The easiest vegetables to grow have always been a question of great interest to beginner gardeners.
We asked our gardening experts and received answers with the following key points:
- Using seeds to grow vegetables is more suitable for beginners.
- Most vegetables require lots of sun for good yield.
- Tomatoes is a very popular plant among experts.
- Companion planting is recommended to have a better vegetable garden and prevent pests.
Gina Harper from Harper’s Nurseries
Some vegetables are much easier to grow than others and the first ones that often spring to mind include tomatoes, beans, and lettuce. However, I’d like to talk about sprouts, a category of vegetables often overlooked and perhaps even easier to grow.
Raw sprouts can be grown in a matter of days, require minimal care, and don’t even need soil.
Raw sprouts can be a tasty and nutritious addition to sandwiches, salads, and stir-fries. Packed with vitamins and fiber, they are ideal for those with limited garden space as they can be grown on a countertop indoors. All you will need is a glass jar and the seeds or legumes of your choice.
I have successfully sprouted from store-bought lentils and mung beans but the results can be unpredictable, so it’s better to purchase sprouting seeds for a higher rate of success.
Not all legumes or seeds are suitable for sprouting. For example, chia and flax seeds require more effort, and kidney beans can be toxic so these are best avoided.
Alternatively, opt for legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and mung beans, In the seed category, alfalfa, radish, mustard, and kale will yield the best results.
Sprouting doesn’t require lots of sunshine as the main requirements are that they have good drainage and circulation. All you need to do to grow your own sprouts is soak, drain and rinse and it’s a fun activity for children too.
- Sterilize a mason jar, add the seeds or legumes, and rinse thoroughly. Once you have removed any debris and particles, add water and leave to soak for around 8 hours or overnight.
Different seeds soak up different quantities of water so make sure to add enough for them to soak fully.
- After the soaking time is complete, drain, rinse and cover with a cloth and place the jar at a 45-degree angle. This will allow the water to drain while keeping the sprouts moist and prevent flies from entering.
- You should start to see the sprouts germinating by day 2. Continue to rinse and drain twice daily and within 2.4 days your sprouts will be ready.
- Remove the germinated sprouts and air dry before placing them in an airtight container. The sprouts can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.
As a final note, sprouts are not only good for humans. If you have chickens, they will devour sprouts and birds love them too.
Owen Mosser from The Golden
If you’re a complete beginner or someone that has a black thumb but wants to get into gardening, then it’s important to know which vegetables would be the easiest to grow.
Growing plants and vegetables from seeds are less expensive in the long run. Growing easy vegetables can be your start in your gardening journey.
Here are 3 of the easiest vegetables to grow:
Spinach is one of those vegetables that deserve the top spot for the easiest vegetables to grow. Spinach can be planted from both seeds and transplants, but most gardeners use seeds for it.
You will need to plant spinach in well-drained soil with compost. The great thing about it is that it can be planted both in full sun and light shade.
When you plant spinach, all you have to do is make sure to remove any clusters that appear. The best time to plant these are during spring and fall.
It takes 40-50 days before you can harvest spinach. You can also plant it together with cabbage, as it is its best companion.
Homegrown tomatoes are the best! They’re also super easy to grow.
For transplanting tomatoes, you need to start them indoors for 4 to 6 weeks. Starting from seeds will do, too.
Tomatoes grow best in full sunlight in well-drained soil. They grow best during the summer, so make sure that there’s not even a single trace of snow or frost when planting these.
They just need to be watered regularly for them to grow. It takes 60-100 days to be harvested. It also goes best with chives, carrots, and peppers.
Bell peppers are flavorful and easy to grow. They love the heat! So the best time to plant them is during early summer.
They would need to be in direct sunlight in well-drained soil. All it needs is regular watering and you’re good to go.
It takes only 60-80 days to harvest them, and they go best with onions and carrots.
Jordan Collins from Two Lions 11
Peas are mostly planted as spring approaches. It’s best to plant them when soil temperatures become 45°F.
Avoid planting if you notice that the soil is still wet from melted snow. Choose a location that is exposed to the sun as that’s one factor guaranteeing perfect growth.
Also, enrich the soil with wood ashes and bone meal prior to the planting process to provide enough phosphorus and potassium for strong growth.
Cucumbers are planted using seeds. They thrive and grow strong when the sun is shining and the temperatures are hot.
This is why it’s best to grow them during hot weather. Don’t be quick to plant them if the soil temperatures haven’t reached 70°F.
When planting, space them about 40 – 60 inches apart to ensure there’s enough space for growth and each plant receives enough sun. The pH of the soil should be about 6.5.
You can support the soil by enriching it with aged compost. For best results, make sure the cucumbers receive about an inch of water once a week.
As a pro tip – use a straw mulch to ensure the plant is clean and prevent insects and bugs from attacking it.
These 2 vegetables are among my most favourite and this is why I’ve focused on them. They’re extremely easy to take care of and produce delicious results.
David Lewis from My Garden Kid
Radishes come in a variety of shapes, colors and flavors. They grow quickly from the seed, and can usually be harvested in under a month from the time you plant them.
Plant your radishes in tight rows during the late spring and into early summer, placing seeds less than 1” deep. You can stagger planting, adding a row every week for continuous harvest throughout the summer or at least until it gets hot.
Radishes prefer full sun in moist, slightly acidic soil. Fortunately for kids and novice gardeners, this veggie is quite flexible.
It only needs 1” of water per week, and in many areas the natural elements will take care of that. Partial shade is fine.
When the days get too long or the temperatures too hot the radishes will bolt, meaning that you’ll see a vertical growth spurt so the plant can come to flower.
In a lot of cases, this will make the veggie turn bitter. You can irrigate or partially shade to keep the plant cooler and delay this process.
Plant your radishes near squash and cucumber to prevent pests. They are a great companion planting to many leafy greens, peas, tomatoes and mint as well.
Mint is an incredible addition for almost any garden. It attracts good critters like earthworms, and repels many common pests like aphids.
One downside is that mint can also take over a small plot quickly. It’s quite invasive, but you can constrain it by planting within a container inside your bed.
Sow mint indoors and then transplant to an outdoor garden after the final frost. Most nurseries and many grocery stores carry seedlings in the spring if you don’t want to pilot the plants yourself.
With mint you don’t need to wait for “the harvest” to enjoy it. You can pinch off leaves or stems at any time during the growing season, from late spring until early fall.
Mint is a great addition to a variety of summer drinks, marinades and roasted veggies.
When planting, give your mint plenty of room to spread out as it grows. Save 18” to 24” between plants as a good rule of thumb.
Mint prefers full sun, but will also do well in a shadier environment. Water frequently if your garden has extended exposure to direct sunlight.
Depending on the type of mint you’re growing, the plants can be hardy at a variety of temperatures. Peppermint is a great option for colder climates, while spearmint will do well if you are living in a hotter area.
Mint smells amazing to us humans, and will create a shield of aroma around your garden that attracts local pollinators and staves off several common pests.
It is a great companion for cabbage, cauliflower and kale because of this. Pair mint with oregano and marigolds in a ring around your vegetable garden to stave off pests.
Jo Cosgrove, Owner at Native by Nature Design & Horticulture and Expert at Trees.com
This really depends on the amount of space you have in your home, your budget, and the time you have to dedicate to fussing over garden prep in the late winter/early spring.
Seed starting requires daily attention and monitoring. For those brand new to gardening and/or people with small gardens, it can be more cost effective to simply buy plants from a local nursery at first, and to graduate to seed starting as experience is gained.
That said, starting your plants from seed can be remarkably satisfying. To be successful, it must be understood that there is a learning curve to engineering the right conditions for a seed starting setup in your home (ie: sunlit window, shelving, lighting, temperature, etc.) so it’s important to expect failure and endure heartbreak!
Seedlings will die, but troubleshooting can be very rewarding. Starting seeds also gives you much more freedom to grow heirloom varieties that your nursery might not carry.
This is a way to personalize your garden to your specific culinary, growing condition and aesthetic needs!
To start, some crops are most successful when started from seed indoors and then transplanted into your garden after the risk of frost is long gone (ie: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, kale, collards, head lettuce).
Other crops perform better when they are “directly seeded” into your garden a week or so after the last frost, either because they are faster growing or because they are a plant that don’t like having their roots disturbed (ie: beans, peas, cutting greens, root vegetables, squash).
Depending on your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone, these “last frost” dates vary. You can easily look up the best guesses at first and last frost dates for your local area in the Farmer’s Almanac (every gardener’s personal bible).
Most seedlings started indoors need 6-10 weeks to reach ideal transplanting maturity so plan ahead!
Most seed packets clearly state the estimated “Days to Harvest”, so take that number of days into account when selecting what to grow and when to start them.
The “Days to Harvest” starts either from the date of transplant or the date of direct seeding. Either way, keep a garden journal to record these momentous occasions and track your successes and failures!
For example, I live in Delaware and I start tomatoes and peppers indoors in the middle of February. By the time the last frost date for my area rolls around (4/20) I have typically already transplanted them into larger containers than I started the seeds in.
Depending on the variety, I will expect to start harvesting tomatoes around the middle to the end of July and continue harvesting until well into fall. I grow indeterminate tomatoes which continue growing and producing fruit until the first frost.
Crops like baby mesclun lettuce mixes, carrots and peas, on the other hand, I direct seed before or around the last frost date. These are crops that can germinate and grow in cooler temperatures.
I seed 2-3 peas in a hole about 1.5″ deep, 4-6″ apart at the bottom of a trellis, and I sprinkle either mesclun mix or carrot seed in bands about 3″ wide with seeds as close to 1″ apart as I can manage.
I sprinkle a small amount of soil atop the carrot seed and gently pat it down. 5-10 days later I typically see sprouting and by early June, I can typically harvest my first peas.
By mid June I’ll have a mesclun mix to cut, and by late June I’ll have baby carrots.
Root vegetables and “cutting green” crops can be “batched” meaning as soon as you harvest one round, you can seed another for a fall harvest.
This is because their growing time is short relative to other crops. In the case of cutting lettuce, you can easily time 3 rounds in a growing season as they are typically ready to harvest in 27-35 days.
Most crops prefer soil to remain between 65-75 degrees. Crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, squash and okra can tolerate more heat, and furthermore are somewhat drought tolerant.
Peas as well as brassicas like lettuce and kale desire cooler, more mild temperatures and can even tolerate some light afternoon shade. But, as a basic rule, ideal soil temperatures would remain in the 65-75 degree range.
Most vegetable crops require full sun, though some protective afternoon light shade can be helpful with more delicate crops like lettuces.
Peppers are a unique nightshade, in that they enjoy a bit of light afternoon shade as well. Added bonus of afternoon shade for peppers – more complex flavors due to longer ripening time!
For fruits and vegetables with a high sugar content such as tomatoes and melons, full sunlight aids in the ripening process.
If done well, companion planting can be the determining factor to your success with certain crops, depending on the pest pressure in your area.
Inter-planting certain herbs and fragrant flowers with your vegetables can either deter pests simply by smelling unappetizing, or in many cases, interactions in the soil can actually cause 2 plants to create a symbiotic effect that benefits the health of your crop plant to the point where pests don’t bother them.
One relationship that I have experienced is the effect that planting cilantro and garlic among my root vegetables, kale and lettuces tends to ward off both root maggot (which mine into root vegetables and ruin them) and Harlequin beetle (which feed on foliage).
Another tried and true method: planting a perimeter of pyrethrum daisies around the borders of my veggie gardens. These plants produce natural “pyrethrins” which are used as organic insecticides.
But I prefer to simply plant the flowers rather than introduce a processed and concentrated chemical into the harmony of my garden. This way, beneficial insects can come and go as they please while less desirable “guests” take a hike.
Companion planting is an organic gardener’s best first line of defense against insect pests. The key about companion planting is that a healthy plant can fight it’s own battles.
An organic garden devoid of some presence of nuisance insects is a pipe dream, so a well-planned companion garden is about plant partnerships that boost plant health. The effects of these relationships occur both above and below the soil to fortify your crops.
Above the soil, the forms of good partners cooperate. A taller plant can lean on a shorter, stockier plant. A broad-leafed ground cover can help shade and retain moisture in the soil for a taller, leggier plant. A vine can climb a tall, sparsely foliated stalk.
Meanwhile, below the surface of the soil plant roots are interacting, sharing and exchanging nutrients. Some fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and lend it to their neighbors, while others with deep taproots “upwell” nutrients and moisture from depths that their shallow-rooted friends can’t reach.
The method of companion planting is about using the natural histories and habits of plants to benefit one another and can be a wonderful experiment year after year. Companion planting charts are some of my holiest texts.
Above are very easy to grow vegetables with specific instructions on how to care for them. So even if you are a new gardener, don’t hesitate to try planting them.
Be patient and the results are worth it. Thanks for your reading!