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We often get asked… What are the easiest vegetables to grow for beginners? Whether you’re a beginner gardener starting a small container garden on the patio or planting in the ground, you’re sure to find use in the following list. Some of these vegetables are best grown from seed, others can be purchased as seedlings from a local nursery but they’re all easy to grow.
Leaf Lettuce: Easiest Vegetables To Grow In Containers
Leaf Lettuce In The Garden
Leaf lettuce is by far one of the easiest veggies to grow. It can be started from seed. Leaf lettuce can be harvested multiple times. They can easily be grown in containers; in fact, we prefer to grow leaf lettuce in containers. As with a lot of garden greens the leaf lettuce will prefer cooler weather and does best in temperatures between 45-65F. Once the summer heat hits the lettuce will start to bolt (flower) and get bitter. We’ve found that moving the containers into mostly shaded, but bright areas, when the temps rise will prolong the growing time and delay bolting.
Planting Leaf Lettuce
The best way to start leaf lettuce is from seed. Mesclun mix is popular and includes green and red leaf lettuce varieties. Starting from seed allows you to plant more densely than using seedlings from a nursery. Leaf lettuce has fairly shallow roots so depth isn’t as important as the surface area of the container you use. Something 6-8″ deep should suffice but a depth of 12″ would be more ideal. Prepare a container with high quality potting soil. Moisten the soil well then scatter the seeds on the surface to a density of about a quarter inch between them. Lightly press the seeds into the soil surface, then cover with a 1/4″ of soil. Be sure and keep the seeds moist until they sprout, which is usually within a few days but may take a week.
Easy to Grow, Early Harvest
Radishes are one of the first things we plant every season. They are very cold hearty. The seeds should be sown 4-6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. They are great eaten fresh or pickled. We love pickled radishes on our fish tacos. Cherry Belle is our favorite type to grow but there are many varieties of radishes.
Radish seeds are large and easy to plant. They do not transplant well and should be direct sown in ground or raised beds. Make sure the soil is loose with root vegetables. Although radishes do grow close to the surface, they do send down roots. Make a shallow trench with your finger, usually only about a 1/2″ deep. Deposit the seeds in the trench spacing them 2-3 inches apart, this leaves enough space for the radish root to develop below the soil without crowding the above ground foliage. Cover the seeds with soil and keep the soil moist until germination. Most radishes can be harvested in 4-6 weeks.
Beets: Easy To Grow
Great All-Season Vegetable
Beets are one of the easiest vegetables to grow for beginners. Beet seeds are sown the same way as radishes (see above) but are more heat tolerant. Plant in any season. The cool season vegetables like lettuce can be replaced for a summer planting of beets. Not only can you eat the beet root but the green tops are also delicious used in salads. The flavor of the greens is similar to their cousin Swiss Chard. Of note, the beet seeds have a thick shell. It is imperative to keep the seeds moist to soften that thick shell until they can germinate. Single beet seeds are actually 4 or more seeds joined you will need to thin them out. Wait until the sprouts are 1″ tall, choose the strongest sprout from each seed and cull any others. Plant at a density of about 9 per square foot.
Multiple Uses For This Easy To Grow Vegetable
The choice you’ll need to make when growing cucumbers is whether you’ll be using them in salads or making whole or sliced pickles. There are varieties more suitable for each of these intended uses. A good all-around cucumber variety is the Straight Eight.
Sowing and Growing Cucumbers
Cucumbers are a warm weather crop and should not be transplanted into the garden until the soil temperatures are consistently above 50F. Although the seeds can be sowed directly in the garden you will benefit from starting them indoors about 4-6 weeks before transplant time. Use 4″ pots to start seeds which should be planted at a depth of one inch. To save space when growing cucumbers, train them up a cucumber trellis. The spacing in the garden should be 18″ between plants if using a trellis. If you intend on letting them sprawl on the ground, space them about 3′ apart. TIP: Grow leafy greens or other cool weather crops in the shade of the cucumber trellis.
Pole or Bush Beans?
Beans are a great addition to any garden and definitely one of the easiest vegetables to grow for beginners. They are really easy to grow. There are beans that grow in a bush form or a vining (pole) type. Bush bean plants usually stay under 24″ tall and all beans are ready to harvest at the same time. Pole beans will continue to grow and produce beans throughout the season. Harvesting pole beans as they mature promotes production of more beans.
How To Start Bean Seeds
Bean plants won’t transplant well so you’ll need to sow them directly in the garden. Beans are a summer vegetable and should not be sown until after the last frost date. The planting depth of bean seeds is about one inch. Bush beans can be spaced 4″ apart. Pole beans can be spaced 2″ apart but must be provided with a trellis at least 6′ tall. Our favorite beans to grow are the Kentucky Wonder, a highly productive pole bean. We like to harvest the Kentucky Wonder beans when tender and mostly flat before the beans swell and round out.
Determinate or Indeterminate
Tomatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow for beginners but something you’ll need to consider is whether you want to grow a determinate or indeterminate variety. You can think of these classes similar to the bean choices, bush or pole. Determinate tomatoes grow in a bush and can be caged, indeterminate require a 6′ stake or trellis. The fruit of determinate tomatoes plant will all ripen at the same time, great if you intend on canning or making sauce. Indeterminate tomatoes will grow and ripen a few at a time as the plant grows up the trellis, good for slicing or salads.
Starting Tomato Plants From Seed
Tomato plants are a summer vegetable that will be killed by frost. Tomato plants should be started indoors under artificial lighting 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Seeds should be sown 1/4″ deep in high quality potting soil. Use seed cells for starting and transplant up to 4″ pots once the seedlings have a few sets of leaves. Make sure to provide a well balance fertilizer once the seedlings are about 2 weeks old.
Peppers: Easiest Vegetables To Grow For Beginners
Spice Up Your Life
Hot pepper varieties are easier to grow than the sweet Bell peppers. The heat level of peppers can range from mild to face scorching depending on the variety. Peppers such as Gong Bao, Thai Dragon, Golden Cayenne, or Gochugaru are best for culinary uses and are highly productive plants. Other varieties such as Habanero, Scotch Bonnet, or Ghost Peppers are better for making some fiery hot sauce. We love growing peppers and the colorful chilis add nice visual appeal to the garden.
Starting Pepper Seeds
Pepper seeds are best started indoors 10-12 weeks before the last frost date. This is important since many areas have a short growing season and most pepper a native to tropical climates. If you don’t get your pepper plants started early enough your harvest will be reduced as some varieties can take a long time to mature. You can see full instructions on our blog page about starting pepper plants indoors.