First I decide what my family likes to eat, then I always have new veggies or a certain type I have never grown is the 2nd. I love heirloom veggies of any type. I have about 22 different types of heirloom tomatoes, and now an growing 4 different heirloom beans and have more ordered. I like to try different types of gertain things to see which I like the best and which does best in my area
I tend to stick with the same stuff, but each year I do try something new. I do a lot of canning, so like growing beans as they are easy to can and we like them. I've canned carrots and beets before too, but won't can beets again. They lose too much color in the canning process. I still have canned tomato sauce from last year so thought I was cutting back on only 8 tomato plants this year, but I've had about 5 or 6 pop up in random areas in my garden, probably from my compost.
This year I planted an artichoke plant which I've never done before. And also planted some eggplant, but they are still so small that I'm not sure I'll even get any this year.
Otherwise, my usual stand-bys are:
beans, sugar snap peas, lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, zucchini, cucs, onions, green bell peppers, jalapenos, and then usually a "red" one , like thai or chili peppers. these are for salsa making.
I usually make a decision about what to grow based on what we eat a lot of, what I would like to try, and the expiration date on my seed packets. If something is going to expire this year, we might just wind up eating a lot of it. This doesn't bother me because I can always pass the abundance on to non-gardening friends or trade off with other gardeners who have too much of something else.
Canning is really wonderful, but it's time consuming and not always easy.
Remember your freezer, especially for berries and anything that can be turned into jam.
Rotate beds annually, plant pest warding plants next to one another (broccoli & onions, etc.), start small.
Use Manure/Compost! Mulch, turn and aerate the beds.
Make friends with other gardeners, usually you can trade stuff, and learn from one another.
Try to determine the yield ahead of time, too many of one thing can be a real waste. Had a wonderful crop of acorn squash last year, and even baked in brown sugar couldn't get the kids to eat it. Wasted effort, water, time and garden space. Our guinea pig got about 1/4 of last year's carrot crop, or they'd have gone to seed.
Mostly, have fun. Stick some seeds or plants in the ground and watch what happens. It's the best way to learn.
I choose my crops based on a few criteria: 1. The obvious--what I like to eat, 2. What's pricey at the Farmers' Markets, 3. What can be canned, frozen, pickled, or otherwise stored in quantity that meets the other criteria and 4. Something I've never grown before! The last one can be a lot of fun because I always end up learning something and I might even end up with a new garden standby. This year it's salsify. Can't wait to see if it was worth the space I gave it
We grow what we eat regularly and we grow it in as large of quantities as the garden space allows for. I found this helpful in case something flops, you have a large enough # of plants that all the hard work isn't in vain and you get something even if it is a small amount. I average 5-8 basil plants a season and my husband makes pesto that we freeze...it lasts us until the basil goes into the ground the next year. Canning is great too and helpful for bumper crops.
I also try to grow something new and different. Part because I want to figure out what works well in our garden beds and part to try and have as much and variety in our summer diets. We try our best to eat strictly from the garden once the plants start producing.
Im a little adventurous - Aside from what we normally eat I plant things that look interesting or things that Id like to try. I figure if we don't like it there is someone on my block that will and I give it away.
Hey nukeday, good advice, thanks. Could you please elaborate about pest warding plants? For example you mentioned broccoli & onions, do these plants ward off certain pests &/or do they work together to ward off pests like a pest warding companion planting? I like to use natural pest control methods as much as possible.
When I first started gardening, I planted only things that my husband and I like to eat. Now that we have children, we plant just about anything that we have room for. I noticed that my family has picked-up a healthy eating habit and coming up with creative ways to save money every year. I like to think that our garden has something to do with it. My husband and I are considering adding chickens...we shall see.
I look threw my favorite catalog and mark all I want to plant then from those I decide what I have room for and like to eat best. then I add one maybe two things I haven't tried to grow or eat then order from my favorite catalog. oh and I also look threw the left over seeds to see what I already have that I liked or that grew well and some one else liked in the family. the things that are a constant are asparagus,beets,peas,carrots,green beans,spinach,squash and potatoes. so far the others have been corn,collards and lettuce. have tried turnips,onions,parsnips, tomatoes (don't grow worth a darn in western washington at 600 feet above sea level) need a green house for them. think I may try some artichokes next year and some broccoli and maybe some cauliflower. will also build one more bed raised bed this fall.hope to have a small green house by the end of summer
stick to veggies tested for your climate conditions. ones proven to grow where you live. for instance I can't grow sweet potatoes,or egg plant or okra to save my life because my warm growing season just isn't long enough, but I can grow the heck out of beets,carrots, squash,peas,asparagus,potato's,spinach,lettuce and green beans. corn it can be done with some work, tomato's have to be grown in a green house situation for me. but if it is a cold loving crop it is mine all the way! things like blue berries,strawberries,blackberries grow wild here because they love the wet and cold. I get a bit over run with black berries and blue berries. apples are a hit here so are cherries all grow with little to no care.
I look at what grows well in my area first,then what the family will eat regularly, those get planted first, then I pick some thing new that should grow in my area that we want to try and see if we like it or not.
If we like it and it is an experiment and grows well it gets added to the regular roster of foods we can grow and like to eat. hubby really likes the yin yang bean. I do to they dry nice grow very well on a nice compact bush. this we tried purple pod shelling peas they did awesome way better than the canoe pea,and it is easy to find them on the vine. so they will get added to the roster of great veggies for my garden. if it does just ok and we where kinda eh about it then we try some thing different.