Large fast-germinating seeds. Pole beans
twine up on a simple support; a teepee made of bamboo poles
is fine. 'Scarlet Runner' beans have showy flowers and
edible pods. For best edible beans plant Blue Lake, Derby,
Romano, Pencil Wax. The old variety Kentucky Wonder does not
perform well in hot summers, so it's not a good choice here.
For gourmet appetites, try Asparagus (Yardlong) beans.
Small seeds, incredibly easy to grow, and
reseeds merrily around your garden. The leaves smell like
cucumber and are edible. The sky blue flowers are
interesting and pretty, and useful for drawing bees into the
Small seeds, requiring warm temperatures
to sprout and grow, Cosmos will bloom in just a few weeks
from May or June sowing. Flowers are hot shades of pink,
red, orange, yellow, and are especially attractive to
butterflies. Will reseed itself, but not annoyingly.
Large seeds. These always seem to
fascinate younger children. Large seeds sprout quickly. The
plant is a vine which will cover a fence or trellis, or grow
right up and over other plants in your vegetable garden. The
flowers are big and showy, and then gourds develop from
about July through fall. Choices include Birdhouse gourd,
Luffa sponge gourd, and many odd-shaped ones grown for
Medium-size seeds. These have a hard seed
coat, and require a little help to get going. Either gently
file the seed coat (tedious!), or soak the seeds overnight
before planting. Otherwise they may take weeks to sprout.
Incredibly vigorous vines with beautiful, showy flowrs that
open in morning, close by mid-afternoon. These scramble up
on fences, trellises, sheds, shrubs, trees…you get the idea.
Easy-to-grow, hard-go-get-rid-of! Reseeds
everywhere, and successive generations usually have pink
flowers. The closely related Moonflower opens huge, pure
white flowers in the late afternoon and well into the
evening. Caution: seeds are poisonous.
Large seeds, fast germinating, very easy.
The only one I've listed which will grow as readily in shade
as in sun. Most are short plants to a foot or so, but
trailing types can be nudged up onto a trellis to act as a
vine (or allowed to trail over a path, recreating the look
of Monet's garden). Flowers are edible, peppery.
Small seeds. Also called Love-in-a-Mist
and Persian Jewels. Just throw the seed out somewhere in
your garden and you'll never be rid of this lovely flowering
plant. Pretty blue flowers (also available in pink and
white) surrounded by lacy foliage; then the puffy seed pods
are attractive in their own right. And then they scatter
seed far and wide….Butterflies love Nigella.
Large seeds, germinate quickly, very easy.
There are dwarf types (Teddy Bear only gets 2' tall!), and
medium-height varieties grown just for the flowers. If you
want the big plant with edible seeds, grow Russian Giant
(aka Mammoth)--it gets to 10' +! If you don't harvest the
seeds in the late summer, the songbirds will enjoy them as
winter comes along. And some of them will resprout the next
Very small seeds, very tiny seedlings, but
very easy. Just sow the seed here and there and you'll
always have it. Fragrant purple, pink, or white blossoms
attract beneficial insects; subsequent generations gradually
revert to the white form. Each plant blooms for 10 - 12
weeks; as it's dying, there is a new crop sprouting.
Vegetables and herbs.
Most are simplest to transplant from young
starts, but a few sprout quickly and readily.
Basil has very small seeds, but sprouts in
just a few days and the seedlings don't need to be thinned.
Grows best in full sun, but ok in some shade. For pots, the
Spicy Globe variety is a natural dwarf with tiny leaves and
great flavor; excellent to keep in a pot near the kitchen
Root crops don't transplant well, so they
are best sown in place. Carrots take several weeks to
germinate due to the presence of an inhibitor in the seed
coat. Put the seeds in a bowl, pour boiling water over them,
and let them sit overnight to hasten germination. An old
trick is to plant carrots and radishes together, since the
radishes take only a few weeks to grow and form the edible
roots. As you're pulling them out, the carrots are just
beginning to grow.
Beets and turnips are incredibly easy to
grow, and to my surprise my own kids enjoyed eating
them--even raw, in the case of turnips. My grandmother
belonged to the New England school of cooking--boil all
vegetables to death. It took me a long time to learn that
beets don't have to be squishy and turnips don't have to be
mashed. The fresher and less cooked the better, in most
cases. Just remember to thin the seedlings to a few inches
apart, and plant them in loose soil so the roots develop
without being misshapen.