Easy Grow: Onions

Onions are a characteristically strong-flavored bulb that can be grown quickly in a garden. They make excellent companion plants, as they ward off many pests that afflict other fruits and vegetables, and they make an excellent addition to meals that need a pinch of flavor.

Starting: Onions can be started indoors before the average last frost, or sewn outside in early summer.

Sunlight: Onions have basic sunlight requirements. They don’t need any more or less sun than the average plant.

Water: The best way to water onions is to dig a trench in close proximity to them, in order to get water to the onion’s roots without watering the surface of the soil, which encourages weed growth.

Spacing: Onions can be spaced fairly close together, within 10 inches of each other.

Misc Tips: Onions do not have much trouble with disease or pests but cannot compete with weeds. Make sure to keep weeds out of your garden if you’re growing onions.

Easy Grow: Squash

Squash are one of the more challenging vegetables to grow, but when done right they can produce a bountiful and tasty harvest.

Starting: Squash is best started outdoors after the year’s last frost. It can be started indoors but it needs to be transplanted very carefully, as the roots are easily disturbed.

Sunlight: Squash require full sun for long periods of the day. Try to plant them in a west or south facing bed.

Water: Soil should be watered regularly and kept moist but well drained. Soil should be watered consistently, as unequal levels of soil moisture can give squash diseases.

Spacing: Squash should be planted 2-3 feet apart from one another.

Misc. Tips: Squash are sensitive to heat, but especially to frost. They should be planted only in warm soil, and are typically started in midsummer. Squash can be more disease prone than other plants, so be sure to keep them in an environment that isn’t conducive to fungal infections or pests. The best way to do this is to plant them in a polyculture with other vegetables that compliment each other.

Easy Grow: Peas

Peas are a cold season crop which are ideal for the Vermont climate. They do best in temperatures under 70 degrees and can be grown early in the season.

Starting: Peas can be started outdoors as early as 4 weeks before the average last frost.

Sunlight: Peas require some full sun, but do best in cooler temperatures. Try to keep them away from particularly warm areas.

Water: Peas only need to be watered sparsely. Don’t give them too much water or pods won’t form.

Spacing: 10-12 inches of spacing

Misc. Tips: Peas are legumes and fix nitrogen in the soil, making it available to nearby plants. Peas make great companions to any other plants in a garden for this reason. Peas can survive being under a blanket of snow, but cannot tolerate temperatures in the teens for more than a few days. Peas also do not need to be fertilized ever and have fragile roots that should not be disturbed by turning over nearby soil.

Easy Grow: Oregano

Oregano is an herb commonly used in conjunction with Italian dishes. It is quite versatile in its uses and has a strong, zesty taste. Oregano can be put in sauce or on pizza, as well as used in other ways.

Starting: Oregano can be started indoors before the average last frost, or started outdoors in midsummer to ensure that it is exposed to warm temperatures. If started indoors, it should be put outside around May 15th.

Sunlight: Oregano is more flavorful if it has greater access to full sun. Be sure to plant it in a sunny west or south facing plot for best results.

Water: Oregano likes moist, warm, well drained soil.

Spacing: 8-10 inches apart. Expect the plant to grow up to 18 inches in length. It can make excellent ground cover.

Misc. Tips: Oregano is a great companion plant for almost any garden vegetable. It is fairly easy to grow and requires low maintenance.

Easy Grow: Basil

Basil is a commonly used cooking herb that can be very versatile. It is often used in small quantities for flavoring and goes very well with tomatoes and tomato sauce. It can also be used to flavor mozzarella cheese, or used in large quantities to make pesto. Basil is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes when grown together in a garden.

Starting: Basil can be started indoors up to six weeks before the average last frost. It can typically be safely planted outside by May 15th.

Sunlight: Basil requires 6-8 hours of sunlight a day, so make sure to start it in a sunny window and move it to a sunny bed.

Water: Basil should be kept in moist soil with good drainage. In the heat of summer, it will need to be watered frequently as it dries out quickly. Using mulch can keep the soil damp even when it is hot out because mulch retains moisture.

Spacing: Basil should be planted 10-12 inches apart when put into its final growing location.

Misc. Tips: Pruning basil regularly and cutting off stems that are about to flower is the best way to keep it growing and producing more leaves. Flowering is an energy-intensive process, which means leaf growth is halted when flowers are produced.

Easy Grow: Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a staple of the modern vegetable diet. They can be eaten on their own or included in a salad, put on a pizza, or made into sauce. Here is what tomatoes require in order to grow:

Starting: Tomatoes can be started indoors in order to give seedlings a head start while nights are still too cold. They should be planted outside by May 15th.

Sunlight: Tomatoes need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. Make sure to plant them in a sunny spot. South and west facing windows and beds get the highest exposure to sunlight.

Water: Tomatoes need to be kept in moist soil. Be sure to water them frequently.

Spacing: Plants should be spaced between two and three feet apart.

Misc. Tips: To ensure that plants grow strong roots, bury up to 2/3 of the stem. Hairs on the stem will become roots when submerged in the soil, anchoring the plant and increasing water and mineral absorption. Watch out for fungal infections which will produce black spots on lower leaves, and remove these leaves if you see any. Watch out for caterpillars and remove them from tomato plants if they are eating the leaves.