Three different types of onions are grown in home gardens from seed or small bulbs known as onion sets. Long day varieties such as Walla Wall and Sweet Spanish grow best in colder areas and need 14 to 16 hours of sunlight. Short day varieties like Sweet Red and Texas Sweet White grow in warmer, Southern climates and need 10 to 12 hours of sun. Day neutral grow in most climates and need 12 to 14 hours of sunlight.
Herb gardens are a great introduction to gardening, and a convenient way to have a supply of fresh herbs on hand. Some of the best plants to start with are basil, thyme, rosemary, chives, mint, dill, oregano, and cilantro. They are all relatively easy to grow as long as they receive plenty of sunlight and are harvested regularly.
Carrots are typically grown in home gardens are an annual plant, but they are technically biennials, needing two years to complete their life cycle. The first year they produce green leafy tops and the brightly colored fleshy roots we harvest. If plants are left in the ground over the winter they produce seeds the second growing season, and then perish.
Due to their long growing season, tomatoes are usually planted indoors and then juvenile plants are transplanted to the garden. When the transplants have a strong sturdy stem, and the chance of spring frost has passed they can be moved to the garden. Acclimate plants to outdoor temperatures for about a week and then transplant them in the garden into holes twice the size of their root ball.
One of the easiest ways to figure out what type of mint is growing in your garden is to look at the flowers. Spearmint flowers grow in spikes of pink or white. Peppermint has purple flowers about one-quarter inch in length that form on thick spikes protruding from the stems. Apple mint forms long spikes that grow up to 4-inches, displaying white or pike flowers.
Watermelon plants grow in very distinct stages in the garden, each with unique characteristics and needs. Seeds germinate within about a week of planting, and sprouts push through the soil surface. Vegetative growth occurs to develop a main vine with several small vines sprouting from it. Male and female flowers appear on the vines, and then, if fertilized fruits develop. The whole process takes about three months.
Hitting the peak ripeness is important when harvesting strawberries. The best time to pick them is when berries are completely red and firm to the touch. Berries with white spots will lack flavor and sweetness. Dark berries are overripe and go badly quickly. To harvest, grab the flowering stalk behind the fruit and pull.
Garlic is planted in late summer or early fall, and then harvested about 9 months later. After the cloves germinate they develop several long green leaves, and then small curled tendrils known as scapes. After the scapes form the bulbs begin to develop and grow, until they are large enough to harvest.
Strawberries are typically planted as rootstock or bare roots, rather than seeds, as soon as the threat of spring frost is passed. Young plants are tender and susceptible to cold weather. Choose either June bearing varieties which fruit heavily in June, or everbearing that produce fruit in small batch throughout the entire summer.