Backyard Produce Department

Whether you have a small container or a large bed, the experts at Sunset can show you how easy it is to grow vegetables and herbs.

Fresh and Fabulous
Homegrown produce is an easy, healthy alternative to store-bought items. Not only are your backyard crops fresher, but you'll also save time (and fuel) by reducing trips to the store. Make gardening a family affair by encouraging children to help plant and pick -- it can be a beneficial learning experience!

And if you're lacking real estate for a full-blown garden, don't worry. Certain herbs and veggies grow extremely well in containers.

Cool-Season Crops
One of Sunset's editors once observed: "Starting a garden is like catching a train. If you're late, you miss it."

Our chart shows when to plant so you'll be on track for fall and winter harvests. You can start cool-season vegetables from seeds if you sow early enough, or set out transplants later in the season.

Learn how to start your veggies.

Veggie Container Gardens
Even if you don't have much sunny ground, you can still experience the pleasure of harvesting your own crops. All you need is a generous-size container, good potting soil, and a suitable spot -- a patio, deck, or corner that gets at least six hours of full sun a day.

What are the best crops for pots?

Raised Beds
Raised beds make gardening easy. Filled with soil mix, they provide the excellent drainage needed to grow picture-perfect vegetables. In just five easy steps, you can build this bed in an afternoon.

Build a planter for herbs.

Salad Greens
Growing your own salad greens trumps buying grocery lettuce any day. Not only is it easy to do, but it also allows you to experiment with new flavors and different ways to serve. Now in your own backyard, use two new harvest techniques to further expand your culinary options.

Perfect Tomatoes
What types are best for growing in containers? Do potted tomatoes need special care?

The best tomatoes for growing in pots are cherry tomatoes. They do well in containers (at least 16 inches deep and wide), and need watering and feeding more often than tomatoes growing in the ground. The bigger the container, the less frequently you'll have to water in hot weather, and the more room roots have to run. A half whiskey or wine barrel is perfect.

Check out answers to other common questions.

Easy Herb Gardens
This two-tiered container garden holds a selection of basic herbs. Trailers and fillers -- chives, rosemary, and thyme -- tumble over the edges of the bottom pot (about 24 inches wide). Dwarf, purple, and sweet basils grow in the top pot (about 16 inches wide), with thyme filling in around the edges. To keep potted herbs healthy, fertilize and water them regularly.

For more easy ideas for gardening at home, purchase Sunset Books The Edible Garden.

Related Life123 Articles

Starting a vegetable garden is a way to save on food costs while providing your family with food that not only tastes better, but is much more nutritious than food that is shipped long distances.

Harvesting vegetables to attain the maximum output isn't always the way to get the most out of your harvest.

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A fall vegetable garden is a chance to renovate your garden, or even to start a garden if you didn't have one during spring or summer.

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