With interest in growing food continuing to rise, it's likely that some of your clients might be looking for more information. New research has revealed the vegetable that each American state wants to learn how to grow with potatoes being the most popular vegetable.
The research conducted by gardening experts at AllAboutGardening.com analyzed Google Trends data to establish the vegetable with the highest search volume for "how to grow" in each American state in the past five years.
Logan Hailey, organic vegetable specialist at AllAboutGardening.com also reveals the top tips for growing America's most popular vegetables that you can share with your clients.
Growing potatoes (the most-searched-for vegetable)
The analysis revealed that potatoes had the highest number of states searching for them the most, with a total of fourteen American states, including Connecticut, Utah, Montana, and Oklahoma.
Hailey reveals the best tip for growing your own potatoes is to pre-sprout them: "Pre-sprouting" or “chitting” your seed potatoes 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."
Cucumbers are the second most popular vegetable with seven states searching for how to grow them more than any other vegetable including New York, Nebraska, Texas, and Iowa.
Hailey'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."
A total of six states searched for how to grow beetroots the most out of any vegetable - the third-highest number of states in the research. States with residents searching for how to grow beetroots the most include Colorado, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Alabama.
Commenting on how to grow beetroots properly, Hailey states: "Beets often lack the nutrient boron, which can lead to “black heart rot”, weak leaves, or poor root growth. If you suspect your soil is lacking in bioavailable boron, 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."
Carrots and zucchinis
Two vegetables came joint fourth, with five states searching for each of them the most respectively – these vegetables carrots and zucchinis.
Carrots were the most searched for vegetable in five states – Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, and Minnesota. In order to best grow carrots, Hailey advises the following: "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. Also, don’t forget that thinning is essential for quality carrots. If you have noticed spindly or undeveloped carrot roots, be sure that you are using snips to thin out 2-4” of space between each carrot seedling."
Zucchinis were the vegetable with the most searches for how to grow it in Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Ohio, and Wyoming. Zucchinis are notoriously prone to powdery mildew. To prevent this, Hailey 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."
Onions, bell peppers, and squash
Three vegetables came joint fifth, with four states interested in growing these vegetables – onion, bell pepper, and squash - more than any other.
The states that wanted to learn how to grow onions more than any other vegetable was Washington state, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon. A quick tip Hailey shares for anyone wanting to learn how to grow onions is to save time: "If you’re an impatient gardener craving spring scallions or sweet onions, opt for “onion sets” 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."
The states of Florida, New Mexico, Georgia, and Wisconsin searched how to grow bell peppers more than any other vegetable.
Hailey advises the following for anyone looking to grow their own bell peppers: "Boost bell pepper yields and flavor by amending vermicompost or composted chicken manure to your garden beds. These moderate feeding Solanaceae-family crops also love an added boost of diluted fish and kelp fertilizer once they begin flowering."
The squash was also the most searched vegetable to learn how to grow in four states with those states being Hawaii, Maryland, Mississippi, and Virginia.
The secret to getting the sweetness in a squash, Hailey reveals, is to cure them properly: "Proper curing squash is the secret to sweetening the flavor and enjoying butternut or pumpkin pies all winter long. As your winter squash plants thrive in the garden, prepare a cool, dry area for curing with a ventilated table, fans, and dehumidifier (if in a moist climate). When it comes time to harvest, wait until the squash vines begin to wither and yellow, then cut your squash with 2-3” of stem and let them firm up in your curing chamber for 7 to 14 days. This can also be done in the garden if you are lucky enough to have warm, dry fall weather."
Lettuce and turnips
Lettuce was the most searched for vegetable in only one state – Missouri. Hailey reveals it can be tricky to grow lettuce: "Lettuce gives us a bit of a predicament: we crave its crisp, cool leaves in the heat of the summer, yet these plants are quick to bolt and become bitter in hot weather. If you want to enjoy tasty summer salads, opt for bolt-resistant varieties like ‘Salanova’ and companion plant them in the dappled shade of your trellised tomato plants."
Meanwhile, turnips were also the top searched vegetable to learn how to grow in only one state with that state being West Virginia. To ensure you're growing the perfect turnips, Hailey suggests consistency: "Consistency is key with turnips. If you want crisp, tender turnips, use drip irrigation or soaker hoses on timers to ensure a slight but continuous soil moisture. Use ample compost to increase water holding capacity and ensure that the soil doesn’t ever dry out."
Learning to grow food
Commenting on the study, a spokesperson from AllAboutGardening.com said: “Learning how to grow your own food, in particular, vegetables is not only a great skill and hobby to have, but is an incredibly useful way to cut costs when grocery shopping.
This data offers a fascinating insight into the geographical trend of which vegetables are most popular to grow across America which is likely attributed to varying climates.”