My Must Grow Plants: Food Crops

Deciding what to grow each season is exciting and filled with so many choices. In fact it can be overwhelming, especially for new gardeners. There are hundreds of options from dozens of seed catalogs. After you have been growing for a few seasons you will naturally find what works in your garden, what your family likes to eat and what you love to grow. When you hit this trifecta you can collect seeds and sow these year after year. Don’t be afraid to always try something new each year too. You never know what will become a new favorite! I am sharing some food crops that I love to grow, thrive in my garden and gets ate by my family.

  • Bush Beans – I love growing bush beans because they don’t take up a lot of space in my raised beds, can be grown in containers and produce a lot of food, especially with succession planting. The three main varieties I sow each year are Royal Burgundy, Contender, and Blue Lake 274.
  • Pole Beans – When grown on an arch trellis or another sloping trellis they hang so beautifully. They can also be grown in containers with the right supports. I love these varieties: Trionfo Violetto and Blue Lake FM-1K.
  • Tomatoes (Both Indeterminate and determinate)- Who doesn’t love a fresh garden grown tomato? Especially when it’s picked and ate immediately! I love to experiment with various tomatoes each year, but I do have some tried and true varieties that I love to grow time and time again. Indeterminate: Sun Gold, Chocolate Cherry, Red & Yellow Pear Blend, and many more. Determinate: Glacier, Italian Roma (mostly Roma as it’s my family’s favorite)
  • Spinach – I by far love Bloomsdale spinach for its big green leaves and wonderful taste. I have grown this variety for years and it always produces the most delicious spinach. I also like to grow the Anna variety.
  • Chard – Next to kale this is probably my favorite garden green to grow. Being a biennial plant (has a 2 year life span- growing leaves the first year and going to seed the second year), I can grow this from spring until the next spring. It will set seed pretty quickly the second year, which is a plus if you are saving seeds. I have great success growing two types Five Color Silverbeet and Fordhook Giant.
  • Kale – This is probably the easiest one to grow besides herbs. It is extremely hardy and continuously produces leaves, harvest after harvest. I love all varieties of kale, but have a few favorites that I make sure I have in my garden each year. Nero Toscana, Dazzling Blue, Dwarf Blue Curled, and Red Russian.
  • Beets – I love the versatility of beets, being able to use the beet greens like I would any other garden green makes this a 2 for 1 food crop. There are many varieties, but I especially like Early Wonder beets. They always produce well and are quick growing. I also like Gourmet Blend and Chioggia.
  • Peas – If you are looking for mega harvests of sweet, crisp delicious goodness then peas will become a must grow plant in your garden. I love snacking on them straight off the plant while working in the garden. I love Sugar Snap Peas, Progress #9 and Oregon Sugar Pod II.
  • Peppers (Both sweet/mild and hot) – Golden Cal Wonder, Shishito, Jimmy Nardello, Orange Sun, California Wonder, Early Jalapeño. (My youngest son always grow a habanero plant.)
  • Squash – Summer Squash can be so prolific that by the end of it’s growing season you may be tired of eating it and find yourself giving it away. The varieties I go to again and again are Early Prolific Straightneck (yellow) and Black Beauty Zucchini.

There are many other things that I grow in the garden like garlic, onions, carrots, kohlrabi, bok choy and cabbage, etc. The food crops listed above can give you many harvests. Finding tried and true varieties that work for you year after year helps you plan your garden and can save you money when you save their seeds. *Unless the variety you love is a hybrid, for those you will need to purchase seeds each year. Don’t be afraid to try new varieties each year too. I am so thankful I decided to try chocolate cherry tomatoes one year as they became a favorite and now I make sure to have at least one plant in the garden each year. In time you will discover what you love to grow. I would love to hear what’s on your must grow food crops list! Please share in the comments.

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