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Jan 7, 2012 05:59 PM

Low-maintenance vegetable gardening

I am a college student taking a "Growing Sustainably" gardening class this coming spring semester. This class meets every Friday and I do not think that I will be able to go to my university's farm outside of class (it is not in walking distance and I do not own a car). I am interested in growing heirloom plants, such as those from the Seed Savers catalog. Also, I have past gardening experience, so I would like suggestions beyond super-easy things like beans and radishes. What do you suggest?

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  1. A lot depends on where you are located and the length of your growing season.

    4 Replies
    1. re: nami54

      My college is in western Kentucky, which is in hardiness zone 6 for reference.

      1. re: SydAll

        What sort of space do you have? A yard? Containers? Wil you be there over the summer, or are you looking for things that can be harvested before the end of the school year?

        1. re: MikeG

          My school has a farm for the ag/horticulture students that includes lots of space for organic gardening.There isn't much shade at all. I would love to grow things that can be harvested before the semester ends, but there are some students/staff (not including me) who will work on the farm in the summer, so really anything's fair game.

          1. re: SydAll

            Early producers that I like are lettuce, tarragon,basil, sorrel, baby Nantes carrots, radishes, chard, rhubarb, strawberries and peas. Avoid shady areas.

            Seeds and plants should go in long before the May 24 rule of thumb; just as soon as the soil is free of frost and there are warm days to encourage growth. You may have to cover plants when there is danger of frost at night. Use the 14 day weather charts.

            Tarragon and rhubarb have to come from root stock to be practical.

    2. You might look into container gardening. I am in the same zone and have raised tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant, peppers and brussels sprouts (among others) in self-watering containers. Saves having to dig a garden and maintenance is minimal. There is lots of advice on this on the web.

      (I thought I entered this post yesterday but it mysteriously disappeared. Perhaps because I included a link to another site--which I did not do this time.)

      1. Dried beans - Seed Savers has lots of types. I like the pole bean varieties for their space-saving character; I love dried beans in general because you plant 'em, water 'em and then wait for the vines to die before you harvest 'em.

        Alpine strawberries are somewhat drought tolerant and will produce all summer long, up until frost. I've raved on about them on another thread.

        +1 on the self-watering container suggestion - those things are great.