Patty pan summer squash. Shutterstock image.
By Robert Burgess
THBG Senior Communications Manager
In previous posts I’ve talked about how to start seeds indoors. But what if you want to skip that step? Maybe you just want to plant seeds in your existing garden space, or in a new garden bed (or container garden) you’re building this spring. Below are my five favorite small space plants to grow from seed sown right into the soil. These are some of the most dependable plants in my vegetable garden each year. They seem to grow well, and yield lots of tasty stuff to eat, even if I get distracted by life and forget to pay close attention to them.
You can find out which plants to plant when by entering your zipcode into this chart.
Honey nut squash. Shuttertock image.
1) Honey Nut Squash. This is like a dwarf version of butternut squash. The plant itself takes up less space. The fruits are also smaller and more flavorful. My kids like this squash more than any other type. We cut them in half the long way and roast them. Yum.
Sugar baby watermelon. Shutterstock image.
2) Sugar Baby Watermelon. This is one of may family’s favorites. The fruits grow to be about the size of a volleyball and the vines are manageable in a small space. The flesh is red and sweet, especially on a hot summer afternoon. (We also grow small ice box watermelon varieties that are the same size and come in different colors of flesh.)
3) Arugula. This leafy plant is perfect mixed in with lettuce or used on its own for a salad. It has a slight peppery taste to it that gives it a delicious flavor that’s beyond traditional lettuce. We also put it on pizza and make pesto out of it. (Mustard greens another peppery-tasting leafy plant that’s fun to mix in with salad.)
4) Bush Cucumber. Cucumbers can grow on a vine or they can grow as a “bush” plant. This keeps it more compact, which is important if you’re growing your vegetable garden in a small space. Make sure to check which type you’re buying, cucumbers for eating sliced or a variety you want to use to make pickles.
5) Patty Pan Summer Squash. Summer squash and zucchini are good for small garden beds and container gardens. They grow like a bush in that they don’t send vines running around your garden like squash, pumpkins, and watermelon do. Patty Pan is a fun variety that tastes like typical summer squash but grows in a neat flying saucer shape. We eat summer squash raw dipped in hummus or saute it to put on top of pasta. Just make sure to pick the ripe squashes before they get too big and old – the skin gets tougher the longer it’s left on the plant.