In theory, growing vegetables should be pretty easy. Put your seeds in the ground, water them, and a week later you have adorable little sprouts. 60 or so days later you’re sitting at your table enjoying a spinach salad, sweet summer squash, and planning to make pickles from your abundance of cucumbers. But…
Let’s face it. Some of us need easy veggies to grow. We forget to water them. We plant them too close together. We aren’t sure what weeds look like, so we don’t pull them. I remember the first time I tried to grow spinach and watched a promising harvest fade before my eyes, not knowing what went wrong.
There’s something to be said for starting out with easy veggies to grow. They help you feel successful and it doesn’t hurt that the rewards from your work are darn tasty. So which veggies would those be?
Super easy veggies to grow in your garden – even if you don’t know what you’re doing
- Peas. There are good reasons that peas are so often the vegetable of choice for teaching children about plants. Peas prefer early spring weather, and young peas can survive a light frost. They can be relatively safe from disease and insects (except for aphids), and they will tolerate most types of soil. Plus, pea greens are delicious, so you can get a lot of enjoyment from this plant.
- Beans. Beans are another classroom favorite, and many varieties of beans are easy veggies to grow. Lima beans, green snap beans (formerly known as string beans), yellow wax beans – the list goes on. Pole bean varieties do need a support trellis of some type, but this is a plant that grows quickly and can produce a lot.
- Cherry Tomatoes. I don’t care where you go grocery shopping, there isn’t a tomato out there that’s better than one you get from your own garden. Cherry tomatoes make a great container vegetable, and one plant can produce dozens of delicious tomatoes. What’s more, you can usually find these already potted and growing with a nice little support built into the container. If you’re looking for easy veggies to grow on a patio or in a small space, cherry tomatoes are pretty easy if you make sure they stay watered.
- Cucumbers. First, the caveat. Cucumbers do take a little work in terms of setup. They like a nice, sunny spot and a trellis to climb, but after that? Get your plans together to make pickles because you will have more cukes than you know what to do with.
- Zucchini. Want to know how hard it is to kill a zucchini? I put six seeds in the ground near my house, not really expecting much. A few days later, just as they were starting to sprout, someone with big heavy work boots stepped all over that part of the garden (which, admittedly, wasn’t well-marked yet). Three of the plants survived. So you can literally walk all over your zucchini and it will still grow and produce fruit. And you can eat the flowers!
- Squash. Squash comes in a multitude of varieties and it’s quite prolific. Squash also happens to grow well with beans, peas, and the deliciously edible flower, the nasturtium. Just give it lots of room or a trellis, because most varieties will walk all over your garden.
- Kale. Kale is super-nutritious, and it’s incredibly versatile in the kitchen. You can use kale in smoothies, salads, soups and stews, as a side, and you can even make kale chips. It grows easily in the spring and early summer, and if you live in the southern U.S., you can grow an additional crop in the fall.
- Lettuce. Lettuce can grow almost anywhere, and it happens to grow especially well in that shady spot in your garden. You can harvest leaf lettuce early and often, too.
- Garlic. If you have a sunny spot that stays relatively dry in the winter, garlic is as easy as it gets. Plant garlic cloves (pointed end up) in the fall, come back and harvest them in the summer. And you can use the garlic scapes (stalks) in your cooking even before the garlic bulbs are ready.
- Basil. I know. The first thing you thought when you saw this was that this is supposed to be about easy veggies to grow, and basil is an herb. Here’s the thing. The real beauty of a garden is that you can walk to your backyard and harvest dinner. As tasty as those cherry tomatoes are, they really come to life when you add basil to them. Making a cold cucumber soup? Basil goes with that, too. And once your basil is established, and not overwatered, it will grow into a bush and produce leaves all summer long, and even into the fall.
It’s true that there are plenty of not-so-easy veggies to grow, but these ten don’t take a lot of work, and they are rather forgiving of unpredictable weather and gardening mistakes.
What veggies have you had luck with as a beginning gardener? Would you add something to this list? I’d love to read your ideas in the comments.