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How to Choose Plants for a Veggie Garden

So you got the itch, and now you want to try your hand at growing your own food? Not sure where to start? We’ll tell you.

Photo: ZSP

Unless you’re a master gardener, our recommendation is to start with the basics -- think tomatoes, broccoli, cabbages, kale, and peppers. Herbs like dill, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and chives are also great starters. Want to move up a level? Dwarf fruit trees like pear, apple, and cherry are all good performers and pretty disease-resistant. Plus, their smaller size makes them easier to pick and clean up after.

Be cautious with larger plants like pumpkin or watermelon: One pumpkin plant on its own can take up 10 to 12 square feet. If you really love the idea, just plan ahead and make sure you have enough space. Also, try not to go overboard when planting your veggies -- most people plant way too many tomatoes, in particular. You can only eat so much tomato salad...

Unfortunately, some of the tastiest plants are also the most invasive. Mint will take over your garden, as will (sigh) raspberries and blackberries. If you really want to grow them, look for a contained area -- a plant-free zone that’s bordered entirely by, say, a sidewalk or driveway.

Nestpert: Thomas McClain is a Minnesota landscape designer and owner of GrowWithDesign.com.

-- The Nest Editors

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