By Madeline Rudin

Published on June 5, 2015

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Maximize on flavor and minimize on groceries by adopting a homegrown approach to produce.  From a country garden box to a city balcony, there’s no shortage of edible options to grow on your mini farm.  Read on for our list of easy small garden essentials that’ll have you going out to eat without leaving your backyard.

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BELL PEPPER
WHY: Bell pepper plants are largely pest resistant and thrive in the summer heat, producing as many as 5-8 peppers per plant.
TIPS:  Plant only one seedling per pot or square foot for the best results.  If you find that your plant is producing only a few peppers at a time, kick things into overdrive by picking the first few peppers before they are fully ripe.   Your plant will overcompensate for the lost peppers by boosting production.

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TOMATO
WHY: Arguably the most practical vegetable for your garden, there are nearly 7,500 varieties of tomatoes from which to choose and just one plant will produce an abundance of product all summer long. 
TIPS: Depending on your climate and conditions, ask your local farmers market which strain is right for you—keeping tomato size and sweetness in mind.  Whether your garden is a raised-bed or a container, direct sunlight will help your tomato vine sprout in as little two days.

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BASIL
WHY: Fragrant, tasty and all-purpose, as the Italian saying goes “where salt is good, so is basil.”
TIPS:  Pick the leaves often to encourage growth and clip flower heads as soon as they begin to sprout.  Basil is most flavorful when it’s fresh but, if your plant is growing quickly, try drying or freezing your basil leaves to preserve their zest.

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POLE BEAN (Green Bean)
WHY: This vine plant is surprisingly low maintenance and enjoys an extra long harvest, producing new vegetables week after week.
TIPS:  Conserve space in your garden by placing a tepee or small lattice into the green bean bed or container to assist vertical growth.  The plants vines will naturally attach to the structure and continue to bloom skyward.

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CHIVE
WHY:  Though this prolific plant prefers the cool spring weather, if grown in partial shade, chives can continue to flourish throughout the summer with a robust rebirth year after year.
TIPS:  As summer comes to a close, pot a few of your chive plants and place them near sunlight indoors for continued growth throughout the chilly months.