Let’s face it: Some crops are just easier to grow than others. Check out this list of a dozen easy vegetables to grow for a good harvest. They’re the perfect crops for beginning gardeners!
Originally published in February 2014; this post has been updated.
If you’re new to growing vegetables, keep it simple and stick with options that are sure to leave you feeling successful at the end of your first official growing season.
These easy to grow vegetables offer great odds and are some of the easiest to add to your vegetable garden, assuring a successful garden harvest. Unless otherwise noted, these crops can easily be direct seeded in the garden.
New to gardening? Limited on space? The 5-Gallon Garden gives you the skills you need to grow food in the space you have. Get started with your garden today!
Cool Season Vegetable Crops
Cool season veggies can generally be planted in spring as soon as the soil can be worked, and again in the fall. They don’t do so well during the hot months of summer. As long as you remember that these crops prefer cool weather, you’ll find these veggies to be worth a spot in your garden.
Radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow — they’re especially good when planting a garden with children. You can sow seeds directly in garden beds, they sprout easily and quickly, and can be harvested in just three to four weeks. Almost instant success!
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This spicy green grows easily in pots. Let some of the plants go to seed and you’ll find it popping up all over the place. An easy to grow vegetable that also sows itself? Double win! It can be served raw in simple salads or cooked, but perhaps our favorite way to use it is scattered atop a fresh homemade pizza. [Buy seeds]
Snow Pea and/or Sugar Snap Pea
Snow peas have edible pods and should be harvested just as you can see the seeds forming inside for the most tender crop. Sugar snap peas get a bit fatter, but you eat the pod with this variety, too.
Grown for both its greens and the stalks, Swiss chard is easy to grow and it can be continuously harvested for months. It’s a great option for growing in pots, too. [Buy seeds]
Plant seeds or — easier — pop the roots from purchased green onions underground. They’ll sprout again, and you can trim off green stems as you need them. [Buy seeds]
Easy Vegetables to Grow in the Summer
These are crops that love the sun. No matter how excited you are for fresh summer veggies, planting them out too soon will just frustrate you. Growing vegetables can be a lesson in patience as you wait for your last spring frost date!
A tomato plant set out to get a “head start” in early April when it’s still too cold for it to thrive will not produce any earlier than a plant set out in late May when the weather is at its peak.
Plus, you’ll risk losing those early plants to a late frost. (Trust me. I’ve tried.)
You can grow Roma tomatoes for cooking, big tomatoes for slicing, or tiny cherry tomatoes for snacking your way through the garden. Tomato plants come in two forms: determinate and indeterminate.
- Determinate plants stay compact—about three to four feet in height—and the fruit ripens at roughly the same time. These are a good choice for space-challenged urban gardeners.
- Indeterminate varieties are more vining, and continue to grow and produce fruit until frost kills them. They can get quite large and need support.
Start seeds indoors and transplant seedlings. [Buy seeds]
Zucchini is probably the most recognizable summer squash, but there are also crookneck and patty pan varieties that produce prolifically, arguably winning the top ‘easy to grow’ gardening award. Most can take up a fair bit of real estate in your garden—give them about four square feet—but patty pan plants stay a bit more compact.
Once squash plants start producing, you will need to harvest daily. Zucchini and other summer squash are most tender when they’re about 6″ long, or in the case of patty pan varieties, 2-3″ across. Squash blossoms are also edible.
To plant, create a flat-topped mound, roughly two feet in diameter and plant three seeds, equally spaced, in each mound. [Buy seeds]
Okay, so basil is an herb. But what’s a summertime garden without it? I’ve had the most success direct seeding basil in the garden once the soil has really warmed up. Say, June. Once it gets growing, you can snip leaves for months and months. Let a few go ahead and flower – the bees love it.
Transplant seedlings in the garden once the ground warms. Basil tends to reseed itself, so watch for tiny seedlings if your plants begin producing flower heads and seeds. [Buy seeds]
Green beans come in both bush and pole varieties. Bush beans stay compact and close to the ground, reaching only 1 to 2 feet in height. Pole varieties need support and can grow 6 to 8 foot high. No matter; they’re one of the easiest vegetables to grow!
Once they start producing, you’ll be able to harvest green beans every few days for weeks. For fun, try a purple variety. (They turn green when you cook them.)
If you’d like to try your hand at growing beans for drying (such as pinto or kidney beans), those grow similarly. You’ll let them mature and begin to dry on the vine before harvesting.
Direct sow bean seeds in the garden after your last frost. [Buy seeds]
While the standard bell pepper plants you can find at most nurseries (think: Bell Boy) can be a bit persnickety, requiring a long season to mature, I’ve had really good luck with a hybrid called Gypsy. These bell peppers mature earlier and the plants are prolific.
Hot peppers have similar growing requirements and are generally very easy to grow, so get ready for salsa.
Also called husk tomatoes, these are easy vegetables to grow and the fruit is insect resistant, since it’s encased in a protective husk. They grow similarly to a tomato plant and can benefit from a little support. Once established in your garden, don’t be surprised if you find volunteer plants popping up next season. Use them to make this tomatillo salsa.
Start seeds indoors and transplant seedlings. [Buy seeds]
There are cucumber varieties for pickling and others that are well-suited for fresh eating, but both are easy vegetables to grow. You can let cucumbers vine across the ground or climb a structure. They’ll produce pretty prolifically for several weeks; consider succession planting every couple of weeks to ensure a continuous harvest.
Build up a long mound in the garden, flatten it on top, and direct sow seeds every six inches. [Buy seeds]
Choose What Thrives in YOUR Region
*Now mind you, your region will impact the ease with which you can grow these vegetables. For instance, most gardeners know all too well the blessing/curse of Too Much Zucchini, but I struggle with it here in the tropics.
Talk to a friendly gardening neighbor to find out what they are having success with, or contact your local cooperative extension office and ask a Master Gardener.
Not much space, but still want to garden? Use these container growing techniques.
What are the easiest vegetables to grow in your garden?