by Matt Gibson
Looking for hard to kill vegetables? Maybe you love gardening, but are troubled with guilt due to a less-than-stellar history when it comes to keeping your plants alive long enough to harvest. Putting off having a vegetable garden because you aren’t looking forward to the laborious task of digging up a plot, weeding, watering, and all the rest?
These vegetable plants are perfect for beginning gardeners who want to start their own vegetable garden—or proficient gardeners who are ready to reap the rewards of easy-peasy homegrown veggies. This list should be just the thing to increase your confidence and encourage you to dust off your gardening gloves and break out the spade and shovel for the upcoming growing season.
These hardy veggie plants are typically very difficult to kill once you have them established. It’s time to give your sore back and packed schedule a rest. Fill your garden beds with these tough vegetable plants that will help to stock your fridge, add lots of fresh, healthy produce to your diet, and save you some cash at the grocery store.
Peas are lots of fun to grow and harvest, and they’re very hard to kill once they are planted and settled in. Because of their extremely high success rate, peas are commonly used as a starter plant by patient gardeners teaching children how to grow veggies. Provide a lattice or mesh support for the pea vines to attach to as they grow, and they will sprout up and extend vertically and horizontally, providing a plentiful harvest that you can pick, shell, or eat right off the vine if you so choose. Don’t eat all your peas raw in the garden, though. Bring the bulk of your pea harvest inside, then find a tasty recipe or two to bring your peas to the dinner table as a side dish, or even a main course.
Hot peppers, such as the popular jalapeno, are surprisingly simple to care for, and they’re extremely difficult to kill as long as they get plenty of direct sunlight as well as an ample, well-draining water source. These resilient peppers reach maturity in just a few short weeks, and each plant can produce a surprising amount of peppers. If you are not pickling your peppers or making a salsa from your harvests, you may soon find yourself with more peppers than you know what to do with. As with most gifts of the garden, a basket of freshly picked jalapeno peppers makes for a welcome and spicy gift for friends and family, provided they can take the heat.
Many varieties of tomato are easy to grow and very hands-off to care for once the plant’s roots have grown strong. Larger tomato varieties usually produce smaller harvests, while medium-sized tomatoes and smaller varieties, such as cherry and grape tomatoes, produce massive amounts of fruit throughout the growing season.
While heirloom and beefsteak tomato varieties are famously finicky and can be tricky to plant and grow, the smaller varieties are nearly trouble free. The easiest of all tomato varieties to grow is the cherry tomato, which is tolerant of excess heat and water levels and resistant to blight and root rot, not to mention it provides more than enough fruit for a large family to enjoy.
All it takes to have success growing eggplants is a combination of water and sunlight. As long as those two components are present, eggplants will grow rapidly and can be harvested and enjoyed in various sizes and shapes throughout the growing season. The amount of sunlight and water you provide is up to you. Eggplants will adjust to most any growing environment or climate, and have a very high success rate while requiring very little attention or care. All you need to decide is how to cook all the eggplant you’ll grow.
Another great vegetable for children or adult gardeners to plant is the yellow squash plant. This vine-ripening beauty is easy to care for, grows like a weed, and produces several new pieces of fruit each week. Mature squash plants will soon have you swimming in squash, with more than enough to give away as gifts to share the rewards of your harvests.
Very similar to the squash plant, zucchini is a popular choice for beginner vegetable gardeners due to its bountiful fruiting and speedy proliferation. Harvest the fruits once they’ve reached eight or nine inches in length, or they will reach massive sizes but grow weak in flavor and lose nutrients. Often called a vegetable that is impossible to kill, zucchini in the garden will keep your refrigerator stocked for the season to come.
Both pole beans and bush beans are as incredibly easy to plant, grow, and harvest, and they mature and become ready to pick just a few short weeks after planting. Runner beans need a soil that is rich in moisture-retaining materials, and they require supports, such as bamboo canes for the vines to climb as they grow. Broad beans can be planted in double rows, each row supporting the other one, and some taller broad bean varieties require some twigs or small branches pushed into the soil to provide the bean plants something to lean on, as mature beans tend to make the taller broad bean varieties top heavy.
Once you have your plants in the ground and your supports in place, beans can be left to fend for themselves in the garden, needing only the occasional harvesting to allow them to reproduce.
This crisp, flavorful, and peppery root vegetable can be enjoyed in soups and stew, or slice radishes thinly and toss them into your favorite salads for a refreshingly spicy but subtle kick of flavor.
Give each radish six to eight inches of space before planting another so that they will have room to develop root bulbs underground. Giving your radish plants a little room will ensure that there is no need to thin the plants out as the radishes start to expand horizontally beneath the soil. Radishes are not only super easy to sow and care for, but they grow from seed and are ready to harvest just a few short weeks from planting. We recommend the French Breakfast variety, which is the kind of radish typically found in grocery stores. This traditional variety produces red and white cylindrical root systems with a strong, complex flavor profile.
If you and your family eat a healthy diet and you are growing produce in your vegetable garden, you can save a ton of money by including your own salad greens. Try growing several varieties that allow you to harvest leaves that will grow back after you cut them. We recommend a mix of mizuna, mustard, and rocket lettuce, each of which will produce at least twice during a growing season as long as you leave at least one centimeter of stalk on the plant when you harvest.
For around the same amount of money as a bag of prewashed lettuce leaves, you can get enough seeds to provide you with salad greens for an entire growing season. The tiny seeds will sprout up everywhere they are spread, so you will need to thin them out and give them adequate space to expand without fighting over water and nutrients. However, don’t toss out the thinnings, as these microgreens are high in nutrients, insanely tasty, and great tossed into salads and wraps.
Want More Hard To Kill Plants That You Can Eat?
Why stop at vegetables that are hard to kill? Try your hand at growing the following fruits and herbs in your garden as well:
Apples: There are varieties of apple trees on the market are suited to every climate. With a little bit of patience and practically no individual care, you can harvest apples in abundance.
Apricots: These tasty stone fruits take very little hassle or care to grow, and they thrive in a variety of growing environments.
Strawberries: Strawberry plants produce juicy, bright red fruit all summer long. Wait until all of the berries on the plant have matured, and then harvest them all at once.
Raspberries: Mature raspberry plants produce lots of fruit that can be harvested throughout the summer. They can be grown easily in the ground or in containers.
Basil: In the warm weather months of the spring and early summer, basil is easy to grow and maintain. Harvest the uppermost leaves first and enjoy in salads, soups, pastas, and pesto.
Thyme: Thyme requires only a bit of water and exposure to at least a few hours of sunlight each day. For optimal results, grow indoors in a container near a south- or southwestern-facing window.
Mint: Mint is probably the easiest herb to grow, and the plant is actually practically invasive. Set up strong borders or grow yours in a container if you don’t want your mint to take over an entire garden bed.
Chives: Garlic and onion chives are both easy to grow, and they’re widely used in culinary applications.
Wheatgrass: Wheatgrass is notoriously squeezed into juice, which is consumed as a healthy, immune-boosting superfood. It is also very easy to grow and impossible to kill once established.