by Matt Gibson
Have you always wanted to start a vegetable garden? Do you dream about the benefits of growing your own produce? Is it something that you keep putting off? You’re not alone. Many people hesitate jumping into practical gardening because they fear that they will fail miserably, kill all their plants, and give up. Don’t let fear stop you from feeling the satisfaction of growing your own produce and saving money at the grocery store. This article will help you get off on the right foot. These vegetables are super easy to grow, even for beginning gardeners. So, put away your fears and break out the shears. It’s time to grow your own food my dude.
What is the easiest vegetable to grow? Probably lettuce, or a root vegetable like radish or carrot. However, every vegetable covered in this article is a walk in the park when it comes to simplicity of care. If you’re putting off starting a vegetable garden because you don’t have the time, these are the vegetables to start with. With only occasional watering needed to reap a harvest in your own backyard, there’s no good excuse not to sow your seeds (or plant your seedlings, for a higher success rate). In addition to telling you what are the easiest veggies to get started with in the garden, this article will provide you with all you need to know to grow each vegetable listed, tips on how to deal with potential problems with pests and pillagers, and some pro tips to get your garden thriving in no time!
Vegetable plants, like any other plants, come in two varieties, warm season crops and cool season crops. Cool season crops are to be grown in the early spring and fall months and most can handle a few light frosts. Warm season crops cannot survive the frosts and require warm temperatures to grow. These should be grown in the summer when all danger of frost has passed.
Lettuce may be the easiest vegetable to grow and it is so useful in culinary applications that it’s a no-brainer as a veggie garden centerpiece for beginning gardeners. Lettuce is the backbone of a good salad, and it is also a much needed addition to sandwiches and wraps. Lettuce is available in lots of different varieties, colors, and leaf shapes. Even growing from seed, gardeners can expect to produce edible shoots of leafy greens in as little as 30 days. If planting heading lettuce, allow 60-80 days for the heads to fully mature before harvesting, and cut down the whole plant once it has matured.
Lettuce is a cool weather plant, and therefore, should be grown plentifully during the spring and fall months. Pests and invasive weeds can sometimes become an issue when growing lettuce, so we recommend planting in containers to avoid potential problems.
For continuous harvest all spring long and deep into the summer, plant lettuce every two weeks so that new plants reach maturity regularly. Sow seeds ¼ of an inch deep in well-drained, evenly-moist soil. Water frequently as lettuce has a very shallow root system. As soon as the top layer of soil becomes dry to the touch, add more water.
Harvest heads by cutting the stalk down to just an inch above the soil’s surface. Harvest leaf lettuce by trimming off the outer leaves of the plant to encourage new growth, while leaving the inner (older) leaves, to keep the core of the plant healthy.
Spinach is packed full of vitamins and minerals, and is one of the best natural sources of iron you can find. In the kitchen, spinach is a complex and versatile ingredient that is a good addition to just about anything. Add Popeye’s favorite leafy greens to soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza, omelets, and much, much more.
Before planting, you need to take some time to consider what spinach variety you would like to grow. Spinach comes in three main types: savoy, semi-savoy, and smooth leaf. Savoy spinach grows low to the ground and has very crinkly leaves. It is cold-tolerant and disease-resistant, and though some people prefer savoy due to the leaf’s thick, chewy texture and peppery flavor, it has a tendency to get dirty, and it’s hard to get clean due to its crinkled leaves.
Like lettuce, spinach is a cool weather plant. If planted early, spinach should be ripe for harvesting just after leaf lettuce. Spinach is similar to leaf lettuce also, in the recommended harvesting approach. Take cuttings of the outer leaves once they reach maturity to encourage new growth, leaving the older, inner leaves intact to keep the plant healthy and thriving.
Plant spinach as early in the spring as you can manage, in loose, well-draining soil. Spinach will flourish in full sunlight but doesn’t mind a little shade either, especially in warmer climate areas. There is no need to add fertilizer to your soil before planting or during the season, as spinach doesn’t require feeding. Succession planting is recommended, so that your kitchen will have an almost continuous supply of spinach until late summer or early fall.
Radishes are probably the easiest vegetable to grow. They are perfect for beginning gardeners, as the success rate for growth is very high which will boost the confidence of the most notorious plant murderers. Also, radish plants produce enough fruit to keep them off your grocery list throughout the entire year. Though radish is also a cool weather plant, its a root vegetable, meaning it grows underground. Being tucked away in the soil and out of the elements has its perks. The veggies are protected from hungry critters who are known to peruse your garden buffet. Plus, radish can be sown in the spring and all throughout the summer.
Once your radishes are established, they don’t need any help from you. The only work involved in growing radishes is in the preparation of the grow site. Clean the soil you are going to use for radishes before planting, removing all rocks and sticks from the area. If the soil is clumpy, take some time to break it down into a finer consistency.
Plant in containers or directly into the garden in early spring, four months after the last frost. Continue to plant radishes all throughout the summer months, and again early in the fall. This will probably provide you with more radishes than you know what to do with. If that is the case, make some gift baskets full of radishes and give them away to family, friends, co-workers, or members of your church. Harvest the bulbs after one month of growth when the leaves are 4 inches long. Keep your garden area free of weeds as best as you can, as weeds will suck all of the nutrients out of the soil. .
Carrots are a root vegetable, and like radishes, they also require a loose, light, well-drained, debris-free soil. Unlike radishes, however, carrots do require fertilizer. Rake or till one cup of 10-20-10 fertilizer for every 10 feet of carrot row that you plant. As with radishes, keep your carrot area free from weeds, as they will strip the soil of nutrients that your carrots require to flourish.
Plant rows 1 to 2 feet apart and allow only two inches between each carrot plant within the row. Plant seeds ½ an inch deep. Once the plants grow to four inches in height, thin down the rows so that each plant is four inches apart. You will probably be surprised at what you can harvest from the thinning. Some of the carrots you remove from the rows should be big enough to eat.
Every one foot of carrots you plant should produce about one pound of carrots during the growing season. Start the first seeds in mid spring after the threat of frost has passed. Plant new crops every two weeks to enjoy a continuous harvest of carrots throughout the fall months. Try growing carrots in containers.
Other Easy-To-Grow Vegetables
These four veggies are super simple to grow, even for beginners, but they are not the only ones that don’t require a lot of care. Garlic, onion, and shallots are very easy to grow and provide plenty of produce per plant. Summer squash and zucchini require very little attention once established and just one or two plants will pump out enough tasty veggies to harvest all season long. Summer squash, zucchini, and cucumber all require very similar growing conditions. Grow them vertically using a trellis for support, to get the most out of small garden spaces. Beans, of both the pole and bush variety, are also quite easy to grow, and will supply you with enough beans to eat and store away for future use. Tomatoes are another great beginner vegetable, but we recommend starting with some of our other suggestions before trying your hand at tomatoes, as tomatoes are susceptible to some discouraging disease issues that should be avoided until you have developed some confidence as a gardener.
No matter how your vegetable yield turns out, you will undoubtedly see some success each season that you try your hand. Even if only a few of your attempts are successful, you will still see some savings on your grocery bills. With the price of produce these days, a little bit of savings goes a long way.
Want to learn more about easy to grow vegetables?
Gardening Know How covers Tips on How to Plant Radish
Grow a Good Life covers 8 Easiest Vegetables to Grow in Your Garden
Eartheasy covers Spinach: How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Spinach Greens
Lifehacker covers The Seven Easiest Vegetables to Grow for Beginner Gardeners
Mother Nature Network covers Easy vegetables to Grow
Prevention covers 21 Easiest Veggies & Herbs To Grow
Sparkpeople covers The 10 Easiest Vegetables to Grow
Thompson & Morgan covers Top 10 Easy to Grow Vegetable, Fruit & Salad Seeds and Plants for Beginners
Not to be contrary, but I have to politely disagree with most of the choices mentioned here as being “easy” to grow.
LETTUCE may have a short maturity time, but it’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever grown: 1) you have to stagger plant so you don’t get a giant harvest followed by nothing; 2) everything from slugs and cutworms to passing wildlife is just waiting for the first true leaves of your lettuce to emerge before wiping it out… here today, gone tomorrow; 3) if the weather suddenly turns hot or there’s a freak dry spell, many varieties will “bolt” and taste spectacularly bitter.
I’ve lived in USDA Zone 9, Zone 6, and Zone 4, but I have never found a single zone where I’ve been able to successfully grow abundant SPINACH. At most I get a few cups before it bolts. I’ve tried bolt-resistant varieties of all sorts. No luck at all for me… best of luck to someone who can figure out the secret.
RADISHES are very easy to grow, I have to agree… but, seriously, how many of these can you eat? Other than tossing one or two sliced radishes onto your salad, there aren’t many uses for radishes. And, before you know it, most varieties will mature into spicy, bitter, woody tubers that are basically not good for much.
I used to give myself a hard time for not being able to successfully grow CARROTS, but I’ve talked to a lot of gardeners and now I know I’m not alone. Sowing the seed is a nightmare — tiny tiny seeds that you can’t even bury under even a hint of soil if you want them to germinate and yet you’re somehow supposed to keep the soil moist at all times until they germinate. I’ve tried seed tapes, covering them with a board to keep them moist until they germinate… all sorts of methods. Most of the time, I get extremely spotty germination and maybe a 6 or so carrots of average size, nothing to write home about.
If you can keep pests at bay, I do agree that the easiest vegetables to grow are ONIONS, SUMMER SQUASH, and CUCUMBERS.
Try roasting radishes – delicious!
Could you please tell me how to grow beans in pots? Thank you…