Sometimes, you just don’t want to wait for your veggies to grow. If you’re growing indoors, or in a greenhouse with limited space, this is can be especially true. Sometimes, you just want to maximize your garden by growing fast veggies first and then planting slower growing ones afterward.
“Fast growing” is a subjective term, of course. How fast is fast? For the purposes of this article, “fast growing” means it takes 60 days or less to bear ripe fruit.
Reasons to Grow Fast Growing Vegetables
As stated, fast growing vegetables are a great way to maximize your yields. Many greenhouse growers stick with faster growing vegetables in order to get as many crops as possible in one year. A greenhouse is much more expensive to maintain, per square foot of growing space, than an outdoor garden is, so getting the most “bang for your buck” is important.
Finally, if you have a limited season (perhaps you live in a colder growing zone like Zone 3 through 5), then you can help maximize your garden’s output by growing fast-growing vegetables first or last to get more crops in the same amount of time.
Whatever your reason, it’s easy to choose varieties and get them producing quickly.
Fastest Growing Garden Vegetables (40 days)
These are vegetables that can be ready in 40 days or less:
Some radish varieties will go from seed to mature plant in as little as three weeks, so you’ll get sharp tasting crunchy treats surprisingly quickly. If you really like radishes, you can keep your harvest constant through the growing season simply by succession planting. Learn more about growing radish.
Harvest mustard greens when they are young and tender. Cut the large outer leaves and leave the inner leaves to continue growing. They produce greens in 40 days. Learn more about how to grow mustard greens.
Loose-leaf lettuces are lettuces that don’t have a compact head. Like mustard greens you can cut the outside leaves while the inner ones continue to grow. Read more about growing loose-leaf lettuce here. It’s a good plant for beginners.
Spinach can reach maturity in just 40 days. Learn more about growing spinach. It can also be grown in cooler climates and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. If you sow spinach seeds every few weeks you can have a continuous supply.
Chives are also perennials so they will grow quickly and come back every year. You can learn more about growing chives here. Chives have the added benefit of having nice lavender and white blooms.
Fast Growing Garden Vegetables (60 days)
Vegetables ready in 60 days or less include:
Zucchini is a prolific and vegetable to grow in 45-55 days. Read more about growing zucchini here. They normally produce so much that you don’t even need to fertilize. Zucchini are warm weather plants.
As the name suggests, these vegetables produce fruit in the warmer months. This is another crop that is easy to grow and very productive. See more about how to plant and care for summer squash here. Zucchini is one variety of summer squash but there are four types.
Cucumbers are popular fast growing vegetables because they can also be grown in a container. Cucumbers can complete their growth in 50-70 days. Learn more about growing cucumbers. The taste of home-grown cucumbers vs. store bought will make you want to grow more.
Pease mature in 55-70 days and are usually easy to grow. They are a cool weather crop that prefers soil temperatures of around 45 degrees. You can learn more about how to grow peas here. Pea plants do need a constant supply of nitrogen, so they can’t be planted and forgotten.
Early cabbage can be ready for harvest in 60 days. It doesn’t have the dense center that regular cabbage develops. These are specific cabbages that are smaller and include these specific varieties: Copenhagen Market, Golden Acre, Early Dark Green Savoy, Early Jersey Wakefield, Marion Market, Emerald Cross Hybrid and Stonehead Hybrid. Learn more about growing early cabbage here.
Bush beans are also known as snap beans. This type of bean plant grows is a bush instead of up a pole. They are easy to grow but a bit more difficult to harvest than pole beans. Learn more about growing bush beans. These take 45-65 days to mature.
Kale is easy to grow. Read about growing kale. There are many different varieties of kale that grow at different speeds. The fastest growing are Blue Armor and Red Russian but almost all of them will be ready for harvest in 60 days.
Cauliflower is actually a cabbage, but not as easy to grow as regular cabbage. It will be ready to harvest in 50-70 days. See more about growing cauliflower here. This crop is very temperature sensitive.
Beets are a very cold hearty crop and they take a fair amount of watering. They also come in many varieties but most are ready for harvest between 55-70 days. Learn more about growing beets in this article.
Turnips come in many varieties. The “early” variety can be ready for harvest in just 5 weeks, but the other types can take 6 to 10 weeks. Read about planting and caring for turnips here.
Kohlrabi is more drought resistant than turnips and it can be harvested until December. This is another plant that is in the cabbage family. It can be ready for harvest in 50-65 days. Learn about growing Kohl Rabi.
These are great plants for beginners with the flavor of onions, but faster to grow. They can be ready for harvest in 60 days. You can read more about growing scallions here.
Collard greens are warm weather plants. They are ready for harvest in 60 days. The leaves can be picked at any point they reach an edible size. Read more about collard greens here.
Swiss chard can be ready to harvest in 4 to 6 weeks. It is a cut and come again plant. Learn more about planting and caring for Swiss Chard.
Broccoli can be grown in the fall because it can grow in cooler temperatures. Not all varieties mature in 60 days. These three types are fast growing: Flash, Umpqua and Gypsy. Read about planting broccoli.
Fast Growing Herbs
Also try growing herbs. Most herbs have a 45-60 day maturity window (with the exception of those harvested for seed), depending on variety, so you can try many of them to get great results. Basil and cilantro are fast growing herbs to try in your garden.
Gardening Tips for Fast Growing Vegetables
Some traditionally long-growing vegetables can be hurried along with a little pruning and nipping. Cucumbers can have their vines trained upwards and trimmed to keep them short (4 feet or so). When growing on a trellis, they usually get more sunlight and so mature faster and keeping the plant growth short hastens fruit bearing. This also works for squash. You can also keep creepers trimmed on strawberry plants to encourage fruiting.
Another popular choice are garbanzo beans (chick peas). These can be hastened with extra water and by trimming the bushes to keep them smaller.
Want to learn more about fast growing vegetables?
CC flickr photo courtesy of Kasia