Top Ten Vegetables to Plant in your 2020 Victory Garden

by Heather McDermott

In the past few weeks, food shortages (especially fresh produce) have been the norm in grocery stores. This, in part, is prompting a rising interest in gardening. Seed and garden supply companies are seeing a surge of sales as people head to their backyards to start their 2020 Victory Gardens. Whether you are looking for a distraction during this time of social distancing or are looking to have your own supply of fresh produce at your fingertips, here are my top ten vegetables to most definitely add to your list. I chose these vegetables based on calories per square foot, yield per square foot, ease of growing, timeliness, and storage capabilities.

1. Potatoes – A versatile crop that is high in calories. Potatoes can also be stored for several months in the right conditions. Don’t forget to hill them a couple of times during the summer; this will increase your yield. Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate.

2. Lettuce – The key to lettuce is planting successions. Keep your seed packet handy, and seed your lettuce every couple of weeks for a continuous supply from early spring to late fall. Difficulty Level: Easy

3. Zucchini and Summer Squash – High yield per square foot and a relatively long harvest period. Don’t let them get too big, harvest them daily at about 6 inches long, and you will still have too many, but they will be tender and crunchy instead of tough and stringy. Difficulty Level: Easy

4. Onions – Onions are a must if for no other reason that to make your food taste good! It might be too late to start onions from seed for storage onions, but you can get some onion sets, which are dormant plants about pencil-thin. Planting sets will better ensure your harvest. When selecting your onion sets, remember to choose “Intermediate day” varieties (if you live in Colorado) as the bulbing phase of the onion is determined by day length and temperature. Difficulty Level: Moderate

5. Bush Beans – Continuously producing and you can blanch and freeze the extras. We grew a variety called Affirmed last year and loved it. Very prolific, smooth skin and crispy. Difficulty Level: Easy

6. Beets and Carrots – storable, and loaded with nutrition. Plus, you can also eat the beet tops in your salads or steamed like spinach. If you choose an early maincrop and storage variety, you can have carrots on the menu most of the year. Pro tip: If you can get pelleted seed, try it! We use pelleted seed to get a precise spacing between each plant since they very much do not like to be crowded. Difficulty Level: Moderate

7. Herbs – Many herbs like Thyme, Oregano, Sorrel and Chives, and perennials and will come back every year. Others like cilantro and basil are annuals. One of the great things about herbs is that they typically have a small footprint and can be planted in and around other crops. They are also excellent for growing in containers on your patio.

8. Bright Lights Swiss Chard– They are called bright lights for their multi-colored beauty, this variety of swiss chard is hearty and delicious as a steamed vegetable. Swiss chard can take a while to get up to size, so I recommend buying plants. Swiss chard is a ‘cut and come again’ vegetable, so by simply harvesting the lower leaves of the plant, you will encourage new growth and ensure a continuous supply. Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

9. Winter Squash – There are many different varieties of winter squash, but the best thing about them is their ability to store for several months. A large portion of the CRMS garden goes to growing winter squash varieties. They are a staple in the CRMS kitchen. We still have a few butternut squash cubed and frozen from last season! Difficulty Level: Moderate

10. Greens – Greens like Mizuna, Arugula, or mustard greens are very quick growing and could be an excellent fast salad source in your victory garden. From seed to harvest as a baby salad green is only about 21 days! Many times your will be able to get a second or third harvest from the same planting. Difficulty Level: Easy

Click here to learn more about the CRMS Garden program. 

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