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The Best Vegetables for Your Garden

You can grow healthy and delicious tomatoes, sweet corn, crunchy carrots and more in your own backyard. Discover the best veggies for home gardens, plus learn how to grow them.

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Photo: Shutterstock/Phil Darby

Grow Your Own Veggies for Fresh Taste and Great Flavor

Homegrown tomatoes are juicy and just-picked corn, boiled in water with a little salt, is sweet and tender. Many veggies are delicious and easy to grow, but the best vegetables for your garden are the ones you and your family will actually eat, so choose your favorites.

First, check out the USDA Gardening Zone Map. Whether you plant seeds or young plants, they need time to mature before your first frost — although crops like collards don't mind some cold, and others, like cabbage, can survive the winter.

Before you plant, do a soil test or have your soil tested by your extension service so you'll know if it needs amendments. Then click through our list of the best vegetables for your garden and learn how to grow a bountiful harvest.

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Photo: Nancy Ondra

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are started from slips (shoots from mature plants), not seeds. Order them by mail or make them from store-bought potatoes, although the varieties won't necessarily be labeled.

To make your own slips, wash the sweet potatoes and cut them into big pieces. Put each piece in a jar of water; use toothpicks to hold half of it above the water. Keep the slips in a warm spot and leafy sprouts will appear in a few weeks. Next, twist each sprout off the sweet potato and submerge the bottom half in a bowl of water until the roots are an inch long.

Plant slips in loose, fast-draining soil, spaced 12 to 18 inches apart. Cover the bottom half with soil and leave the top half uncovered. Thoroughly water the slips and water again daily for the first week. Water every other day in the second week. Harvest when indicated on the packing sheet that came with the slips. Most varieties take 90 to 120 days to mature. Keep reading to learn how to dig, store and cure your delicious sweet potatoes.

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Spring Peas

Snow peas, garden peas and sugar snap peas (left to right) are called spring peas. Remove the strings, and you can eat the whole pods of snow and sugar snap peas. Garden peas, also called sweet peas, shelling peas or English peas, are harvested when the pods feel full and firm, and they're shelled before eating.

Plant peas four to six weeks before your last spring frost and sow again six to eight weeks before your first fall frost. Peas need well-draining soil mixed with organic matter in a site that gets full sun in cool climates and some afternoon shade in warmer climates. Plant 1 to 1-1/2 inches deep and 1 inch apart in rows spaced 18 to 24 inches apart. Keep the soil evenly moist once the peas are up. Most varieties are ready to pick 60 to 70 days from sowing. Want to know about trellising your plants and different varieties of peas? Read our growing guide.

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Photo: Nancy Ondra


Potatoes are the most popular vegetable in the US and some of the best vegetables for your garden. Start them from seed potatoes (small pieces of mature tubers) with one or two buds per piece. Plant in early spring, a few weeks before your last frost date but after all the danger of a hard freeze has passed. If you garden in a freeze-free region, plant in fall or winter.

Dig a furrow and keep the extra soil beside it. Put the seed potatoes in the bottom, eyes up, 2 to 3 inches deep. Space them 12 inches apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. As the plants grow, they'll develop stolons (stems that curve back into the ground). Hill the potatoes (use a hoe to pull the extra soil over the stolons) so the tubers are in complete darkness. Most varieties are ready to harvest three or four months after planting.

Click below to learn more about hilling, harvesting and growing potatoes in containers.

learn more about growing potatoes

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