Wouldn’t it be great, when it comes to your vegetable garden, if you could just plant it and forget it? Some of our favorites, like tomatoes, eggplants, and carrots, require almost constant care for a successful crop. And while there are certainly edible plants that pop up without much, if any, intervention on your part—the plant that sprouted from a fallen tomato, now somehow thriving in full shade and producing fruit; the lemon balm planted decades ago and still growing, unfortunately, everywhere—I’m talking about a more reliable list of vegetables that you can pretty much ignore, barring normal low-lift maintenance, like watering. There are, of course, no pest- and disease-free plants, but what sets these five vegetables apart is their high success rate. If their needs are mostly met, they survive and can thrive, leaving you more time to focus on the needier members of your garden.
1. Scarlet Runner Beans
Provide them with support and they will produce in abundance! They have stunning red and sometimes white or pink flowers that bees adore. After the flowers, the plants produce a heavy harvest of pods containing speckled purple or pink beans that would make a stunning necklace if they weren’t food.
Providing a late spring and early summer crop, and then again in the fall, beets are very low-maintenance. You can buy seed tape (a paper tape that has the seeds embedded at the correct spacing) with which you literally have to just dig a small trench, lay down the tape and cover with soil. Keep watered and harvest in around two months. Beets do attract a few pests that mostly affect the tops, but nothing serious.
Plant in the fall and harvest the scapes (for hardneck varieties) in June and the bulbs in July. That’s it. Really. Nothing in your garden wants to munch on raw garlic.
Plant the seeds early spring or late summer and water. Wait a few weeks, then harvest. It’s not really in the ground long enough to attract attention from most pests. It can be harvested at the microgreens stage or when the heads fully form. Or time in between.
Another spring and fall crop that is quick and easy. Most varieties are about 20 to 25 days to harvest. Flea beetles can munch on the leaves and there are a few other pests, but due to their quick maturity, you’ll harvest them before anything can really get to them.
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