Crops you shouldn’t bother starting indoors

There are some crops you shouldn’t bother starting indoors. Instead they should be directly sown in the garden.

Crops you shouldn't bother starting indoors

I will start this post off by saying that there is always an exception to everything I say. If you live in zone 3 or colder you may need to start some of these plants indoors to even have a chance to get a harvest. But if you live in zone 4 or warmer there really isn’t any reason to plant the following plants any where but the garden.

8 Crops you shouldn’t bother starting indoors

First on the list of crops you shouldn’t bother starting indoors is corn.  Both sweet and pop corn do very well when planted directly in the garden. In fact they really don’t transplant all that well. So just wait until your last real danger of frost has past (or maybe 10 days before) and sow your corn directly in the garden.


Beans, especially bush varieties are very quick to mature. Many varieties take only 60 days to start producing. There really isn’t a reason to waste space in your seed starter or green house on starting beans early. Again just wait until the danger of frost has past and sow beans directly in the soil.


Crops you shouldn't bother starting indoors 3

Peas do particularly well when planted directly in the soil. They are super hardy so they can be planted as early as 60 days BEFORE your last frost. Just sow them directly in the soil as soon as it has dried out enough to work the soil. And try planting peas again in summer for a fall crop.

Any root crop

Seedlings of any root crops do not transplant well. Direct sow beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips and radishes directly in the garden throughout the year.


Crops you shouldn't bother starting indoors 4

Regular potatoes (not sweet) are also directly sown in the garden and are never started indoors. Potatoes are frost sensitive so you need to plant them just a couple of weeks before your last frost date.  Also be sure to keep an eye on the weather and cover your plants if there is a threat of frost.


You can start spinach indoors, but spinach has a very long tap root that really doesn’t transplant all that well. Instead I always sow spinach directly in the garden and it does very well.

Others that can go either way

There are several crops that really are on the fence. ?These plants can either be started indoors if you have the space, or just put them on your list of crops you shouldn’t bother starting indoors.

Squash family

Plants in the squash family can be directly sown in the garden or they can be started indoors and transplanted. Squash plants don’t transplant all that well. So if you choose to start them indoors do it only 2 to 3 weeks before you are ready to set them out in the garden. This would include cucumbers, summer squash, winter squash, pumpkins and all melons.

Lettuces and other greens

Crops you shouldn't bother starting indoors

Lettuce and other greens like Swiss chard do well when directly sown in the garden. But the also transplant very well. So if you would like to get an early start by all means start some plants indoors.

I always find spaced limited in my indoor seed starter so planting these crops outdoors leaves me plenty of space for tomatoes, peppers and other goodies that must be started indoors.

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3 tips for extra early lettuce this spring

Lettuce is a staple crop around our place.  The sooner we can have lettuce in the spring the better.  Here are 3 tips for extra early lettuce this spring.

extra early lettuce this spring

There are 3 different methods you can used to get extra early lettuce this spring.  Each involves some planning and will work best if you have some protection from the early spring cold weather.

3 tips for extra early lettuce this spring
1. Start seedlings indoors early

In most parts of the country January is way to cold for planting any seeds outdoors. But in your garage under some lights or a sunny window seal are the perfect spots to get an early start on your lettuce.

Most people don’t think of lettuce as a plant you traditionally start indoors. Lettuce plants actually do very well in a seed starter and they also transplant very well.

extra early lettuce this spring 2

Simply get yourself a few containers. Any thing will do, yogurt cups, newspaper pots, old six packs that your flowers came in, whatever! The important part is that they will hold your potting soil and that they will drain. If you are using a make shift container like a yogurt cup, be sure to poke at least a couple of holes in the bottom and widen those holes enough that excess water can drain out.

2. Build a cold frame or hoop house

Just a little bit of protection will go a long ways to get you an extra early lettuce this spring. Hoop houses or cold frames are a great way to extend your garden season and are fairly inexpensive and easy to make. You can put together a hoop house for around $25 or a cold frame for somewhere around $125 to 150.

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The nice warm protected environment that a hoop house or a cold frame provides will give you the early start that you need for both seedlings or for lettuce planted by seed. The glass or plastic that you use on your cold frame will help to warm the soil up extra early and they also help to keep moisture in so that your seeds can germinate quickly. Or you can put your seedlings that you planted back in January out into a cold frame in March.

Just be sure to watch out for warm days, because the temperature inside of a hoop house or a cold frame can get pretty high if you’re not careful. I’ve had days when it was 55 degrees outside and it was 85 plus in the cold frame. Temperatures that high are not good for your tender lettuce plants they prefer temperatures in the sixties and seventies. So if its going to be a warm day make sure before you leave for work that you open up your cold frame or your hoop house to let in some of the cool spring air.

3. Over winter

The third strategy for getting early lettuce is overwintering plants that you planted the previous fall. Smaller lettuce plants will actually endure the cold temperatures of winter quite well. So if you would like to have lettuce in early spring then get those seeds planted roughly two to three weeks before your first frost in the fall.

extra early lettuce this spring 4

Lettuce seedlings planted that late in the fall will start to grow but won’t get terribly big. You are looking for seedlings that are maybe only 2 or 3 inches tall when you’re 10 hour days arrive in November. If you then protect the seedlings in a hoop house or a cold frame depending on how harsh of winter you have. The harsher the winter the more protection they need. If you live in a zone 6 or below I would recommend using a cold frame to protect the seedlings.

You will peak in on the seedlings during the winter and they look awful. They’ll be wilted and frozen looking but if your protection holds they will spring back and look fantastic as soon as the sunlight returns in the spring. These seedlings will then be ready to eat months sooner than seedlings that you had planted in the spring.

Overwintering is a fun project but it’s a little hit and miss. It really depends on how severe your winter is, some years are over winter is lettuce does fantastic. Other years because of the harsh winter are spring harvest of overwintered crops will be pretty slim. If you live in a warmer climate zone 7 or above this is a perfect way to have an almost continuous harvest of lettuce during the winter and early spring.

I hope these three tips help you to have salads earlier than year than you’ve ever had before.

If you like this post there’s a lot more information out there for you on season extension. A great source in my humble opinion, is my year round garden course.

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This course will have you growing in your garden 365 days a year in almost any climates. It’s a must have for anyone serious about season extension. Follow this link below to learn more and to buy your copy.

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February is Seed Starting Month on Stoney Acres

February is seed starting month on Stoney Acres.  Be sure to check back with us all month as we give you tons of tips on growing your own garden seedlings indoors!

Seed Starting Month #1

February is Seed Starting Month on Stoney Acres

Spring is just around the corner!  Days with 10 hours or more of sunlight are also arriving in your garden again very soon.  So that means it’s time to starting thinking about getting seedlings started indoors, to go out to your garden when the cold weather breaks.

Seed Starting Month

To help you get an early start on your seed starting I’ve decided to dedicate the entire month of February to Indoor Seed Starting.  Here’s what you can look forward to this month on the blog:


– At least once or twice per week I will send out a newsletter to all of my subscribers with a seed starting tip.  I have around 11 different tips for you so expect to see a few more emails from me this month than you might other months.  If you are not already a newsletter subscriber sign up here and you will also get a free video course!!


– All of my 5 Minute Friday Videos will focus on Seed Starting.  Expect a new video each week on a seed starting topic.  I will send out an email when a new video goes live, but if you would like to catch them sooner then either subscribe to my YouTube Channel Here, or Like my Facebook page here.


– If you miss any of the emails or Videos I will be posting links to all the resources on this special Seed Starting Month page on the Blog.


– And for the whole month of February my Seed Starting Simplified Video Course will be on sale for only $15.  This 2.5 hour course will teach you everything you need to know about seed starting.  And in honor of Seed Starting Month I will be creating at least 2 new segments that will be special just for the video course students.  Learn more about the course and buy it for only $15 here.


My hope is that this big focus on Seed Starting will help you learn more and convince you to begin Starting your own garden seedlings indoors this year.  If you have questions as the month goes on please let me know and I’m happy to work on new content to help answer your questions.

Seed Starting Month
Seed Starting Resources:

February Seed Starting Schedule

Seed Starting Basics

Seed Starting Course – The Online Gardening School

Our Indoor Seed Starting Set up

Check back often, I will be adding new resources and updating  a few older posts all month, as I do that I will add them to this page!!

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4 Vegetables to Grow not buy

4 Vegetables to grow not buy. Grow these 4 veggies in your garden and you will never have to buy them from the store again.

4 Vegetables to Grow not buy

Part of the reason we grow a large vegetable garden is to provide as much food for our family as possible. We live on a small city lot, so we will never really be able to provide all of our own vegetables. But there are a few vegetables that we grow and preserve so that we never have to buy them from the grocery store.

Here is our list of 4 vegetables to grow not buy.

The first veggie on our list of vegetables to grow not buy is onions. We have found it pretty easy to grow enough onions to provide all of our families needs, all year long. And the nice thing is that onions really don’t take up a lot of space in the garden. As little as 30 square feet can give us a plot of onions that will last us all winter.

The key to never having to buy another onion lies in the varieties you choose to grow and the timing of the plantings. First choose a long lasting storage onion. We love the variety Copra. When stored in a cool dark spot with temps around 45 to 50 degrees we have been able to keep Copra onions good for up to 10 months. In fact one year recently we ate the last of our stored Copra onions on the day we harvested the new crop.

Vegetables to Grow not buy 2

It also helps if you plant some onions that are specifically meant to be eaten early as green onions. Having some quick growing green onions planted early in the spring will give you some thing to bridge the gap between the last of your stored onions and the first of your new years crop. Over the last 8 years we have only had to buy onions from a store on one occasion.


Garlic is another great crop on the list of vegetables to grow not buy. You do need to change your thinking a bit with garlic. You can grow a great crop of garlic in a fairly small space, but garlic doesn’t store as long as onions. So you may have some time, maybe as long as 3 months where you are without garlic. You can help bridge the gap by growing hard neck garlic that produces scapes. Those will be ready to eat about 4 to 6 weeks before your main crop is ready to harvest.

Vegetables to Grow not buy 3

Growing a mix of hard neck and soft neck garlic will also help. We have found that soft neck garlic lasts a lot longer in storage than hard neck so be sure to grow both.

You can also provide all of your own garlic by preserving it. You can make your own garlic powder or you can pickle garlic to preserve it. These preservation methods along with a good stock of garlic in storage should assure you never have to buy garlic from the store again.

Green Beans

The third crop on our list of vegetables to grow not buy is green beans! It’s really easy to grow a big mess of beans! We love to grow pole beans, they take up very little space and produce like crazy for a long time!

Vegetables to Grow not buy 4

Green beans are of course fantastic fresh from the garden, but they are also perfect for canning and freezing. A spot as small as maybe 4 x 10 feet with a couple of long trellises for the beans to grow up on can provide you will all the beans you need. That way you will never have to buy another can of store bought beans!


The last of our vegetables to grow not buy is tomatoes! We haven’t bought a tomato at the store for over 8 years. (part of that is because we just can’t stand those tasteless store bought tomatoes).

Vegetables to Grow not buy 5

Growing enough tomatoes to never have to buy them from the store again does require dedicating quite a bit of space in your garden. It also means you will need to plan on doing some canning or freezing. If you plant some of your tomatoes extra early using Wall O Waters (Affiliate link) and you learn how to bring in your green tomatoes in the fall and let them ripen indoors, you can have fresh tomatoes for as long as 6 months. You then just fill in the gap by either canning or freezing tomatoes to take you through the winter.

Growing and preserving these 4 veggies will give you a great start on never having to buy vegetables at the store again!!

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The difference between open pollinated and hybrid seeds!

An important concept for every gardener to know is the difference between open pollinated and hybrid seeds!

The difference between open pollinated and hybrid seeds

So what are these two types of seeds?

  • Open pollinated seeds
  • Hybrid seeds.

You will also often hear about heirloom seeds. But heirloom seeds are actually just open pollinated seeds that have been around for a long time. So for purposes of this post I will use the term open pollinated when referring to heirloom seeds as well.

What is the difference between Open Pollinated and Heirloom seeds?

Really there isn’t a difference if all you are concerned about is being able to plant the seeds you harvest next year. Open pollinated and Heirloom seeds work the same. The definition of an Heirloom seed is a little different depending upon which group you talk to. One generally accepted definition is that they are a plant variety that is stable and breeds true to type and has been cultivated for at least 50 years. Other organizations are more stringent in the definition of an Heirloom seed in that they want to see a history (documented if possible) of the seeds being past down from generation to generation.

But my simple definition is Heirlooms are just open pollinated seeds that are older and have been past down from gardeners of the past!

But remember, for purposes of comparing the difference between open pollinated and hybrid seeds. Heirlooms and Open Pollinated seeds are one in the same.

Open pollinated seeds

Let’s start out by talking about open pollinated seeds. Basically an open pollinated seed is a seed that you can plant this year let the plant grow to maturity and then harvest the seeds from that plant. If you then plant the seeds you harvested this year again next year you will get the same plant.

Now that is very simple. There is, of course, more to it than that. Seed saving can actually be a little complicated depending on what plant you are trying to save seeds from. But that is the general concept. If you save seed from an open pollinated plant and there has not been any cross pollination from another plant (of the same family) then you can expect the seed will produce the same plant next year.

Open pollinated plants tend to be older (meaning they have been cultivated for many years) and less tolerant to pests and diseases. But that is not always the case. There are some very good strong open pollinated varieties out there.

The difference between open pollinated and hybrid seeds

Open pollinated plants also tend to be locally adapted. This means that some varieties of plants will do very well in your area.  But if you send me some seeds, that plant may not do well at all in my location. A good place to look for locally adapted plant varieties would be on the website for your local extension agency.

Any good seed company will specify in their catalog or website that a seed is open pollinated. Often you will see an (op) next to the plant name, or they will specify they are an heirloom seed.

Most of the seeds I plant in my garden are open pollinated, this is the case for a few of reasons:
  1. I do save seeds, I’ve been slowly learning how to practice seed saving over the years and it is actually a fun thing to do.
  2. I have a few plants in my garden that were originally given to me as gifts from other gardeners, we fell in love with those varieties, but back in the day I wasn’t very good about keeping track of variety names. A good example is a red lettuce I was given about 10 years ago. This friend gave me some seeds to try but I never got the variety name from him, I just know they were open pollinated. We call the lettuce Larry’s red (named after the guy that gave it to me), but if I want to keep growing Larry’s red I have to save seeds every few years, because I’ve lost track of Larry.
  3. I just like the idea of being able to save my own seeds, I don’t always do it. In fact most years I may only save seeds from one or at the most 2 plants. But there is some comfort for me in knowing if I ever really needed to, I could reproduce seeds to keep my garden going.
Hybrid Seeds

A hybrid seed is a seed that has been bread by a seed producer for a very specific trait. Taste, color, size, resistance to disease, compact plant size and frost tolerance are some of the many traits plant breeders are trying to create.

Hybridization is achieved by cross pollinating two different parent plants to produce an off spring that has those desired traits. So for example, plant breeders cross two different tomatoes to get one of our favorite hybrids, Celebrity. Or plant breeders may cross a red flower and a white flower to get a pink. These are simplified examples but you get the idea.

The difference between open pollinated and hybrid seeds

Hybrids have many advantages in the garden. In particular many hybrids have added resistance to disease or they may produce higher yields.

But nearly all the time those gains also come with a cost. That cost is the inability of hybrids to produce seeds that will grow true to type. Most of the traits bread in to hybrid plants are not “stable” past the first generation of seed.

What does this mean for the home gardener? Well, it means that if you are growing hybrid plants you have to buy new seeds every year. You can’t save the seeds from a hybrid plant. If you do save hybrid seeds and plant them next year you will not get the same plant. Usually the second generation of seeds will revert back to one of the parent plants.

To summarize; the difference between open pollinated and hybrid seeds is the the ability to save seeds.

For some people this really isn’t a big deal, if you are not concerned with saving your own seed then hybrid may often be a fantastic choice. For those of you only interest in growing veggies the difference between open pollinated and hybrid seeds doesn’t really matter.

But for others, being able to save seeds is a big deal. For me seed saving is a fun practice that I am learning more and more about. It’s just another reason why I love gardening.

For others saving seeds is a serious business!! The genetic diversity of our food crops is shrinking. Many regionally adapted varieties are disappearing as more and more farmers and gardeners opt for the hybrid varieties. There are many organizations around the world dedicated to saving these varieties, and lots of gardeners are getting involved.

If you are interested in helping out, the seed savers exchange is a great place to start. You can learn more at this address.

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The difference between open pollinated and hybrid seeds

Succession Planting in your Backyard Garden

Succession planting in your backyard garden is a method you can use to increase the production of even the smallest plots.

Succession Planting

I have a small garden. We live on a small city lot and despite dedicating nearly half our backyard to a garden, it’s still way smaller than i want. Succession planting is a simple method that allows you to get the maximum production from your small garden space.

What is succession planting

The simplest definition of succession planting is; planning your garden is such a way that you are able to always have something growing in every space. This will produce multiple crops throughout the year.

There are three ways to accomplish succession planting. The first is to plant the same crop at different intervals for a prolonged harvest. The second is to plant so that different crops follow each other in the same space. The third is to plant a fast and a slow growing crop in the same space at the same time.

Staggered planting for prolonged harvests

This method of succession planting is not quite as effecient at using space, but it does provide a longer (and sometimes continual) harvest of one crop. Let’s use corn as an example to demonstrate this method of succession planting.

Let’s say you have decided to dedicate a 10 by 20 foot block of your garden to planting corn this year. You could of course plant all of the corn at one time, in the spring. A few months later ALL of your corn will reach maturity at the same time. But what are you going to do with all that corn coming at once???

Succession Planting 2

Staggered succession planting would mean that you take the same patch of ground and divided it into 3 blocks. Plant the first block in the spring, wait 2 or 3 weeks and then plant the second block. Finally after another 2 or 3 weeks you plant the third block. Now each block will mature at different times, just as you finish harvesting the first block, the second is ready to start harvesting and then the third.  Just be sure you time your last planting so that there is still enough warm weather for the crops to mature.

This method of succession planting spreads the harvest of “one time harvest crops” out over a much longer period. This keeps you from being overwhelmed by a huge harvest if your plan is to only eat fresh and not preserve. This method works best with crops that only have one big harvest that is fairly short, so things like corn, potatoes, carrots or head lettuces.

Follow planting

The second method of succession planting is the follow method. This one takes a little more planning but is a much better use of space because there is always something growing in your space.

Let’s use my year round bed as an example for this method. In the fall I plant spinach and carrots in this bed. Those crops are overwintered in a cold frame for harvest all winter and into the early spring. Those crops are finished up about March 15th. Next I plant potatoes in that spot and they are ready in mid June. The potatoes are followed by a late planting of green beans and zucchini, these will be ready to harvest in September. So this bed had something growing in it for almost an entire year!

Succession Planting 3

The key to the follow method is to use a mix of warm and cool season crops and to know the maturity times of each crop. Look at your seed package for the days to maturity. Then plan out a series of crops that can be planted one after another. Often times if you choose the right combination of crops you can have 3 crops a year in the same space. This method works best if you use some type of season extending method.

Fast crop, slow crop method

The third method for succession planting is growing a combination of fast and slow growing crops in the same space at the same time. This method works because both crops are planted at close to the same time. The fast growing crop comes to maturity and is harvested while the slow growing crop is still maturing. The fast growing crop is out of the way long before the slower growing crop needs the space.

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Lettuce is often the perfect crop for using this method. Plant lettuce the same time you plant a longer growing crop like broccoli. The lettuce will be up and harvested in about 45 days, it will be finished just about the time the broccoli takes over the entire space.

Ideas for succession planting

You can of course work out your own plans for succession planting by looking at the maturity times on the back of your seed package. But here are a few ideas you get you started with succession planting.

Staggered planting
  • Corn
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
Follow planting
  • Peas followed by beans followed by lettuce
  • Lettuce followed by any warm season crop
  • Early potatoes followed by shorter maturing warm season crops like beans or zucchini.
  • Broccoli followed by summer crops.
Fast and slow method
  • Beets and tomatoes.
  • Radishes and carrots
  • Lettuce and broccoli/cabbage
  • Lettuce and pretty much any warm season crop, like tomatoes, melons, squash

There are many other combinations out there. Do you have a favorite? Leave it in the comments section and I will add it to the post!!

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5 High Yield Garden Vegetables for your backyard garden

Sometimes you just really want the veggies your grow in your garden to “mean something”. Lettuce and other leafy greens are great, but if you really want your garden produce to mean something to your food supply then you should choose these 5 High Yield Garden Vegetables.

High Yield Garden Vegetables

This post contains affiliate links, clicking on them with not cost you any thing extra, but does allow Stoney Acres to make a small commission on your purchase through the Amazon Affiliate Program!

There are literally hundreds of vegetables that you can grow in your garden, but many of them, though tasty, really don’t have a lot of bulk. So the space you use to grow them really doesn’t produce very much real food value for your family. But some crops really pack a punch, both nutritionally and in shear bulk. Plant these 5 High Yield Garden Vegetables to provide the most food from your small backyard garden.

5 High Yield Garden Vegetables

Packed with nutrition and calories, potatoes are the best high yield garden vegetables you can plant. If you are really concerned about growing the most food you can for your family then potatoes need to be a big part of your garden! Many experts recommend that up to 30% of your garden space should be dedicated to growing potatoes.

High Yield Garden Vegetables 2

Potatoes do take up a pretty good amount of space in your garden, but they will reward you with a great crop that if stored property can last for 6 months or longer. If you put a little thought into the timing of your planting it is possible to start eating fresh garden potatoes in late spring. Succession plantings can take you though the summer. A late spring planting will be harvested in the fall and those can be placed in storage for the winter.


Everyone’s favorite backyard garden crop is Tomatoes. Fortunately tomatoes also make the list of High Yield Garden Vegetables.

Tomato plants can grow quite large and take up a lot of space in your garden. But when grown correctly those big plants will reward you with 100’s of pounds of tomatoes. Depending on the variety you grow, each plant could produce 75 pounds of tomatoes or more. If you are not careful you might find yourself drowning in those yummy garden goodies. Be sure to grow them with a tomato cage or a trellis to keep the fruit off the ground.

High Yield Garden Vegetables 3

The best thing about tomatoes is they are easily preserved. Tomatoes can be canned, frozen or dried. They can be made into soups, salsa, and sauces. Growing them is quit easy, you can learn more from my hour and a half long course on growing tomatoes on our sister site, The Online Gardening School.

Green Beans

Adding green beans to your family garden will give you another high yield garden vegetable that is easy to care for. The most productive variety of green beans to grow are pole beans. Pole beans require a trellis to grow well, but growing beans on a trellis has the added advantage of saving space in your garden. Any time you can raise a crop that grows up and not out you will have more room for other crops below!!

High Yield Garden Vegetables 4

A 10 foot trellis covered with green beans will yield many pounds of beans which can be preserved by either canning or freezing. A trellis for green beans doesn’t need to be complicated, it can be a simple as some trellis netting strung between 2 poles.


Both summer squash and winter squash are a great addition to your garden and both are a high yield garden vegetable! Summer squashes like Zucchini, Patty Pan and Yellow crook neck produce like crazy! Your summer menu will be filled with these goodies. The plants are large but very productive paying you back well for the space they take up. The only disadvantage of summer squashes is they are hard to preserve. They can be frozen or pickled, but those are really your only options for preservation.

High Yield Garden Vegetables 5

Winter squash is an even bigger space commitment, plants like pumpkins, butternut, spaghetti and acorns squash take up a lot of garden space. But the plants reward you with a heavy harvest of nutrient and calorie dense fruit. And the great thing about winter squashes is they can be stored without any processing at all. Simply store them somewhere with temperatures right around 50 degrees and they will last for several months!


The last veggie on our list of high yield garden vegetables is cucumbers. Cucumbers provide a lot of harvest from a small space. Like beans, cucumbers should be grown on a trellis. Many years our short 6 foot row of cucumbers grown on this simple trellis will produce between 75 to 100 pounds of produce. That gives us plenty of cukes for fresh eating all summer and fall and also gives us a good supply to pickle and eat over the winter.

High Yield Garden Vegetables 6

Choosing to plant these 5 high yield garden vegetables in your backyard garden will mean hundreds of pounds of fresh garden produce to feed your family all summer and into the winter months.

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