Before getting started on your vegetable garden this spring, there are a few things you will want to consider. In central and eastern Maryland, growers can generally plan for a May 1 planting date (last frost) and harvests continuing up until about Oct. 10 (first frost). When choosing a crop, first weigh the pros and cons of your garden’s space requirements as well as which produce you and your family are most interested in eating.

1. Tomatoes
Although technically a fruit, this crop masquerades as the number one vegetable that people love to grow. Tomatoes are extremely popular because of their great adaptability to average garden soil, disease-resistance, high nutritional benefits and versatility. Cultivars range from producing in early to mid or late-season, so a good rule of thumb is the bigger the fruit, the longer it will take to mature. City gardeners with limited space should consider cherry tomatoes. Tomatoes also grow very well in containers, from 12 inch up to 3 gallon pots. By the first week in July, most growers will be picking their first tomatoes. Average tomato yield for a 100 foot seeded row is at least 200 pounds of fruit.    

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2. Peppers
One of the easiest and most successful producing vegetables, peppers are also great in nutritional content and perfect for Maryland’s growing season. Gardeners can expect fruit by mid-July when planted in May. Two or three plants can supply the average family with a hearty supply of peppers all season long. Both tomatoes and peppers require more space per plant than other vegetables, approximately 18 to 24 inches per plant or more for the bigger varieties. The yield for a 100 inch seeded row of peppers is 75 pounds or more.

3. Lettuce or Spinach
Excellent for planting in the ground or window boxes, this crop is easy to plant seeds early in the season with repetitive sowings possible to extend harvest. A great cold-tolerance plant, it’s best to avoid planting during the middle of summer. However gardeners can sow as early as March depending on the winter. Lettuce grows rapidly and generates harvest in as little as 35 to 45 days. Plus, since it tolerates some frost, it may continue to produce as late as November. The yield of a 100 inch seeded row is 50 pounds of produce.

4. Beans
Bean plants have an extra benefit in that they deposit nitrogen into the ground, which improves the quality of the soil. Easy to grow and very tolerate of Maryland’s soil conditions, beans can be sowed directly into the garden after hard frost has passed. Beans form best in 75 to 85 degree weather. They will mature in 60 days. Beans can also be planted every couple of weeks for a regular supply. It is best to stop planting 60 days before first frost. Average yield for a 100 inch seeded row is 50 pounds with pole breeds providing heavier yield than bush beans.

5. Beets
A perfect hot, dry weather crop that’s also extremely easy to grow, beets supply families with lots of vitamin A, plus deliver a produce bonus because the greens tops are delicious in summer salads. Whether baby beets or large-sized, the trick is to check whether the beet is early or late-season producing. Beets do not attract a lot of insects or diseases, require very little garden space, are easy to store, and yield 100 pounds of produce for a 100 inch seeded row.

*This article would not have been possible without the expertise of horticulturist Joanne Lutz, who has been serving local and nationwide growers for over 30 years. Ms. Lutz is presently a technical support specialist at Griffin Grower Services (GGSPro), which provides year-round support to growers from Maine to Georgia.

These local businesses should be able to help you get started: 

Behnke Nurseries
Beltsville Store –
11300 Baltimore Avenue
Beltsville, Md. 20705
(301) 937-1100

Hours: Mon thru Sun – 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Click here for a calendar of events.

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Located in Beltsville and Potomac, Behnke’s offers local gardeners a large, practical selection of top quality plants for every season.

Valley View Farms
11035 York Road
Cockeysville/Hunt Valley, Md. 21030
(410) 527-0700

Hours: Sun to Thurs – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fri and Sat – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Click here for a calendar of events.

Grown from a small roadside produce stand to one of the largest garden centers in the mid-Atlantic region, Valley View Farms provides growers with the largest selection of vegetables as well as flowering annual and perennial plants every spring.

Radebaugh Florist & Greenhouses
120 East Burke Avenue
Towson, Md. 21286
(410) 825-4300

Store Hours: Mon to Sat – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun-Closed

Radebaugh Florist & Greenhouses has been serving the greater Baltimore area since 1924 with high-quality plants, flowers and gifts.

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For more great tricks, tips and advice about your home, visit CBSBaltimore/YourHome.

Keri Ann Beazell is a life-long animal lover and long-time communicator for a variety of species. As an admirer of natural wonders and believer in most things good, she enjoys promoting discussions, education, new ideas and smiles among readers.

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