Sometimes it can be tricky to find useful vegetables that will grow in your garden. This is especially true if you’re unfamiliar with the United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones, or if you’re new to gardening. However, in order to be truly self-sufficient, you need to know what vegetables to plant and what you can do with those vegetables once you’ve harvested them. The best way to do this is to stick with basics that are exceptionally versatile. If you’ve been looking for a basic vegetable that will grow in your backyard – no matter what part of the United States that you live in (with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii, course) then you need to check out the list below:
1) Tomatoes – No matter where in the continental United States you are, there is a type of tomato that will thrive in your garden. From the heirloom varieties to the classic beefsteak tomatoes, you will have plenty of shapes, sizes and colors of this vegetable (although technically a fruit) to pick from for your garden. Don’t leave out the tiny cherry or grape tomatoes either, as they can be eaten in salads or added to a shish kabob. You can also add tomatoes to many meals, make sauces out of them, or turn them into soup.
2) Lettuce – Like tomatoes, there are numerous types of lettuce, and you will be able to find at least one kind to plant. There are “head” lettuces, like iceberg, and “leaf” lettuces like romaine, plus “hybrid” varieties like summercrisp, which fall somewhere in between the “head” and “leaf” types of lettuce. This versatile vegetable can be added to tacos, used to top off a freshly barbecued cheeseburger, and become the base of a fresh garden salad.
3) Squash – There are several different types of squash, all of which are divided into one of two categories: summer or winter. Summer squashes, like zucchini and pattypan, will grow anywhere in the United States, but some winter squashes, like butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash are pickier. Pumpkins are considered a winter squash, but they will grow throughout the country. Depending on the variety, squash can be sliced up and grilled, made into breads or pies, and even sliced and substituted for pasta noodles.
4) Cabbage – Another fairly versatile vegetable is the cabbage. There are several different types to choose from; including red, white, green and Savoy, and all can be served in different ways. Cabbage can be sliced up and made into sauerkraut, wrapped around ground beef and topped with tomato sauce to make stuffed cabbage, or simply shredded and tossed into a salad.
5) Peppers – Although different types thrive in different areas of the country (i.e. hot peppers prefer warmer weather while sweet peppers like the cooler north and Midwest) you will be able to grow at least one variety of pepper in your yard no matter where you live. Sweet peppers can be used in everything from salad to stuffed pepper (also known as Spanish rice) and hot peppers work well in tacos, salsas and even make a great pizza topping.
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Pic by Public Domain Photos.