5 tips for growing a garden that fights hunger

Small vegetable plant growing in a garden.
March 16, 2022
by Abbie Wilson

Did you take up gardening as a hobby during the past couple years? Whether you’ve got a seasoned green thumb or are just digging in, you’ve probably found yourself with more produce than you can use. Don’t let that perfectly healthy produce go to waste! Instead, swap or gift produce with friends or join many generous gardeners donating their excess produce to their local food pantry.  

If you’re a gardener who’d like to help feed your neighbors, here are five vegetables that are easy to grow! 

1. Tomatoes 

Tomatoes are so versatile—they can be eaten raw in a salad, cooked in a vegetable bake, or pureed into a sauce to top pasta. There are a ton of varieties and they produce a steady supply of fruit. They aren’t as fast growing as some produce fast growing so you’ll have to wait about 80 days before being able to harvest. However, you can expect to harvest about 10 to 15 pounds of fruit per plant.  

2. Lettuces, Salad Mixes 

Many types of lettuces are a great option for fresh salads all summer long. If you are looking for the fastest producing mixes, choose those containing only leaf lettuce. Salad mixes are ready to harvest in about one month and can be harvested multiple times from one seeding. 

3. Peppers 

Peppers grow well in containers and beds making them great garden additions, just be sure you support the stalk once the plants start forming fruit as they can be top heavy. Like tomatoes, peppers have such variety, yield is hard to generalize. That said, a single plant can turn out 3-4 pounds of peppers. Whether you love a little spice or tend eat more mild flavors, there’s a pepper out there for you!  

4. Cucumbers 

Cucumbers are popular and produce in abundance. Vining cucumber variations produce the most while bush cucumbers tend to produce slightly less fruit. Three to four vines can easily provide 10 pounds of cucumbers and are ready to pick in 50 to 60 days. Just be sure you have adequate space as cucumbers are notoriously fast growers so consider a cage or trellis to use your vertical space. 

5. Peas 

If you are in a cooler area or want to start earlier in the growing season, peas might be your new favorite garden veggie! Peas prefer chillier temperatures so planting as soon as the ground can be worked and harvest before it is too hot. Most pea varieties typically take 60 to 70 days to be ready for harvesting. 

Your excess produce is too precious to go to waste! Prevent food waste and feed your neighbors facing hunger by donating your extras to your local pantry. Most food pantries have specific drop-off days and times so be sure to find out when they are available to receive donations. Please only donate food that is high enough quality that you would eat.  

Your bounty, large or small, can help a family eat a well-balanced dinner. Happy gardening!