Let's start from A to Z to decide what vegetables your family will enjoy eating from your home garden.

Cancer Fighting FoodsCredit: megettingfit.com

Asparagus – Asparagus is a lifetime investment that will produce successive crops of spears for 6 to 10 weeks, on a yearly basis.  Spears are an excellent source of folate, which your body needs to make blood cells.  The spears are harvested in the spring.  This plant is hardy and can be grown in all areas of the United States.

Bush Beans – A variety of green beans that grow upright and do not require staking.  If picked on a daily basis, they will provide food for the table for 2 to 3 weeks. 

Pole Beans – The tall vines of pole beans require support, such as a tower or trellis.  One a square-foot basis, pole beans are more productive than bush beans, making them excellent for small gardens.  They also have a rich flavor.

Lima Beans – Lima beans prefer warm to hot growing conditions.  Plant them in well-drained soil after the soil has warmed and all danger of frost has passed.  Harvest when the pods become plump; eat the meaty seeds either fresh or dried.

Shell Beans – Shell beans include dark red kidney beans and pinto beans.  The shelled beans of these varieties are rich in flavor and nutrients such as folate (needed for healthy blood and immune system).  Add the cooked beans to soups and salads; puree or bake.  Dry beans keep easily in lidded jars.

Broccoli – A nutritional powerhouse, broccoli belongs in everyone’s garden!  Besides being delicious and easy to grow, broccoli is a wonderful addition to a healthy diet as it is chock full of vitamins C and A, as well as compounds that helps reduce the risk of cancer. 

Brussels Sprouts – If you have never grown Brussels sprouts before, you are in for a treat!  Garden-grown sprouts are sweet, delicious, and far superior to supermarket types.  For peak flavor, harvest after the first frost.

Cabbage – The sweet, crunchy leaves of cabbage are an excellent source of vitamin C.  Like its brassica relatives; broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, cabbage contains compounds believed to reduce the risk of cancer.  Use cabbage raw in coleslaw or salads.  Cook it, stuff it, or make sauerkraut.  For a longer harvest, plant several varieties.

Carrots – For a tasty, nutritious snack, it’s hard to beat carrots.  Carrots are rich in vitamin A, needed for healthy eyes, skin and the immune system.  Plus, carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, which helps reduce the risk of cancer.  Shorter, blocky types yield more pounds per row and are recommended for canning, juicing and storing.  Slender varieties are excellent for eating fresh.  For continuous crops, seed every two weeks early spring through midsummer.

Sweet Corn – Everyone loves the fresh, crisp, delicious taste of sweet corn!   There are many different varieties of hybrids that have different textures and flavor.  All hybrid corn varieties should be isolated from field corn, popcorn and ornamental corn.

Cucumbers – Chose a slicing cucumber with a mild flavor for summer salads.  They tend to be thinner than pickling types.  Many are “burpless,” meaning they lack the compounds that cause indigestion.  Harvest blocky, pickling cucumbers when they are 4 to 5 inches long for pickles.  Smaller for gherkins.

Eggplant – A common ingredient in Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, eggplant grows best in warm conditions.  Cook the firm-textured fruits with tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, onions and garlic to make a ratatouille, a classic summertime side dish!

Lettuce – Sensational salads start with lettuce!  For the most interesting and tasty salads, mix lettuces of different types, colors, and textures.  Leaf lettuce is popular with gardeners because the leaves reach eating size very quickly.  Most are “cut-and-come-again” types.  Head lettuce is the longtime favorite for salads.  Both are easy to grow in most types of soils.  Plant at 2 to 3 week intervals for a continuous supply.  Provide needed shade by planting lettuce among your taller vegetables.

Okra – These tasty pods are great for gumbo and stew.  Okra is a native to Africa and does best in hot conditions.  Harvest the pods when they are young and tender.

Onions – Savory or sweet, onions are always a treat.  It’s hard to imagine a day without onions, an essential ingredient in many salads, soups and stews.  Besides being packed with flavor, onions contain compounds that reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.  Note:  Day length and temperatures can affect bulbing and size. 

Peas – Green peas are fun to grow, fun to pick, fun to pod, and fun to eat!

Potatoes – Nothing beats a garden grown potato!  Baked, boiled, mashed or fried, potatoes are everyone’s favorite comfort food.  Plus, they are so much fun to grow!  Unearthing homegrown spuds is like finding buried treasure!  They come in many different varieties and colors.

Sweet Potatoes – An easy to grow vegetable, with rich flavor, creamy texture and lots of vision-enhancing vitamin A, sweet potatoes belong I everyone’s kitchen and garden. 

Pumpkins – Easy and fun to grow, pumpkins are a great way to interest kids in gardening.  They are also a fall favorite for making pies!

Radishes – One of the easiest crops you can grow.  It’s no wonder that radishes often are the first crop that children grow!  Simply sow the seeds, and then pull out the colorful, crunchy roots a month later.  For mildest flavor, grow in the cool weather of spring or fall.

Sweet Peppers – A super source of vitamin C.  Maybe you already love peppers for their versatility but did you know they are very good for you?  A single green pepper contains nearly all the vitamin C you need for the day.  A ripe red one has even more!  Grow a mix to add flavor, color and good health to your meals.

Squash – Save space in your garden for squash!  Fast-growing summer squash bears big crops, even in small gardens. Steam, stuff, bake or use raw in salads.  Winter squash is easy to store and nutritious.  Harvest when the skins cannot be pierced with a fingernail.  Deep orange flesh contains cancer-fighting beta-carotene.  Rich and delicious when baked, versatile squash can also be canned or eaten fresh.

Tomatoes – America’s favorite ”fruit.”  Nothing compares to vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh from the garden!  Easy to grow; choose from many different varieties and size and even colors!

Watermelon – What would a summer picnic be without watermelon?  Sweet, crisp and juicy, watermelons are nature’s perfect dessert.  All watermelon varieties have similar nutritional content.  They are 90 to 95 percent water, low in calories, and contain no cholesterol!  Sugar content or sweetness ranges between 12 to 15 percent.  How can you resist growing some of these?  A special bonus in watermelon:  They contain cancer-fighting antioxidants.