I have a friend who's gardening for the first time in her life. She lives near Dartmouth and isn't from the area originally. I (she) need advice in easy beginner plants for the area. Neither of us know any gardeners nearby. Also, is there anything that direct sows easily there?
When you reach your lowest point, you are open to the greatest change.
For a small state, New Hampshire covers quite a wide range of USDA plant hardiness zones (zones 3b to 6a) which makes it kind of hard to know what will do well for your friend. We could do a better job if we had a more precise location. EDIT -- Sorry, I just saw that she lives near Dartmouth so... pretty cold.
However, there are many crops that love cool weather AND do not require a long growing season. Those would be your best bets -- along with being easy to grow, of course. I suggest radishes as a first crop because there is NOTHING easier to grow than radishes. The fact that they come up almost immediately (3 to 7 days usually), don't mind cool weather (so you can put them in early in the spring and late in the autumn) and they are ready to eat in about 2 to 3 weeks after they come up, makes them a perfect beginner crop. They also have edible leaves so you get two crops in one!
Other good easy choices for a cool spring are potatoes, onions, beets, carrots, leeks, peas, lettuces, any of the brassicas (cabbages, Brussels sprouts, broccoli), mustard greens, turnips (edible greens as well), pak choy, arugula, cilantro, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, parsley and tons of other greens.
I would also look into some of the early. cold tolerant tomatoes like Siberian, Stupice, Alaska and practically any variety that originated in Russia. You could also try growing peppers and bush cucumbers in pots to take indoors when the weather gets colder.
There really are a lot of good choices that are easy, quick growing and capable of handling a shorter growing season. Just experiment and have fun!
I'd suggest she pick 5 plants that she'll like to eat (perhaps from Deb's good list) and start there. Easy ones that work in my 4a garden are kale, lettuce, peas, pole beans, tomatoes (especially cherry), potatoes, zucchini, carrots, cabbage and beets. Peppers are possible but bell style ones are much harder to grow than hot peppers. Onions are good but make sure she gets long daylength varieties. Those are the type we need up north.
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