Easiest Vegetables to Grow

| 1/26/2011 9:43:35 AM

Easiest Vegetables to Grow AOEI’m ready to garden! What are the best crops for me to grow in my first garden?  

To guarantee the success of your first garden, stick with the easy vegetables listed here, which grow well in minimally improved soil. (Over time, you can improve your soil by adding organic fertilizers and compost.)

Begin planting your first garden in early spring, about four weeks before your average last frost. Locate information this information in Know When to Plant What: Find Your Average Last Spring Frost Date.

In early spring, kick off the season with these easy-to-grow vegetables and herbs:

  • Salad mix, aka mesclun, is a seed blend of lettuces and other salad-worthy greens. Buy two packets — one that’s mostly lettuce and another that includes mustards, kales or escaroles so you can learn how all these greens grow. Sow small patches of each mix, and then plant a little more a few weeks later. Save your leftover seed in the fridge and plant it in late summer for a lush fall crop.
  • Perennial herbs such as thyme and sage are easy to grow, and they come back each year. Purchase starts, which are grown from cuttings of superior varieties.
  • Potatoes grow from sprouting spuds, and you can grow only one or two plants and get good yields. In your first garden, try planting a few small, organic potatoes purchased at the store.

In late spring, plant these vegetables after your last frost has passed:

  • Bush or pole beans (collectively called green beans) are a top crop for any first garden because they adapt to a wide range of soil types.
  • Tomatoes are a garden favorite, but for your first year I suggest starting with only two types — a cherry, such as ‘Sweet 100’ or ‘Sun Gold,’ and a medium-sized slicing tomato, such as ‘Early Girl.’ Wait until next year, when your soil is better and you have some experience, to try large-fruited heirlooms.
  • Summer squash can be phenomenally productive, but put in at least three plants to ensure good pollination and fruit set.

In late summer, plant more mesclun and fill other vacant space with arugula or Japanese turnips — two underappreciated gourmet vegetables that will grow like gangbusters until cold weather brings your first garden to a close. Good luck!

Adie B
3/25/2011 7:50:35 PM

I like your list -- I'm just really surprised not to see radishes on the list! They grow FAST, and are really easy (they're always recommended for kids' gardens for those reasons!) They don't take up much space, and they give you a real mental boost because of the speed of them... they helped get me hooked on gardening!

Maria Barker
3/25/2011 5:18:10 PM

Truly easy vegetables? Dandelion and plantain never, ever, EVER fails. Daylilies are easier than potatoes and you don't have the virus issues. Rhubarb also does not fail. Jerusalem artichokes grow wild here and never fails. Keep the squash, yes, but plant corn in your squash patch. Tomatoes are cheap or free when everyone is producing them, so I would not mess with them if easy is your goal. Stick to something you can plant as a seed or tuber outside in your garden at first. As for beans, choose a variety that makes good shell beans and dried beans. That way, if you misjudge the harvesting time, the crop is not wasted because some green beans are just no good at all if you let them get a bit too old. If you make a mistake it is good to know you can wait a bit and get shell beans, or let them dry completely and you have good, easily stored food for winter.

Mike Lieberman
1/27/2011 10:28:54 AM

Greens are what I always recommend when people ask. Besides being easy to grow, they are the veggies that people will most likely use as well.

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