Now that spring is here (FINALLY) and the garden is ramping up, you might be thinking about getting started with easy, high-yield spring veggies. These lists usually include things like spinach, lettuce, and kale, all of which are in fact easy and tasty to grow, but who says your garden, and your plates, have to be like everyone else's? We rounded up some fun spring vegetables that don't present a huge challenge to gardeners, yet aren't necessarily grown as often, for you to check out this year.
Orach, also called purple orach, is a spinach relative that has the same spicy, great flavor, but it has bright purple leaves. It looks great in the garden and you can use it in salads and all the same dishes you'd use spinach in. For extra fun, try growing orach microgreens and adding them to salads and main dishes like fish. (Microgreens are just greens that you've sprouted, allowed to grow for a week or so, and then harvested.)
Purple tree collards produce flavorful purple leaves that you can harvest at will. These veggies grow best in areas with a Mediterranean climate, and they make a striking addition to the garden. Better yet, they're perennial, so once you get them going, you won't have to fuss with them anymore. Since they grow from cuttings, you can ask a fellow gardener for a start or pick one up at a nursery.
Arugula has gotten popular in recent years, thanks in no small part to the President's love for this spicy mustard relative. It's super-easy to grow. We recommend planting in waves, spaced about a week or two apart, so that you have a steady supply of it. Like the other easy spring veggies, it's a cinch to grow, although arugula can start to bolt and go bitter very quickly in warm weather.
Bok choy is delicious in stir fries and more, and it's also extremely easy to grow. As with arugula, you can grow it in waves in order to have a steady supply of baby as well as older plants for different cooking projects, providing access to the full range of delicious flavors this tasty plant offers. It can also tend to be a bolter, which is why growing in the cool season of early spring is ideal!
Carrots are also easy growers, and they love spring weather. You don't have to settle for run of the mill orange, either: these roots come in shades ranging from purple to yellow, including carrots designed for fresh raw eating as well as cooking carrots. Get some seedlings started and you'll have lovely additions to salads in no time flat.
Mizuna is a fantastic green with lacy fern-like leaves and contrasting white ribs. It's fantastic in salads, but can be used like other greens in a variety of settings, where its slightly spicy flavor adds a note of sophistication. Be aware that it wilts very quickly after harvesting, so it's best used immediately after picking, or stored in a jar of water to keep it in good condition.
Why not make your spring landscaping a little more fun with these plants, especially since many can be used in edible landscaping as well as serving as delicious, nutritious crops? For extra credit, hire a local Phoenix handyman to help you build some raised beds at different levels to give your garden some added depth and texture.
Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.