If you had room to plant only three vegetables, what would they be and why? I was recently asked this question by a friend. Before I get into what I would grow let me address why I would grow the ones I did choose. If I only had space for three vegetables I would make sure I first grow something that has a high yield and second, make sure I am growing something that I and my family would enjoy eating.
If you have limited space, just like any other product you buy, you want to get the greatest return from what you are growing. For example, if you only had space to plant three items, cauliflower will more than likely not be one of them, unless of course you absolutely love cauliflower. I personally would not choose this item because you are only going to get one plant in one space with one seed. Not a very good return with limited space.
Your best choices are items that will produce a lot on a single plant and preferably can grow up as opposed to out as you will see in my list.
I love having fresh picked beans with dinner and if you grow pole beans then you already know the amount you will get from a single seed. Pole beans are a great first choice because they fit the bill of both of our ROI (return on investment) requirements. They grow up as opposed to out and their yields are tremendous. Good choices are Blue Lake pole, Kentucky Blue, Kentucky Wonder Brown and Stringless Blue Lake. A single seed can produce hundreds of beans and if you are growing an heirloom variety be sure to save a few to plant again next season.
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Ok, technically speaking, tomatoes are botanically a fruit, but who can argue the choice of tomatoes. One single seed, according to a recent USDA study can produce over $50 worth of tomatoes. A tremendous return on the investment of time, space, work and cost. To maximize your limited space, choose a variety that produces an even larger amount such as cherry, grape, and yellow or red pear. These tomato varieties keep producing and producing and producing and… you get the point.
If you have grown any type of zucchini before then you already know what the return of just one zucchini seed can give you. My neighbor even told me one time of the old saying “zucchini plants produce so much, so fast, that you can literally watch the zucchini grow before your eyes.” While I won’t say that I have experienced that, I have planted just a couple of seeds and was able to not only keep plenty for my family, but give basket fulls away to neighbors, friends and relatives. Different varieties of zucchini (or other types of squash) will vary on yields. My favorites are the striped zucchini and black beauty.
Your list of vegetables grown from seed in limited space, I am sure, will be different, but these are my favorites. Cucumbers would be 4th on my list, just slightly behind the zucchini. What vegetable seeds would be on your list?
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us and creator of the Seeds Club.