• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • r ranson
  • Nancy Reading
  • Anne Miller
  • Jay Angler
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Nicole Alderman
master gardeners:
  • Christopher Weeks
  • Timothy Norton
gardeners:
  • Matt McSpadden
  • Rachel Lindsay
  • Jeremy VanGelder

Vegetables for Learning Gardening

 
gardener
Posts: 1866
Location: Japan, zone 9a/b, annual rainfall 2550mm, avg temp 1.5-32 C
922
2
kids home care trees cooking bike woodworking ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just had a random thought... it might be an interesting brain storm, or maybe not.

Are there some representative vegetables/plants that you would recommend beginner gardeners to grow for the purpose of learning about some aspect of gardening or horticulture?

I'm really still a novice gardener so my examples might be off base, but -

For example, growing leaf lettuce taught me that you don't have to harvest the whole head like you see in the grocery store, but rather just grab a few of the outer leaves from enough plants to make your salad.

Or... growing okra taught me that the more you harvest (and interestingly remove lower leaves) the more you get growing.

Other things might be spacing lessons like - Carrots show how spacing really matters (except according to Paul in a polyculture where they aren't inhibited) because if grown too intensively they produce tiny thin carrots.

I don't know what else, but it would be helpful if there were especially representative examples for beginners like me to learn from.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1495
854
2
trees bike woodworking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In your climate I would suggest ginger. You can learn about propagation from a rhizome and have perpetual ginger supply. There’s plenty of really good online advice about growing ginger. What you might not know, is you can eat the whole plant. The leaves are aromatic and can be used as a fresh herb. You can also infuse them. I’m sure you could expand and grow turmeric, galangal and other kinds of ginger - it’s a big family.

Great topic.
 
Posts: 11
Location: Indiana, zone 6a
4
hugelkultur rabbit fiber arts
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


Are there some representative vegetables/plants that you would recommend beginner gardeners to grow for the purpose of learning about some aspect of gardening or horticulture?

Hey!
I found out SO MUCH about pollination by having various winter squash in my garden.
I had 1 hill of butternut squash in my new suburban Indiana garden and no fruit set in late July. I sat there thinking and realized I had literally never seen a bee. So I learned to hand pollinate them. And to plant flowers early in the year to draw pollinators. And the next year we had so many bees, they stole all the pollen before i woke up and didnt pollinate the female flowers, so I learned to tape up a male flower the night before I thought a female would open. I got some that year, but they were small.
The next year I learned about their root systems and how to dig a pit for extra compost for them...

Aaaand so it goes. Squash.
 
Posts: 15
Location: Hamilton, Canada
2
5
food preservation building writing
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Katherine Pettus wrote:
Hey!
I found out SO MUCH about pollination by having various winter squash in my garden...
The next year I learned about their root systems and how to dig a pit for extra compost for them...
Aaaand so it goes. Squash.



I too have had great results with squash. Much of the seed I use comes from saving seeds from my own harvest.
It's enjoyable to see the vines produce the little baby squashes and then watch them balloon into full grown, basically displaying the magic of gardening right in front of me.
I love butternut squash...
GB, Hamilton
 
pollinator
Posts: 766
Location: Western MA, zone 6b
466
cat dog forest garden foraging urban food preservation
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tomatoes are good ones to learn about rooting cuttings and starting new plants!
 
master pollinator
Posts: 984
Location: Wheaton Labs, Montana, USA
1567
9
home care trees books wofati food preservation bike bee building writing seed
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would suggest conventional radishes. In my experience, they're a low-maintenance, "quick win" plant that is ready to harvest in a bit over a month or so. Plus, if you let them go to seed they show their bizarre seed pods and essentially go through their entire life cycle quickly. You learn the signs of plants when they're too young, when they're ready to harvest, and when they've over-ripened and are bolting and flowering.
 
gardener
Posts: 3044
Location: Western Slope Colorado.
587
4
goat dog food preservation medical herbs solar greening the desert
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I planted a few different colors of leaf lettuce, ate what I wanted, and let it go to seed.  I gathered SOME of the seed, left most of the seed stalks in place.  

The next year, the lettuce germinated months earlier than I would have planted it.  It made a solid canopy, prevented weeds from germinating, and made a beautiful multi colored edible cover crop.

With leaving sunflower seeds in place on the ground where they fell, I learned that they will germinate even before the last frost, certainly before seed packet recommendations.  My guess on this is that if a seed is in a little crevice, all tucked in, the ground isn’t actually freezing, the sunflower seeds do need warmth to germinate, but adequate warmth can be supplied in a little microclimate.

Seeds can be expensive.  I have been using seed I grew for these discoveries.  Because I couldn’t possibly afford to buy enough seed to  over seed in this way.
 
master steward
Posts: 14867
Location: USDA Zone 8a
4103
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I learn gardening while in elementary school using pinto beans.

After getting married, I mostly had house plants folks gave me cutting from, like aloe vera and spider plants.

I remember starting some from seeds.

When we moved to our homestead, I used the same technique I had  been taught in elementary school, which served me well.

I still feel that pinto beans are an excellent vegetable to learn gardening from.

The seeds can be bought at the grocery store on the dry bean aisle.

Make a hole in the ground, put some beans in the hole and keep watered until they sprout, then water as needed.
 
pollinator
Posts: 99
Location: Yorkshire, UK 🇬🇧 (Zone 8A, I think)
58
cat urban ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would agree, tomatoes are a great plant for teaching how to take cuttings. Also mint or succulents. They’re all super easy to propagate.

I guess corn would be good to teach about genetics and basic plant breeding if you use coloured corn, as you could show how each kernel was individually fertilised and is genetically different to its cob mates. Violas or pansies could work too, as they’re supposed to be very promiscuous 😉.

Trying a three sisters planting could teach how plants can be grown together to help each other out.

Beans are fun. They can be used to teach the sprouting on wet paper towels method, about natural fertilisation methods as they fix nitrogen in the soil, and how much variety there is that just can’t get unless you grow them yourself 😊 They only sell the green French beans in my local supermarkets, but I can grow purple, yellow or speckled.

Pretty much any edible plant can teach how much better home grown stuff tastes.
 
gardener
Posts: 1485
Location: Zone 6b
972
forest garden fungi books chicken fiber arts ungarbage
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would like to recommend flax, not for fiber or seeds but as a convenient soil fertility indicator. Flax has so many advantages:

Seeds are cheap to buy in bulk
Fast germination and high germination rate
Can be broadcasting directly into existing vegetated area
Resilient, fast growing and consistent growth in the given spot
Blue flowers easy to spot for visual cue
Whole plants can be pulled for further quantification without disturbing neighbor plants

I dubbed the number of flower buds the " flax index" since it conveniently located within one hundred. I broadcasted flax seeds in different areas to get a general idea of soil conditions. Average numbers are in the twenties. Here the photo showed two extremes: flaxes growing in two spots just four feet away with the same water and light conditions. One grew in the original compact clay soil and the other in garden with soil improved. The contrast was so glaring.
P1170436.JPG
4 vs 80. Flax plants growing in original and improved soils.
4 vs 80. Flax plants growing in original and improved soils.
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 3044
Location: Western Slope Colorado.
587
4
goat dog food preservation medical herbs solar greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

May Lotito wrote:I would like to recommend flax, not for fiber or seeds but as a convenient soil fertility indicator. Flax has so many advantages:

Seeds are cheap to buy in bulk
Fast germination and high germination rate
Can be broadcasting directly into existing vegetated area
Resilient, fast growing and consistent growth in the given spot
Blue flowers easy to spot for visual cue
Whole plants can be pulled for further quantification without disturbing neighbor plants

I dubbed the number of flower buds the " flax index" since it conveniently located within one hundred. I broadcasted flax seeds in different areas to get a general idea of soil conditions. Average numbers are in the twenties. Here the photo showed two extremes: flaxes growing in two spots just four feet away with the same water and light conditions. One grew in the original compact clay soil and the other in garden with soil improved. The contrast was so glaring.



Fascinating!  I’m going to do this!

I can only get one image May posted.  Are there 3 more, represented by three little icons at bottom left?  I tried activating them by touching the screen, but they only stacked and unstacked
 
pollinator
Posts: 2429
Location: RRV of da Nort
645
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great ideas here already!   Just adding this link if you want to try some tutorial items regarding the inheritance of traits in some fast growing plants....some will go from planted seed to harvestable seeds in 30-40 days!

https://www.carolina.com/living-organisms/wisconsin-fast-plants/wisconsin-fast-plants-seed-varieties/10652.ct?Nr=product.siteId%3A100001&utm_campaign=home_nav_10476&utm_medium=link&utm_source=internal

These 'mustard' plants were developed as educational tools.....they are related to kale, broccoli, rapeseed, etc.....but come in different 'trait' varieties that you may be interested in.  For example, it's been noted before that beans are self-pollinating/self-fertile whereas most mustard/kale types are out-crossing:  You can order the mustards on this site to be either self-crossing or out-crossing and to have different leaf and flower traits that can be followed from your own pollination attempts.  Good for self-education as well as for kids under your tutelage.
 
pollinator
Posts: 330
Location: Midwestern USA, Zone 6b/Now 7a
97
cat foraging urban books chicken food preservation cooking medical herbs writing homestead composting
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I vote for that perfect perennial vegetable, asparagus. Minimal care, and spears for years.

Details here: https://brunettegardens.substack.com/p/this-fall-plant-the-lazy-gardeners

If you prefer to listen, here's a podcast version: https://brunettegardens.substack.com/p/podcast-no-3-this-fall-plant-the#details

 
Posts: 80
Location: Kentucky, USA
93
writing
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Beans are always my go-to beginner gardener plant recommendation.
I recommend Pole-style Pinto Beans because I like the 'surprise them with overwhelming success' for someone who is just starting out and has no idea what they're doing.

Find a spot in full sun: that is, for at least 6 hours a day, there are no shadows being cast on that spot from roofline, trees, fences, etc.
Build or find a sturdy trellis for the vine to grow up.
In a deep pot with holes in the bottom, or a hole you dug in the ground, fill it to the top with a mixture of 1:1 dirt and compost
Put the trellis next to it.
Plant 3-4 beans, so that they're 3-4 inches apart and about 1 inch down in the soil.
Stick your finger in the dirt every third day. If it's dry up to your knuckle, water the plants.

Easy, straightforward instructions.
Pole-style Pinto beans tend to sprout fast, get a lot of vegetative growth, and then spit out waves and waves of pods you can eat right off the vine, stir-fry, or let sit on the vine until they're naturally dried & ready to store.
You can also harvest the fast-growing young vines, and stir-fry or roast them like asparagus. The leaves are also edible when cooked, tasting akin to kale.
 
Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal! And this tiny ad too!
Botany Bonanza Bundle by Thomal Elpel
https://permies.com/wiki/240272/Botany-Bonanza-Bundle-Thomal-Elpel
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic