vegetables that dont need good soil

werewasgawOctober 3, 2011

What are the vegetables that will grow in the worst of bad soil? I'm talking low maintenance veggies that grow like weeds and still taste good.


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Sweet Potatoes and Cowpeas. Jerusalem Artichokes will make it but I personally don't like eating them.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 4:00PM
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Okra- originally from dry, hot, poor soil in Africa. Although, it does get benefit from better soil.

Other things that seem to do okay in tough conditions - Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, and sage. Any of the scruffy Mediterranean herbs. I find that if I baby them and water them regularly and feed them, they die.

While they won't look particularly beautiful, the flavor will be about the same.

I have Melissa (Lemon Balm) that is growing in the worst soil I have. For some reason it just keeps going. I suspect that if I moved it to a good spot, it would take over- much like its cousin mint.

While you didn't ask for herbs, I thought I'd mention it. I can't imagine not having herbs growing year around.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 8:58PM
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Beets and onions are my choices, in fact most root veggies for me, except carrots. But the OP is in a part of the world that I'm unfamiliar with, so I'm not sure what's best in the S. Pacific.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 11:59PM
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Oca, Yacon, Quinoa, Amaranth, Dandelion, Nopales, Cape Gooseberry, and Garlic.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 1:31AM
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The worst of bad soil? There is so many different type of worst soil for every different person. Some say water-log clay, some say 1.0 ph soil, some say sandy total porosity soil etc.

And the winner for lowest maintenance required in sandy soil is....cactus. They are edible, at least some of them are.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 2:02AM
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Do you want to eat impoverished produce? Make compost and buy a few minerals, if not. Minerals are a huge bang for the buck since you never lose them if you keep your garden waste and your own waste in the system.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 12:50PM
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thanks. i am in washington state. basically i bought a truckload of some good soil laid it all down years ago but now it seems my vegetables have used up all the minerals and can barely grow. i layered on soem new soil/minerals but still no luck. it looks like the only option for the vegetables is to replace most of the old soil. but instead of replacing the soil i want to just keep using it for some new vegetables that will grow in such conditions.

is there any more leafy green veggie or other non- tubers/roots that will grow? something you can just break off and throw it into a stirfry. amaranth okra basil look promising. maybe the garlic if the green stems can grow well in bad soil too (cut up the green stems for stir fry)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 11:06PM
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You can grow Radishes, Bok choy, Onions(maybe hill them as they grow so the bulb will have some soil if it's not loose. Lettuce, Peas (also adds nitrogen to the soil), etc.

There are lots that don't need good soil... just pitchfork it and weed it so roots can grow deep if it's not been done already.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 1:52AM
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"the worst of bad soil".... "bought a truckload of good soil"...."layered on some new soil/minerals" ....."vegetables can barely grow"....

I would say these generalities don't define what the problems may be. It would help to remember specifically what crops did the most poorly, and did any grow at least normally? Do any legumes thrive? Potatoes?

What is the basic soil type of your property? Have you done a soil test? You added some minerals. What were they, and how much? Has the plot ever produced well? Have you grown crops nearby but in different soil, as a comparison point?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 8:33AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I second pnbrown. The op is vague and lacking any detailed description so that leaves us shooting in the dark.

Pardon the hard critique.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 2:11PM
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No cultivated crops will produce food that tastes good in truly impoverished soil, as an answer to the OP question. IME. If the soil is in fact so barren then there must be inputs made at planting time. Probably poor soil is simply one of a numbers of issues, in this case.

Soil of low fertility can produce small amounts of decent crops, but still they will probably not compare in mineral levels with that produced on richer, livelier soils. In such a situation, and I have a plot of low fertility and low inputs, I would use long-season and perennial crops, as they can extract more over time and they favor the build-up of soil life, especially beneficial fungi. Reduce tillage to zero, use a fork only as already suggested. Parsnip, walking onion, russian kale has done well.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 6:48PM
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Crops that grow well even in poor conditions: Turnips, chicory, runner beans, leek, fava, parsnip, salsify, and radish.

Here is a link that might be useful: Self Sufficient Crops

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 9:54PM
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Where in Washington are you ? - west of the Cascades? - Wallis and Futuna is definitely west (not that it would matter - the forum is worldwide - but you would get very different answers to your question for very different climates).

Check your soil PH, lime could help.

Do you plan to irrigate? If you don't, you might be limited to growing a grain, early spring. or fall crop (because of the seasonal drought in much of the northwestern U.S.).

For more answers about stir fry vegetables you might also want to ask your question on the asian vegetables forum here at gardenweb.

Best of luck!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 2:42AM
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maps31(5 salt lake city, UT)

why not ammend the soil? check with your local waste management, some compost and sell for cheap!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 7:31PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

Collards do great in our sandy soil with just a little fertlizer.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 2:52PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Cowpeas (aka field peas or Southern peas) fit your criteria of "low maintenance veggies that grow like weeds and still taste good."

Cowpeas are sometimes used as a cover crop to be turned under to build up the soil. And they are good eating.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 9:16AM
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but, like all legumes they require some decent fertility to produce a crop. If they are being turned under at a young stage then a crop is not being removed from the system. All cultivated crops are adapted to relatively high fertility, compared to a barren, stripped, or eroded situation.

many weeds, OTOH, are mineral 'accumulators' and will grow rampantly in such conditions. If weeds were to be cropped it would introduce another factor to the equation.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 11:14AM
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This is why chicory grows well in bad soil. It is itself closely related to a weed, and a mineral accumulator.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 5:38PM
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Based on observation, I think parsnip is also, and walking onion and other perennial alliums.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 6:35PM
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