Proper planning and research early on will determine the success of your garden, and ultimately how much food you can grow, and money you can make, off your crop.
I wanted to give you an idea of what I’m planting, and the reason I’m planting the things I’m planting. Keep in mind I’m a hobby farmer for now, and everything I do is by hand, organic, and done in my spare time. If you were to dedicate more time to this you could easily grow more, make more, and profit more!
My 2011 Grow List
- Snap Peas: Peas are a great crop that fix nitrogen into the soil. I’ll grow them in and around my corn rows, and anything I get from them will be an extra treat! These are also a great chicken feed addition. (See: Growing your own chicken feed) I’ll grow probably 30-50 plants worth.
- Dill: Dill is a great herb that can be added to many dishes, it’s easy to grow and attracts lots of beneficial insects! I’ll plant this near my tomatoes as some of the insects it attracts love to go after Hornworms and other nasties! I’ll grow around 30-50 plants worth.
- Sunflowers: Sunflowers grow very well with lots of sunlight and water, provide pounds worth of delicious sunflower seeds per flower, and can have their stocks ground up and recycled in my compost pile! The amount of food you get from sunflowers compared to the work to grow them is amazing – they also make a great additive for chicken feed! I’ll grow around 30 plants worth.
- Basil: Basil is grown in some of my raised growbeds and requires very little upkeep. During the spring and summer I go out to the garden, snap off a few leaves for salads, sandwiches, and Italian dishes I’m making, and the plant is never the wiser! At the end of the season I harvest all the leaves, clean them, dry them, and then grind them into a Basil sprinkle powder I can use for the rest of the year! These leaves also sell very well at farmers markets! I’ll grow around 15 plants worth.
- Corn: Corn is one of the most valuable crops you can grow. It’s used in all kinds of fashions including feed for your animals, fresh, or ground and put into a plethora of other recipes. Corn grows very well, is easy to plant and requires very little upkeep. It’s a good idea to spread corn out well and make it part of a crop rotation plan. I like to grow peas under mine to keep the soil moist and keep as many nutrients in the ground as possible. I also throw the remaining corn husks and stalks in a wood chipper that sprays into my compost pile each fall. Corn is absolutely worth growing if you keep some animals on your land as just about anything can fatten up nicely off it. I’ll grow around 125 plants worth. (Read more about how to grow corn)
- Watermelon: Watermelon is a fun and exciting plant. It’s one of the tastiest things you can grow, has fruit that stores well, and fetches amazing prices at the market place. Watermelon plants need lots of water and a reasonable amount of care. I will grow 5 plants worth.
- Cherry Tomatoes/Regular Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a wonderful thing to plant. For each plant you normally get way more than you can use, so be sure to can/dry/preserve the leftovers. With proper storage you can keep yourself and family in tomatoes year round off a good season. It’s a good idea to grow a few different types of tomatoes too, to keep your taste buds tantalized! This year I’ll be growing around 20 plants, 10 of each type.
- Jalapeno: Jalapeno plants are fun to grow, but require some upkeep. I grow them because I love spices and love adding them to various dishes. They can also be dried, crushed, and saved very well. I’ll grow 10 plants worth.
- Sweet Peppers: Sweet Peppers, much the same as Jalapenos, require a little monitoring and upkeep, and I haven’t had much luck with them in the past in my area, but I’m going to try them this year and see how it goes! I’ll grow around 20 plants worth.
- Pickling Cucumbers: Cucumbers have the incredible benefit of being delicious after being pickled! They are also a great food for chickens, fish, and even horses. They’re easy to grow but need to crawl, and need a good amount of space. I’ll grow around 20 plants worth.
- Onions: Onions are incredibly versatile, and can be chopped and dried to save for ages. They also do very well in root cellars and can last for months! They require little to no upkeep, a reasonable amount of water, and taste amazing fresh. I eat a lot of onions so I’ll probably grow around 40-50 this year.
- Mangel: This is something new I’m trying this year. Mangel is a form of beet and I heard it performs admirably in feeding chickens and livestock. It’s chalk full of calories and important vitamins, and easy to grow. I’m going to grow around 20-30 worth. (More information on Mangels)
- Broccoli: Broccoli is one of the best things you can eat, and is very easy to grow. It needs lots of sunlight and water, and you’ve got to make sure that the grasshoppers don’t spend too much time on it, but I always grow lots of Broccoli for it’s nutritional and cancer-fighting qualities. I will grow around 20 plants worth.
- Tobacco: I love growing my own Tobacco for use in Cigars and pipes. It’s easy to grow, creates a beautiful flower/plant during the spring and summer, and is easy to harvest. I’ll grow around 30 plants worth.
In addition to the garden I also have a small orchard with plums, peaches, pears, apples, and cherries. All my seeds are organically grown, purchased from trusted retailers, or are my own from the best plants the year before!