The Best Vegetables to Grow in a Community Garden Plot

best vegetables to grow in a community garden

Growing food in a community garden plot is a very unique style of gardening with great benefits and some tough challenges that home gardeners don’t experience.

The benefits: meeting kind and generous people from all over the world who share a love of gardening and learning from each of them by watching what they grow and how they set up their gardens.

The challenges: the far distance from your house which often limits how frequently you can visit your garden, and the difficulty of managing your garden from afar.

If you’re not careful, these challenges can make community garden plots feel more like a burden than a joy.

But, don’t worry! A lot of the hardship can be avoided if you pick the right vegetables for growing in a community garden.

I’ve grown food at several different community gardens here in Madison, WI over a ten year period, and had a home garden at the same time during many of those years.

I learned a lot about what vegetables work best in a community garden setting, and which ones to leave off the list each season.

Here are some special considerations when deciding which vegetables to grow in your community garden.

planting kale in a community garden plot

What to Plant in a Community Garden

High Maintenance vs. Low Maintenace Vegetables. The number one thing to know is that some vegetable plants require much more constant attention than others. For example, a kale seedling gets planted in early spring and basically hangs out in the garden until winter when it gets killed by heavy frosts if you live in a cold climate.

During those months in between, there’s not much you need to do except keep the plants watered and harvest kale leaves whenever you want to take some home for dinner.

That’s what I call a low maintenance vegetable!

In contrast, bush green beans are more high maintenance. Once they starting producing beans, you need to pick those babies every other day because they grow quickly.

If you don’t, you’ll end up with buckets of beans that are too big and too tough to be delicious. They need constant attention during the weeks they’re being harvested.

So, why do these two categories matter?

Most people who tend community gardens aren’t able to visit their plots every day. This makes growing vegetables that need daily attention problematic and often leads to frustration.

If this is true for you, then you should choose vegetables that can hang out in the garden on their own as much as possible – the low maintenance vegetables.

garlic is a top plant for a community garden plot

Top Vegetables Recommended for Community Gardens

These low maintenance plants are great for growing in your community garden because the ripe fruit (or vegetable!) can chill out in your plot for a bit when it’s ready.

Basil

Beets

Cabbage

Eggplant

Garlic

Kale

Leeks

Onions

Parsley

Peppers, Sweet and Hot

Potatoes

Swiss Chard

Tomatoes

view of top plants to grow in a community garden plot

My community garden plot. Lots of onions and garlic!

When you’re planning out what to grow in your community garden plot this year, think strategically about the vegetables and focus on the ones that can be tended from afar.

That way, if you get busy in summer and can’t visit for a while you won’t waste food or be disappointed that you missed out on a certain vegetable.

When looking at the above list there are also other characteristics to consider about each vegetable besides whether it’s low maintenance or not – like how long you can expect to harvest food, how long you have to wait for a vegetable to grow, and how big the plant gets.

gardening planning book

I cover all of this and more in my Smart Start Garden Planner. It’s a fresh and simple approach to planning your garden. The workbook keeps planning practical, down-to-earth, and fun! Get your copy here.

 

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