are dry. Harvest before seeds bulge, when beans snap off the plant and snap in half cleanly. Continual harvest is essential for prolonged production.
First Seed starting Date: 14-28 days before last frost date
Last Seed Starting Date: 80-133 Days before first frost date
Companions – Carrot, chard, corn, cucumber, eggplant, peas, radish, strawberry
Incompatibles – Basil, fennel, garlic, gladiolus, onion family

Image of beans after harvestBeans are a warm season crop, tender to light frosts and freezes. Bush beans are usually determinate, with one clean harvest, so plant every 10 days for a continuous harvest. Pole beans are usually indeterminate with a continuous harvest for 6-8 weeks, so only one planting is necessary if kept picked. Bare roots don’t tolerate disturbances, so handle seedlings minimally. Plan on planting an average of 10-20 plants per person.

Where to Grow Beans:

Beans can be grown in average soil, almost anywhere in the United States. They grow best if the soil is well drained and the summer is consistently warm. Seeds will rot in the ground in cold, damp weather. Since Beans are subject to downy mildew, they should not be grown where there are cold summer fogs.

Bean Varieties

  • Bush –
    • Tendercrop; Top Crop; Burpee’s Tenderpod; Provider
  • Bush Wax
    • Eastern Butter Wax; Burpee’s Brittle Wax; Pencil Pod Wax
  • Pole
    • Kentucky Wonder; Blue Lake; Scarlet Runner
  • Lima
    • Fordhook 242; Henderson
  • Pole Lima
    • King of the Garden
  • Other Beans
    • Bush or pole Romano, Italian broad bean; French Horticultural, broad or fava bean.

Soil for Beans

Warm soil is essential, especially for Lima beans. pH range should be between 6 and 7, just slightly acidic. Bush beans will thrive in fertile loam soil without addition of fertilizer. Too much fertilizer will promote extensive foliage growth and little crop. Lima beans and pole beans are heavy feeders. Legume inoculates are available from seed suppliers for seed treatment, and is recommended especially if beans or peas have not been grown in the soil before.

Planting Beans

When –

After the soil is sufficiently warm – temperatures above 75 degrees. Beans are easily killed by frost. Plan on an average of 10-20 plants per person.
Some gardeners recommend presoaking seeds prior to planting, but research indicates soaked seeds absorb water too quickly, causing the outer coats to spill out essential nutrients, which encourages seed rot. Yields can increase 50-100% by inoculating with Rhizobium bacteria. To inoculate, simply roll seeds in the powder prior to planting.

How to Grow Beans

Bush Beans: Germination in 7 days. Plant seeds 2 inches apart, 1 1/2 inches deep in rows 2 feet apart. Thin to about 6-8 plants per foot of row. Bean plants produce the bulk of their crop for a 2 week period. Rather than plant the entire row, sections should be planted at 2 week intervals until mid-July or 8 weeks before the first killing frost. This will assure a steady crop all summer. Harvest: Average 50 days.

Wax, Lima Beans: Germination in 10 days. Plant seeds 3-4 inches apart, with eyes down, 1 inch deep in rows 2 feet apart. Two plantings a month apart produce a prolonged harvest. Harvest: Average 65-75 days.

Pole Beans: Germination in 8 to 14 days. Set 3 rough barked, 6 foot poles in the ground, tepee fashion, and tie together at the top. Leave 3 to 4 feet between the pole groups. Make a hill at the base of each pole, enriched with compost or well-rotted manure, and plant 6-8 seeds in each. After the second pair of true leaves appear, thin to 3 plants per pole. With regular harvesting, the pole beans should bear all summer.
Harvest: 65 days.

Cultivation for Beans

Keep rows weed free with shallow cultivation or heavy mulching; beans are shallow rooted, and should not be cultivated deeply. Never work around beans after a rainfall or in the early morning when the leaves are still wet from dew. The plants are susceptible to rust, which spreads when the foliage is wet. Water weekly and deeply during dry spells, as beans need constant soil moisture to develop properly. Feed pole varieties by working a thin band of 5-10-5 or 4-12-12 around each hill, once at plating time and again as beans start to form. In addition, pinch off the growing tips of pole beans when plants reach the top of their support system.

Storage Requirements
Blanch before freezing
Temperature Humidity Storage Life
32-35F 95-100% 2-3 weeks
Method Taste Shelf Life
Canned Good 12+ months
Frozen Excellent 12 months
Dried Excellent 24 months

Harvesting Beans

Watch plants carefully as beans start to form and harvest every 2-3 days. Beans are ready to pick when the pods are well formed and rounded and snap readily if bent in half. Wax beans should have a good yellow color. Be sure to lift up the bean plants and look under the foliage to pick every ripe bean. This will promote a continued crop. If beans are left on the plants too long, the seeds overdevelop and the pods become tough. Poorly formed pods are caused by too dry soil, poor infertile soil, or insect damage. Lima beans are picked when the pods are well filled and still green in color. If the pods are yellowing, the beans are too mature and can be left on the vine and picked later to use as dry beans.

Bean Pests

  • Mexican Bean beetle – A coppery brown beetle with black spots that lays yellow eggs and goes through an ugly nymph stage. Crush the yellow egg clusters when seen and hand pick beetles. Plant marigolds between rows to repel beetles.
  • Aphids – Plant nasturtiums between rows.



10. (Salad mix) Mesclun –


“The traditional mix usually includes chervil, arugula, leafy lettuces and endive, while the term may also refer to an undetermined mix of fresh and available baby salad greens,[1] which may include lettuces, spinach, arugula (rocket, or roquette),Swiss chard (silver beet), mustard, endive, dandelion, frisée, mizuna, mâche (lamb’s lettuce), radicchio, sorrel, or other leaf vegetables.”

“Our custom mix includes no less than 8 different baby greens (but no lettuce). It varies seasonally and includes fresh edible flowers during the summer. Ingredients include: tatsoi, mizuna, curly cress, arugula, frisee, radiccio, beet greens, baby kale, red mustard, frilly red mustard.. flowers include nasturtiums, calendula, bachelor buttons, and mustard.”


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