We are big fans of growing vegetables, and that’s a fact. But when it comes to who is growing what and where, new research* has revealed that different states do have their favorites.
Linked closely with success rates, climate, space to grow or even simply, taste, there is a clear frontrunner in US kitchen gardens. It’s no wonder really, since you can grow this kitchen staple in just about any space, any container or garden bed. And the produce goes with just about every savory dish there is…
The most popular vegetable to grow in the US
According to the research, the potato is the most popular vegetable in fourteen American states, including Connecticut, Utah, Montana, both North and South Dakota, and Oklahoma.
Potatoes are an incredibly versatile crop that can be grown in zones 3 to 10. You can plant potatoes in grow bags, raised garden beds, and even in a large, deep pot – whatever works for you. They can suffer from rot, though, making it trickier to grow them in very wet conditions. Logan Hailey, organic vegetable specialist at AllAboutGardening.com (opens in new tab) recommends pre-sprouting or “chitting” your seed potatoes: doing this ‘can jumpstart your harvest by up to two weeks and reduces the risk of rot and waste. To do this, you should lay your potatoes out in an even single layer on a tray or in egg cartons, place them in a light area (such as a window sill or porch) with the optimum temperature ranging from 60-70°F and let them sprout until they’re around an inch long before planting.’
While the humble spud took the uncontested top spot in the hearts of American vegetable growers, other traditional vegetables were not far behind.
2nd place: Cucumbers
Cucumbers are the second most popular vegetable. New York, Nebraska, Texas, and Iowa can’t get enough of these hydrating salad favorites that love hot summers.
Logan’s top tip for growing cucumbers is to trellis them: ‘If you want to save space in your garden and yield higher quality cucumbers that are less prone to disease, trellis cucumbers rather than letting them vine along the soil. Use a cattle panel mounted on T-posts or rebar to create a cheap, simple trellis. Then, plant cucumbers about 12″ apart and allow them to vine up the panel. Prune off the suckers to promote more fruit growth and keep plenty of airflow between foliage.’
3rd place: Beats
Beetroots are the vegetable people in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Alabama want to grow the most, and they’re even less fussy about climate than potatoes, growing happily in zones 2-10. Gardening for beginners doesn’t get much easier than growing beetroots.
The only potential problem with growing beets is that they need boron to thrive; If you live in an area with boron-deficient soil, particularly in Eastern US, you may need to supplement your soil with boric acid. ‘You can side-dress or foliar spray with an organically-approved Borax (boric acid) at a rate of 1/2 ounce per 100 square feet.’
Joint 4th place: Carrots & Zucchini
Finally, carrots were the most searched for vegetable in five states – Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, and Minnesota while zucchini was the most desired vegetable in Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Ohio, and Wyoming.
If you’re growing carrots in Arizona, be aware that they need a lot of water while they’re establishing. Logan says that ‘due to their finicky watering needs, carrot seeds tend to be difficult to germinate. Try using a piece of row cover or clear greenhouse plastic laid over the soil surface to maintain even moisture until they sprout.’
And if your heart is set on zucchini but you live in a humid region (hello, Arkansas!), watch out for powdery mildew. Logan explains: ‘The secret to keeping zucchini plants disease-free is maintaining air circulation by providing 2-3 square feet of space per plant, keeping weeds down, and preventatively applying diluted neem solution during moist conditions. It also helps to mulch with a straw or dried leaf mulch to prevent rain splashing onto the leaves.’
5th place: onions, bell pepper and squash
Four states were most interested in growing these vegetables but surprisingly, Calif is really into onions… Yep, despite Calif having one of the best climates to grow a wide variety of crops, gardeners seem especially keen on rearing onion crops. Don’t get us wrong, we do enjoy the tang of a chopped shallot in our guacamole. A quick tip from Logan for anyone wanting to learn how to grow onions: ‘If you’re an impatient gardener craving spring scallions or sweet onions, opt for “onion sets (opens in new tab)” or starter bulbs to make your harvest quicker. These mini onion bulbs can be planted instead of seeds to save you time and effort from thinning.’
*Research by AllAboutGardening