Boy with carrot
Lisa Romerein

Fresh and Fabulous

Homegrown produce is an easy, healthy alternative to store-bought items. Not only are your backyard crops fresher, but you'll also save time (and fuel) by reducing trips to the store. Make gardening a family affair by encouraging children to help plant and pick -- it can be a beneficial learning experience!

And if you're lacking real estate for a full-blown garden, don't worry. Certain herbs and veggies grow extremely well in containers.

Cool season lettuces

Cool-Season Crops

One of Sunset's editors once observed: "Starting a garden is like catching a train. If you’re late, you miss it."

Our chart shows when to plant so you'll be on track for fall and winter harvests. You can start cool-season vegetables from seeds if you sow early enough, or set out transplants later in the season.

Container herb garden
Thomas J. Story

Veggie Container Gardens

Even if you don't have much sunny ground, you can still experience the pleasure of harvesting your own crops. All you need is a generous-size container, good potting soil, and a suitable spot -- a patio, deck, or corner that gets at least six hours of full sun a day.

Raised beds for gardening
Norm Plate

Raised Beds

Raised beds make gardening easy. Filled with soil mix, they provide the excellent drainage needed to grow picture-perfect vegetables. In just five easy steps, you can build this bed in an afternoon.

Growing salad greens
Linda Lamb Peters

Salad Greens

Growing your own salad greens trumps buying grocery lettuce any day. Not only is it easy to do, but it also allows you to experiment with new flavors and different ways to serve. Now in your own backyard, use two new harvest techniques to further expand your culinary options.

Growing tomatoes
Norman A. Plate

Perfect Tomatoes

The best tomatoes for growing in pots are cherry tomatoes. They do well in containers (at least 16 inches deep and wide), and need watering and feeding more often than tomatoes growing in the ground. The bigger the container, the less frequently you'll have to water in hot weather, and the more room roots have to run. A half whiskey or wine barrel is perfect.

Herb garden in a pot
Thomas J. Story

Easy Herb Gardens

This two-tiered container garden holds a selection of basic herbs. Trailers and fillers -- chives, rosemary, and thyme -- tumble over the edges of the bottom pot (about 24 inches wide). Dwarf, purple, and sweet basils grow in the top pot (about 16 inches wide), with thyme filling in around the edges. To keep potted herbs healthy, fertilize and water them regularly.

For more easy ideas for gardening at home, purchase Sunset Books The Edible Garden.

-- From the Editors at Sunset

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