Homegrown vegetables and herbs bring fresh flavors to summertime meals. Got a late start on your garden this year? Many of the following easy-to-grow varieties can be sown throughout the growing season. You can enjoy these herbs and vegetables freshly picked from the garden or cook them up using some of our recipes. Either way you know you'll be getting an abundance of nutrients to keep you happy and healthy.
Why we love them: Green beans are a healthy summer favorite, both for their fresh crunch and flavor. They also add a bright shot of green to your dinner plate.
What you get: Green beans provide a bounty of nutrients: vitamins A, C and K, manganese, potassium, folate and iron, as well as fiber.
In your garden: Plant your bean seeds in well-drained soil where they'll receive full sun. Sow seeds every few weeks to enjoy a continual harvest through the summer.
Use bush beans in these recipes:
Quick Chile Dilly Beans
Green Beans with Creamy Garlic Dressing
Summer Vegetable Crˆpes
Lamb Chops with Lebanese Green Beans
Orange-Scented Green Beans with Toasted Almonds
Fresh Recipes for Green Beans
Green Beans Healthy Food Guide
Beets are an earthy, sweet treat. And don't forget to eat the beet greens too-baby ones are delicious raw in a salad; cook more mature ones as you would chard or kale.
What you get: 1/2 cup of cooked beets has a mere 29 calories but boasts 2 grams of fiber and provides 19 percent of the daily value for folate, a B vitamin needed for the growth of healthy new cells. Beets' beautiful color comes from betanin, a phytochemical that's thought to bolster immunity.
In your garden: You can plant your beets as soon as your soil can be worked in the spring.
Why we love them: Carrots are a perennial favorite-delicious raw or cooked, and they can be prepared in a variety of ways.
What you get: The pigment that makes carrots orange-beta carotene-is the same compound the body converts to vitamin A, a vitamin essential for vision, healthy skin and the immune system.
In your garden: Plant carrots as soon as the soil can be worked. They thrive in fertile sandy loam.
Why we love them: Cucumbers are a tasty addition to salads, add crunch to your crudit‚s plate and even taste good cooked.
What you get: While the cucumber isn't known as a nutrition powerhouse, it does provide refreshment: at 95 percent water content, a cup of cucumber slices is nearly as thirst-quenching as a glass of water.
In your garden: Give your cucumber plants generous amounts of organic matter and good fertilization and they will respond with lots of crunchy cucumbers; harvest them regularly to increase production.
Use cucumbers in these recipes:
Seared Scallops with Saut‚ed Cucumbers
Creamy Cucumber Soup
Cucumber & Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Cucumbers Healthy Food Guide
Healthy Cucumber Recipes and Cooking Tips
Why we love them: Lettuce is easy to grow, making it a great choice for container gardening. This mix of greens tastes great in a salad or on a sandwich.
What you get: Although nutrients differ with each variety of lettuce, leafy greens are a great start to any meal, supplying vitamins A, C, K and folate.
In your garden: Lettuce thrives in cooler weather so plant it in the spring and fall, sowing every few weeks for a continuous harvest.
Use gourmet lettuce mix in these recipes:
Sauteed Mushroom Salad
Chicken & Fruit Salad
Raspberry, Avocado & Mango Salad
Grilled Smoky Eggplant Salad
Salad Greens Healthy Food Guide
Healthy Salad Recipes and Cooking Tips
7 Simple Salads
Fresh Spring Dinner Salads
Why we love them: These sweet peas with edible pods make a great snack on their own, and are just as welcome cooked up into a satisfying side dish.
What you get: With one-third of your daily value of vitamin C and 3 grams of fiber in every cup, these vegetables are a healthy choice.
In your garden: Snap peas are hardy legumes that germinate in soil temperatures as low as 40øF, but don't do so well in hot and dry weather. Plant your peas so that they can mature as early as your planting schedule allows and sow more seeds when cooler fall days return.
Use snap peas in these recipes:
Lemon-Mint Snap Peas & Lima Beans
Sesame-Maple Roasted Tofu
Sugar Snap Pea & Shrimp Curry
Cashew-Snow Pea Stir-Fry
Snap Peas Healthy Food Guide
Sugar snap peas 5 ways
Healthy Pea Recipes and Cooking Tips
Why we love them: These spicy, crunchy globes are packed with flavor. And radishes are more versatile than you may think: add them to a salad or temper their heat by cooking them in your favorite veggie stir-fry.
What you get: Bonus! One radish has just 1 calorie.
In your garden: Even if you don't have a green thumb, radishes are easy to grow in containers and gardens; spring radish varieties are often ready in just three weeks and are more mild in flavor-hotter summer soil produces spicier radishes.
Why we love them: Peppery and spicy mustard greens, like mizuna and pac choi, add great zing to salads. Try them when your recipe calls for Asian salad mix.
What you get: Dark leafy greens are particularly rich in vitamins A, C and K. Mustard greens are also an excellent source of folate, important for women of child-bearing age.
In your garden: You can sow salad greens in your garden from early spring to midsummer.
Use mild mustard salad mix in these recipes:
Five-Spice Chicken & Orange Salad
Spicy Green Salad with Soy & Roasted Garlic Dressing
Seared Steak Salad with Edamame & Cilantro
Claire's Mixed Green Salad with Feta Vinaigrette
Couscous, Lentil & Arugula Salad with Garlic-Dijon Vinaigrette
Why we love it: No other herb epitomizes the taste of summer like basil. Whirl up a batch of pesto or sprinkle basil on your favorite pasta dish.
In your garden: Plant basil in rich, moist soil where it can enjoy full sun. Sow your basil every few weeks for continual harvest.
Why we love it: With both the leaves and seeds used for seasoning, dill is a very versatile herb. The leaves are soft and sweet, whereas the seeds have a sweet and citrusy taste that is slightly bitter.
In your garden: The herb can be used both fresh and dried. Plant your dill seeds in warmer temperatures: it thrives in soil around 75 to 80øF.
Why we love it: Cilantro is a flavorful herb prominent in Mexican and Southeast Asian cookery. Try it as an alternative to basil in pesto to top fish or stir it into your favorite salsa recipe. The stems are as flavorful as the leaves-just discard any that are tough.
In your garden: Plant cilantro early in the season and sow seeds regularly for a continued harvest.
Use cilantro in these recipes:
Steak & Potato Kebabs with Creamy Cilantro Sauce
Grilled Chicken Tenders with Cilantro Pesto
Chilled Tomato Soup with Cilantro-Yogurt Swirl
Vegetarian Taco Salad
Why we love it: Often parsley is used as a garnish, leaving its delicious flavor underappreciated. Not only does it have a great aromatic quality, but parsley also contains vitamins A and C.
In your garden: Plant parsley in fertile soil with good amounts of organic matter and moisture.
Why we love it: Best known as a background flavoring for stews and soups, thyme is one of the most versatile herbs. Although typically paired with savory robust foods, such as red meat, poultry and root vegetables, it is also good with apples and pears.
In your garden: Grow thyme in an area that will receive full sunlight.