I started out trying to grow some of the the most common, tastiest vegetables in my area. Tomatoes and watermelon. I love eating them but after several seasons of trying, I still haven't gotten a good watermelon for one reason or another and tomatoes take up too much space for their subpar output in my gardens so far.
However, the zucchini squash I plant never fails and makes me feel like a gardening goat! Papalo does wonderful but cilantro bolts. Mint, if in the right spot, can thrive.
It might simply be a matter of location that causes failures of certain plants while others thrive.
Our watermelon plants get full sun for the whole day, they do far better than when we had them planted in an area that was shaded in the late afternoon.
Tomatoes are another plant that wants all the sunlight it can get and that means they are going to be very thirsty as well.
We have been growing tomatoes in organic straw bales for several years now and as long as rains don't drown the plants early in life, they produce bushels of tomatoes all season long.
(this year was the first time our plants got drowned all spring long and they didn't do well because of it)
Our biggest issue is insect damage, this is something that we southerners have to simply deal with since we have such a long growing season. (End of March to the end of November or mid December)
Check your sun hours first, then check your soil (if you are growing in ground) there should be lots of fungi in the garden bed, lots of worms are a really good indicator of your soil's health profile.
Organic matter in the soil is also key, many writers want under 10% organic matter, I prefer to try for at least 20% organic matter in my garden soils, organic matter supports the microbiome life forms we have to have present for the best plant growth.
"Cide" remediation is done with large quantities of fungi and bacteria, compost is the "usual" method of increasing these organism numbers regardless of what you want to grow, more microorganisms is usually a good thing.
Cilantro likes partial shade, when it grows in such sunlight hours it won't be quick to bolt. (Cilantro (coriander) doesn't like to dry out, when that occurs the plant will "bolt" because it feels death coming on and must make seed for the species to survive.
The 3 perrenials i have in my garden are the easiest to grow. Blackberry, asparagus, and goji berry. The reasoning might be obvious-plant once, harvest for years. I could add herbs like rosemary because they are perrenials but i had to pull them for space reasons as we use it rarely and deer fenced garden area is limited.
hau Wayne, Deer hate rosemary (ask me how I know), We keep ours planted out side our fenced in garden acre, no animal has bothered the bush in four years.
I tested the rosemary idea by taking sprigs and placing them near the mineral blocks I keep out for the donkey and deer. Neither the donkey or the deer would get close to the mineral block that had the sprigs of rosemary close to the block.
The block that I used for the control (no rosemary nearby) became the block of choice. I then removed the rosemary sprigs and after one light rain the donkey and the deer were back at the test block since it is the one nearest the woods.
I came to that realization this season which is why i pulled it. I replanted in my unprotected food forest area, giving me more room in my protected area. My plan is to plant a lot of herbs in that outside area. Blitz seed it, see what wants to be there.
I have found that the more aromatic the herb, the less likely 4 legs will want to eat it.
I've also found that if I plant the herbs the deer (and donkey) love inside a ring of those things they don't like to eat, those "yum" plants will have some good protection, especially if the animals have to stretch over the "revolting herb".
My tomatoes did well this year, but it varies from year to year. Okra is always a safe bet for production. Peaches and pears typically do well if the spring isn't too wet & we don't have a bad year for bugs. Goji and beautyberry have produced well in my food forest with minimal care. Squash/melons/cukes do great until the squash/stink bugs show up. For greens, Malabar spinach is super, and spreads/reseeds everywhere. Kale will grow all year if protected from the sun.
My beans did poorly this year, as did my little fruittrees due to a huge aphid infestation.
I wish I could grow things like moringa in the ground here, but I think I'm right at the cutoff where it just barely gets too cold to make it through the winter (so planning to try some zone-pushing with the crop of seeds ripening on my potted tree).
I don't know if I will be able to get my Moringa through the winter, but they grow so fast it is possible to just grow them as an annual. My trees started from seed this spring are ten feet tall, the largest with a trunk diameter of 2 and a half inches!
It has taken me 5 years to figure out what does well in yard. While I have bright full sun all day I also have glacial sand for soil and I am on the side of a windy hill. I am in Northern New England and battle a cold wet spring and about 100 frost free days.
I trialed 2 dozen different tomatoes and 18 different bell peppers to find 3 or varieties of each that do well in my yard. I have done this with all the other veggies I grow. I am starting to save seed from the varieties that do well. I have also stopped trying to grow the things that consistently don't do well like eggplant and celery.
I have found most of my best heirloom varieties came from local to regional seed suppliers. Getting seeds from growers in your area really makes a difference. Most of my seeds come from NY, Maine, and Vermont so they can deal with my growing conditions.
Some things replant themselves ever year and these are the easiest foods I grow.
Oregano, bok choi, Red Russian kale, tomatillos, and autumn olive are the better "weeds" in my garden. They are all pulled when in the way and consumed, transplanted, or given away.
My ever-bearing strawberries love wood chip mulch and keep sending out new baby plants. They are finally running out of room in their current home so I will transplant a bunch of them this spring.
Hard neck garlic is so easy for me to grow now that I have been saving my own garlic for 4 years. I initially tried 5 types of garlic in my yard and Music was the only one that did well. I plant the cloves in the fall and mulch them. In the spring they get more compost and mulch. Other than weeding them a few times in the summer I don't do anything to them other than harvest the scapes and the garlic.
Lovage is a herb I cook with and once I got the plant established I have done nothing to it except some weeding and harvesting. It is 4 years old now. Thyme is the same way. Rosemary dies back every winter here and my sage dies when hit with a really cold winter without enough snow cover.
Since I live in the area blueberries are native they are super easy for me to grow. Raspberries and Concord type grapes are also super easy and productive for me.
My frustration with foods that are easy to grow, is that they are easy to grow! I know that sounds kind of circular, but it is very true.
What I mean is, take potatoes for instance. They are easy to grow, but my goodness, I have limited garden space, so why fill it up with potatoes that I can buy at the store for $10 and get 50 pounds?
And zucchini, that is easy to grow, and has many uses, but the ONLY time I lock my car is during Zuccini Season because if you do not, some well meaning neighbor will fill your backseat with them not knowing three other neighbor's did the day before! The same is to be said for broccoli, green beans and lettuce!
I would like to go through the extra effort and plant perennial vegetables. I found that there is a perennial Okra and will try again to grow Orach.
Would asparagus grow well with only 4 to 5 hours of sun? Looking for other options that I can chop to ground at the end of the season and bring in wood chips to lay on top and let them decay over the winter.
"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning." —Albert Einstein
So climate dependent. For me Potatoes, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, runner beans, broad beans, onions, courgette and garlic are all plant and forget crops (other than weeding) Strawberries do take some work clipping runners and generally stopping them getting overgrown (but I have over 1000 plants so it's probably not that bad on a smaller scale) Apples, plums, pears, rhubarb, horseradish, mint, chives, lovage, angelica and fennel are all plant and forget perennials here