A Homegrown Salad
Given that we had a late start for spring weather this year, there’s still time to develop a plan for that backyard garden. With its rich soil and history of agriculture, the South Fork is the perfect place to dive into the task of homegrown food. But what are the best vegetables to plant on this fork? And, better yet, when should you plant them? Here are some of the best performers, and some information about how they do best.
Perhaps the most satisfying thing about lettuce is that it has a really long season. You can enjoy the fruits of your gardening labor early in the spring, when little else is green. But you’ll almost certainly be getting lettuce returns late in the season, too. That means that a little work goes a long way. Lettuce can be planted as soon as the ground is soft. These productive plants prefer full sun.
The great thing about peppers is the sheer variety. You can plant anything from sweet bell peppers to fiery habaneros (as well as all the varieties in between). Hot peppers can be dried and saved for use in the colder months, too, which makes them a particularly useful addition to the home garden. Plants can be placed in the ground after the final frost date. You’ll want to put them in a sunny, well-drained location.
Although these plants are not necessarily high-yield the way, say, squash are, they provide a vegetable with tons of great uses. Harvest your eggplant and turn it into a party-friendly caponata, a weeknight eggplant parm, or a grilled dish to accompany your favorite charred cut of meat. These hardy plants can grow both in container and in the ground. They prefer full sun.
Although heirloom tomatoes can be fickle, the reward is definitely worth the risk. And, in a good year, a tomato harvest can yield enough to preserve and set aside for the long, cold winter. With that in mind, planting tomatoes is a must on the South Fork. If you’re looking for a type of tomato that’s sure to perform, think cherry tomatoes and sungolds, both of which are nearly indestructible. Plant full plants in the ground in an area with good sun exposure.
Another flexible vegetable, this member of the squash family does need a fair amount of space to thrive. But if you have a large yard or garden bed, cucumbers — which can be turned into long-lasting pickles — bring a lot to the table for minimal work. Because they are particularly prone to damage from frost, you’ll want to wait a few weeks after the frost date to plant these. They also prefer full sun.
The South Fork was once potato country, so it makes sense that the land is hospitable to these tubers. You can plant them right after the frost date. They do particularly well in cool, sandy soil. Just don’t forget to dig them up!