By Erin Marissa Russell
Ever wonder which vegetables are the most popular for home gardeners to grow? Turns out that there are a ton of different polls and surveys about the most popular vegetables most commonly grown by home gardeners. But because the surveys were given to different groups of gardeners at different time periods and areas of the country, they don’t always end up with the same “most popular” vegetables.
But we figured out a solution. To make sure that none of the popular vegetables will be left out, we looked at the results from all those different surveys and made them into one big master list so you can learn about all the vegetables that gardeners grow at home most often.
Although there are times in life when you should blaze a new trail, growing vegetables isn’t necessarily one of those times. Why not? Well, the most popular vegetables are grown most often because they’re tried and true. They’re popular for many reasons!
Gardeners love to grow these veggies because they’re easy to care for, deliver tasty results, and are top producing vegetables with high yields that make the work of gardening really pay off. The vegetables listed here are winners you should be growing in your garden, too. Keep reading to find out which vegetables are the most popular for home gardeners and to learn a little about each one.
Gardeners who grow beans have a few choices to make. First, they must decide whether to grow bush beans or pole beans. Then, they get to choose the variety of beans they’d like to grow from the variety of options available—there are so many to choose from.
Pole beans climb on a vine, so they’re an excellent choice for gardeners who don’t have a lot of room, as the space they’ll take up is mostly vertical. The harvest period for pole beans is around six to eight weeks.
Bush beans grow on plants that are about two feet tall, and their growing period is shorter than that of pole beans. However, they are known for producing a lot of beans during their short harvest period. Bush beans are a good choice for gardeners who like to bring in the whole crop in a short time and freeze, pickle, or can their harvest.
Next, you’ll need to choose where to plant your beans. Bean plants flourish most in spots that get full sun, which translates to at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. They prefer warm soil that drains well. If you’re growing pole beans (also called vine beans or climbing beans), they’ll need a trellis or stakes nearby to give them some support.
Beans should be planted after the danger of frost has passed and once the soil has reached at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They do their best when the soil is even warmer, between 60 and 80 degrees. Bush beans should be sown with two to three inches between them, in rows between two feet and three feet apart. Pole beans can be planted either in rows or in hills, giving plants six to 10 inches of space between them in rows between three and four feet apart.
Click here to learn more about how to grow bush beans and climbing beans.
As a cool season crop, broccoli can either be planted in the spring or, in areas with mild winters, it can also be grown in the fall. It performs best when temperatures hover between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. To harvest your broccoli in the middle of summer, start your plants indoors six to eight weeks before your last frost date. For a winter harvest, start broccoli plants in the fall.
You’ll want to time your broccoli crop so that harvest time happens when temperatures don’t exceed 75 degrees. Broccoli plants mature in 55 to 85 days when grown from transplants or 70 to 100 days when grown from seeds.
Choose a fertile spot for your broccoli plants to grow. Broccoli prefers rich soil that is moist but drains well, with soil that’s slightly acidic and has a pH level between 6 and 7. Your broccoli plants will also need six to eight hours of sun each day, so choose a spot that gets full sun as well. Ideally, broccoli should be grown in a spot that hasn’t had brassica plants grown in it for the past four years.
When broccoli plants are moved from their first home indoors out into the garden, they’ll need to be hardened off so they get used to the outdoor weather gradually. You can learn more about hardening off in this article. Broccoli seedlings should be transplanted into the garden when they’re between four and six weeks old.
Cabbage is another cool-weather crop. It can be grown in spring for an early summer harvest or started in midsummer for an autumn harvest. Cabbage really thrives in regions that have a long, cool growing season with temperatures that stay between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, cabbage plants are quite cold hardy and can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees.
Most gardeners start cabbage plants indoors and transplant them into the garden in about four to six weeks. You’ll know cabbage seedlings are ready to be transplanted when they’re between three and four inches tall. As an alternative, you can sow them directly into your garden beds when soil can be worked in the spring.
Cabbage grows best in firm, well-draining soil that’s rich in nitrogen and organic material. This vegetable prefers a soil pH level between 6.5 and 6.8. Many gardeners add rotten manure or well-aged compost when they transplant their cabbage and side dress cabbage crops with compost halfway through their growth period.
Click here to learn more about how to grow cabbage.
Carrots grow best in the cooler parts of the spring and fall seasons. Carrots are cold hardy and can even tolerate frost. They take between two and four months to go from planting to harvest. You can enjoy a continuous harvest of carrots by planting a new batch every three weeks.
Choose a location for your carrots that has loose, sandy soil that won’t interfere with the development of the underground roots. Soil preparation is vital to a successful carrot crop. Till the top 12 inches of soil where carrots will grow, and remove rocks or branches as well as breaking up clumps of soil so there’s nothing to impede the carrots’ development. Carrots also need to get plenty of sunlight. They do best in full sun (at least six hours of sunlight per day), although they can tolerate partial shade if needed.
Sow carrots directly into the garden bed or the containers where you’ll be growing them three to five weeks before the last frost of spring. Seeds should be planted a quarter of an inch deep. Space your carrot plants three to four inches apart in rows that have one foot of space between them. Top the area where carrots are planted with a layer of vermiculite or fine compost to prevent a crust from forming over the soil, as a crust will keep carrot seeds from germinating.
Cauliflower is another cool-season vegetable that can either be grown in the spring or in the fall. It does best when the weather will be mild, as cauliflower doesn’t tolerate too much heat or too much cold—healthy cauliflower plants require the weather to remain between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, it can be a bit of a challenge for beginning gardeners.
To thrive, cauliflower needs the soil where it grows to be very rich. It’s best to amend your soil where cauliflowers will grow with manure or compost before planting the cauliflower. You’ll also need to feed cauliflower plants with a 5-10-10 fertilizer blend, following the manufacturer’s directions for dosage amount and frequency. Apply a mulch over the surface of the soil to help it retain moisture. Cauliflower loves sun, so make sure to choose a spot that will get at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
To maximize your chances of success, start out with young cauliflower plants from the nursery instead of planting cauliflower seeds. Plant your young cauliflower plants in the garden two to four weeks before the last frost date of spring. For a fall harvest, plant cauliflower six to eight weeks before the first frost date in the fall. However, daytime temperatures will need to stay below 75 degrees once cauliflower is planted.
Cauliflower plants should be positioned with 18 to 24 inches of space between them, in rows 30 inches apart. If frost strikes, cover your cauliflower plants with milk jugs that have the bottom sliced off to protect them from the cold.
Click here to learn more about how to grow cauliflower.
Gardeners get to choose between vining cucumber varieties and bush cucumber varieties. Vining cucumbers are known for growing quickly and producing an abundant harvest. They perform their best when provided with a trellis or fence nearby to give them a vertical space where they can climb. Bush cucumbers do not climb, making them a good choice for container gardens. Cucumbers can be planted every two weeks, allowing gardeners to enjoy a continuous harvest.
Cucumbers are tropical plants that thrive in warm, wet conditions. They love getting lots of sun and lots of water. Make sure the spot you choose for your cucumbers gives them full sun (at least six hours of direct sunlight per day) and fertile, moist soil that drains well. Cucumbers prefer soil that is neutral to slightly acidic, with a pH level between 6.5 and 7.0. For best results, prep the soil by mixing in compost or aged manure to a depth of six to eight inches.
Because cucumbers love warmth and don’t do well in cold weather, wait to plant them until the soil outside is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit, no earlier than two weeks after the last frost of spring. Seeds should be planted an inch deep and positioned in rows with two to three feet of space between them. Alternatively, you can grow cucumbers in hills one or two feet apart with two to three seeds each, which should be thinned to one plant per hill when seedlings reach four inches tall. Plant positioning does vary depending on the type of cucumber you are growing. Check the seed packet or plant label for information specific to your cucumber plants.
Click here to learn more about how to grow cucumbers, or you can find out how to grow cucumbers vertically [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-cucumbers-vertically/] or how to grow cucumbers in pots.
Green beans are a family favorite on the dinner table, so it makes sense that they’d be popular in the garden, too. They can be planted in spring once the danger of frost is over, or you can plant them in the fall 10 to 12 weeks before the first anticipated frost of the season. Green beans are available in both bush bean and pole bean varieties. Unless your region has extremely hot weather, you can plant green beans every two weeks to enjoy a continuous harvest that lasts until early August or so.
Green beans grow their best in soil that drains well when provided with plenty of sun. Prep the area where you’ll plant green beans by tilling the soil to a depth of eight to 10 inches, then raking the soil several times to break up any clods or clumps that may be present.
If you’re growing a bush type of green beans, seeds should be planted an inch deep and positioned with one to two inches of space between them in rows between two and a half and three feet apart. Pole bean types of green beans should be planted in hills that have three feet of space between them, with the hills set up in rows three to four feet apart. Insert a six- to eight-foot stake in the middle of each hill so the beans have something to climb. Then plant three to four seeds around the stake, about an inch deep.
There are so many varieties of leafy greens to choose from, and all of them are easy to grow. Not to mention, these vegetables are ridiculously good for you. These veggies offer the most nutrition per square foot of any crop you can grow. Many leafy greens will tolerate cool temperatures, even tasting better when they experience a bit of frost, and most varieties can be grown both in the spring and in the fall.
All types of leafy greens are “cut and come again” vegetables, which means gardeners simply trim off the leaves they need from the outside base of the plant, and the plant continues to generate new leaves so there are more to pick when it’s time to harvest them again. They are also quick to mature, taking just 30 to 60 days to go from seed to harvest-ready greens.
To plant greens in springtime, sow your seeds three to four weeks before the last frost of the spring, as soon as you can work the ground outside. As an alternative, you can start seeds indoors and transplant them into the garden when they’re three or four weeks old. For a fall crop of greens, add up your days to maturity (varies by plant type) plus 10 to 14 days, and use the total to calculate when to plant your seeds. Simply subtract the total you got from the first expected frost date of the fall. You can use transplants in the fall if you like, starting them indoors and moving outside after three or four weeks.
Because leafy greens tend to be shallow-rooted, they do not need extremely rich soil, but you will need to provide them with a consistent water supply and plenty of sunshine. Set up your leafy greens to grow with four inches of space between plants, positioned in rows between eight and 12 inches apart. Fortify soil with well aged manure, compost, or fertilizer when planting or transplanting greens.
Learn more about how to grow your favorite leafy greens at these links. Click here to learn more about how to grow kale, or find out how to grow collard greens, how to grow microgreens, how to grow spinach, how to grow arugula, or how to grow Swiss chard.
Yes, maybe it’s also a leafy green, but we felt it also needed separate coverage because lettuce itself is such a popular plant to grow and because there’s a lot to know about it. Lettuce plants come in four varieties: loose leaf, butterhead, crisphead, and Romaine (also called cos). Leaf lettuces are widely considered the easiest to grow and least likely to bolt. They don’t create a tight, dense head like the other varieties do, so leaf lettuce is a cut and come again crop like the leafy greens we discussed above. Most types of leaf lettuce mature in just 40 to 45 days.
Butterhead varieties form loose heads and have leaves that are tender and soft, with a buttery flavor. They mature in anywhere between 35 to 70 days. Romaine or cos lettuces are more upright in shape, reaching up to a foot high. They have crisp leaves and are ready to harvest in 70 to 85 days. Crisphead lettuces are the most difficult to grow and have the lowest nutrition of all lettuce varieties. Iceberg is the most well-known type of crisphead lettuce. These lettuces have less heat tolerance than other types and mature in around 80 days.
Many gardeners can grow lettuce all year round, but lettuce plants really thrive when the weather stays between 45 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For best results, sow in early spring as soon as you can work in the ground outside. Lettuce plants also grow quite well indoors in a sunny windowsill.
Choose a spot for your lettuce that gets full sun, although plants may need plenty of shade to thrive in the heat of summer. Your lettuce bed should be in a location that has loose, cool soil that drains very well. Till the ground so soil is loose and there are no clods, clumps, or stones to prevent germination.
Space the tiny seeds as recommended for the lettuce variety, but if some stray seeds come up, you can always eat them as microgreens when you thin them out. Leaf, butterhead, and romaine lettuces should be spaced eight inches apart, and crisphead lettuces should be positioned with 10 to 12 inches of space between plants. Cover with a very thin, fine layer of soil and press it down with the palm of your hand to make sure seeds stay put. If you plant lettuce every 10 to 14 days, you can enjoy a continuous harvest.
Click here to learn how to grow Romaine lettuce, or find out how to grow butter lettuce, check out our general article on how to grow other kinds of lettuce, or read about how you can grow lettuce all year long.
Everyone loves a little spice, and when you grow your own peppers, you’ll have plenty to add to your favorite dishes—not to mention the possibility of homemade salsa. Seeds can be difficult even for experienced gardeners to start with, so make things easy on yourself and pick up some young hot pepper plants from the nursery. Just a couple of plants will give you plenty of peppers for your whole family to enjoy all season long.
Wait until two weeks after your last frost date in spring to move pepper plants into the garden (if you started seeds indoors and are transplanting) or to plant your seeds directly into the ground. Peppers are a distinctly warm-weather crop, and if temperatures get close to freezing, your plants could be damaged. Choose a spot where your pepper plants will get at least six hours of direct sunlight per day and the soil is a sandy loam that drains well and is rich in organic material.
Space your pepper plants two to three feet apart so they have plenty of room to grow. If you’re growing peppers in a container, you’ll want to use one that holds at least five gallons of soil so there’s enough room for the root systems of your plants.
Pepper plants do well when lime or bone meal is added to the soil where they will grow. You should also use a fertilizer when transplanting young plants into the garden, and mulch to prevent weeds from stealing resources from your pepper plants. As the season progresses, sprinkle the area where peppers are growing with bone meal every four weeks, increasing frequency to every two weeks once plants are flowering and fruiting.
Click here to learn about how to grow tabasco peppers, or you can find out how to grow cayenne peppers, how to grow ghost peppers, how to grow serrano peppers, how to grow paprika peppers, how to grow habanero peppers, how to grow jalapeno peppers, or how to grow peppers in containers.
Gardeners growing peas can choose between three different types: English peas (also called shelling peas or garden peas), snap peas, and snow peas (sometimes referred to as sugar peas). Some peas are vining types, sometimes called telephone or tall peas, which will need a trellis or stake between two and eight feet tall for them to climb. The rest are bush types, sometimes called dwarf types, which grow between 16 and 30 inches tall.
English peas are the most popular variety. Only the peas are eaten when it comes to English peas, not the pod outside. Snow peas have thin, flat pods and are ready to pick when the peas inside are still small, so this type of pea is eaten whole, pod and all. They are most commonly found in Asian cuisine. Snap peas are similar to snow peas, but they are harvested when the peas inside have gotten bigger than they are with snow peas. They are still eaten whole, with the ends snapped off before cooking.
Peas have a short growing season and must be planted early enough in the spring to give them time to mature before the weather heats up. Peas aren’t at their best when temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperatures above 80 degrees will ruin them or stop their growth. Plant peas as early in spring as you can work the ground and once the soil reaches 45 degrees, regardless of the weather forecasts that lie ahead, unless temperatures will be in the teens, which is colder than peas can tolerate. For most gardeners in the United States and Canada, pea planting time will be in February, March, or April. In warm areas of the U.S., they can be grown in the fall or winter as well. This round of peas should be planted six to eight weeks before the first forecasted frost of the fall.
Choose a location for your pea plants that offers full sun (at least six hours of direct sunlight each day). The plants can tolerate partial shade, but they won’t produce as many peas, nor will their peas be as sweet as if you planted in a sunny spot. Well draining soil is a non-negotiable requirement for pea plants. If your ground stays wet, consider raising the beds where you will plant peas by six to eight inches to improve drainage. Peas thrive in soil with a pH level between 6 and 7.5.
For optimal germination rates, soak your peas overnight before you plant them. Set them up with two inches of space between seeds, planted one inch deep, in rows that are 12 to 24 inches apart. Rotate crops and plant peas in a new location every one or two years to avoid diseases that spread via the soil.
Click here to learn more about how to grow peas.
Summer Squash and Zucchini
Summer squashes include tasty varieties like crooknecks, straightneck yellow squashes, and pattypan squashes. And although we usually think of them as a separate vegetable, zucchini are actually a variety of summer squash, too. They’re prolific plants, sometimes producing several squash each day—so just one or two squash plants may generate plenty of squash for your family’s needs.
Summer squash are harvested before they’re completely mature, while the skin is still thin and therefore edible. Some summer squash plants are vining and will need a good bit of room, but many are available as bush plants that can grow eight to 12 inches apart.
Your squash should be grown in a location that gets full sun (at least six hours of direct sunlight each day). They’ll also need some sort of shelter from windy weather and rich soil that drains well. Because squash plants need lots of nutrients, you should amend your soil with compost or well rotted manure before you plant them.
Wait to sow squash until at least a week after your last frost of the spring, and for the soil two inches below the surface to warm up to at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Then sow the seeds right into the garden, at a depth of one inch. Alternatively, you can start them indoors two to four weeks before the last frost of the spring. Gardeners in cold areas should protect freshly planted squash with a cold frame, a jar, or half a plastic bottle. Another option is to plant your squash with three to four seeds per hill, with hills spaced five to six feet apart.
Corn is a warm-weather crop that is available with yellow, white, or bi-colored kernels. Gardeners who want to grow corn will need to live in a region that offers a long growing season free from frost. Plant your corn as soon as you can so you get a long growing season, as missing the optimal harvest date will reduce in a degradation of your corn’s flavor.
Choose a location for your corn that offers plenty of sunlight (at least six hours of direct sunlight each day). Corn plants can perform well in all kinds of soil, but they really prefer well draining soil that has a pH level between 5.5 and 7.0, and those areas are where they will perform best. Growing corn in sandy soil or soil with a low pH can result in a magnesium deficiency.
Prep the soil where you will plant your corn by removing debris and weeds, then loosen the top eight to 10 inches. Apply a 10-10-10 fertilizer blend at two to three pounds per 100 square feet, and work the fertilizer into the top three or four inches of soil.
Plant your corn once the soil has warmed up and frost is no longer in the forecast, usually about two weeks after the final frost date of the spring. For maximum pollination, grow in several short rows instead of one or two longer rows. Seeds should be positioned three to four inches apart in rows with two and a half to three feet of space between them. When plants have grown larger, thin them to one plant every foot.
Click here to learn more about how to grow sweet corn.
Tomatoes are the quintessential home gardening crop because they’re so rewarding. A homegrown tomato and a store bought hothouse tomato may as well not even be related, the taste and experience are so different. If you’ve never tasted a tomato grown in a home garden, now’s the time.
As a warm-season crop, tomato plants do not tolerate frost whatsoever. Most gardeners start their tomato seeds indoors five or six weeks before the last frost of the spring. You can also purchase young tomato plants to move into your garden once the temperature stays above 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night. If you move your plants from indoors to outdoors, you’ll need to harden them off so they are exposed to the outdoor weather gradually.
Tomato plants need full sun, and in northern areas especially, it’s vital for them to get at least six hours of sunshine per day. In the south, some light shade in the afternoons will go a long way toward protecting your tomato plants from the heat. While tomatoes will grow in a variety of soil types, they do require soil that drains well and do best in slightly acidic soils, where the pH is between 6.2 and 6.8.
Small bush varieties of tomatoes or larger staked plants should be set up with two feet of space between them. Unstaked large tomato plants will need three to four feet of space between them. Tomato plantss should be positioned in rows at least four feet apart.
Click here to learn more about how to grow tomatoes, or find out how to grow celebrity tomatoes, how to grow Roma tomatoes, how to grow beefsteak tomatoes, how to grow Juliet tomatoes, how to grow Better Boy tomatoes, how to grow Early Girl tomatoes, how to grow Brandywine tomatoes, how to grow Cherokee Purple tomatoes, how to grow Lemon Boy tomatoes, how to grow Yellow Pear tomatoes, how to grow grape tomatoes, or how to grow cherry tomatoes.
You can also learn about different ways to grow tomatoes, such as how to grow tomatoes from cuttings, how to grow tomatoes in an upside-down garden, how to grow patio tomatoes, how to grow tomatoes in hanging baskets, which are the best tomato varieties for container gardens, which are the best cherry tomato varieties to grow in pots, how to grow tomatoes in a five-gallon bucket or how to grow tomatoes in other types of containers.
Winter squashes offer more nutrition than their summer-growing cousins, and because they are allowed to mature for longer, the soil is usually not edible. Commonly grown varieties of winter squash that gardeners can choose from include acorn squash, banana squash, butternut squash, cushaw squash, delicious squash, Hubbard squash, spaghetti squash, and Turk’s turban squash.
Choose a spot to grow your summer squash that gets full sun (at least six hours of sunlight per day). They also need soil that is loose, drains well, and is rich in organic material. Get soil ready for squash plants by working in aged compost and aged manure in the fall before your spring planting. Ideally, the soil where you grow squash should have a pH level between 5.5 and 6.8.
Although they’re called “winter” squash, these plants are frost-tender and do not tolerate the cold well. Plant your winter squash only after the ground outside has warmed up to at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Make hills, and plant four to six seeds in each hill. You’ll eventually thin the plants out so only one or two plants per hill remain. Set your plants up four feet apart, in rows with six feet of space between them.
Gardeners in northern regions who have shorter growing seasons should start their winter squash plants indoors three weeks before the last frost of the spring. Then once the ground is at least 70 degrees, move the plants into the garden.
Click here to learn more about how to grow winter squash.
After reading this article, you should have a pretty good idea about which of the most popular vegetables for home gardeners will work in your garden.
There are so many commonly grown vegetables to choose from, there are bound to be several that will be a good fit for your climate and the soil you have available. Once you plant these vegetables, you’ll understand exactly why they’re so popular among gardeners.
Which are your favorites to grow? Leave a comment and let everyone know!