10 Best Garden Crops for Beginners

Plan your first garden with these 10 easy crops that offer great cooking possibilities.

| December 2006

If you want to grow a garden next spring, it’s never too early to start planning. One of the best ways to “learn as you go” is to read the seed catalogs that many companies will send for free. One of our favorites, with lots of gardening advice and great color photos, is Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

If you’re a beginner, consider starting with the 10 crops discussed below. All are easy to grow, and this combination offers lots of possibilities for cooking. Some of these crops are best grown by setting out started seedlings, but most are easy to grow from a packet of seeds.

1. Radishes. Radishes do well even in not-so-great garden soil and are ready to harvest in only a few weeks. Plant the seeds in spring and fall.

2. Salad greens (lettuce, spinach, arugula and corn salad). Pick your favorite, or try a mix — many companies sell mixed packets for summer and winter gardening. Plant the seeds in spring and fall, and you can pick salads almost year-round.

3. Green beans. Easy to grow and prolific. If you get a big crop, they freeze well, and they’re also delicious when pickled as dilly beans. Start with seeds after all danger of frost has passed.

4. Onions. Start with small plants, and if they do well, you can harvest bulb onions. If not, you can always eat the greens.

9/12/2013 6:17:15 AM

When creating a raised bed for your spring garden use woodblocx to do it. See the best alternative to railway sleepers at

LUCI Dawson
4/10/2007 12:00:00 AM

For how to grow potatoes in straw, check out this recent post in the Whole Foods & Cooking section:

1/4/2007 12:00:00 AM

FJohnsonThis is a great way to grow potatoes. My small son and I did this a couple years ago, when I was pregnant and did not want to have to dig the potatoes. We put cages made of wire right on the ground, and dug a shallow hole in the ground under it to retain water(we did this in our hard-packed front yard). We put in the potatoes, straw, and a little manure. When harvest time came we just unhooked the wire and pushed over the pile. It was wonderfully easy. The only thing I will do differently next time is to get some root crop fertilizer. Plain manure really grows great tops. Ha Ha. Also, if it's windy you might have to put a sheet or something to keep them from drying out. I had no trouble at all covering them in severe cold weather, though. The wire cages are easy to pin plastic or old sheets to.Good Luck!

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