Easy to grow vegetables suitable for a fuss-free garden or the beginner gardener. Includes ten different vegetables, recommended varieties, and basic growing instructions.
Every gardener asks themselves the same question each spring – what am I going to grow this year? For seasoned gardeners, tried and tested veg and varieties will feature on the menu. Adventurous growers will have been scouring seed catalogs all winter and have a few unusual edibles to try out. Some people are just a little unsure. If you’re starting your first garden or need a little inspiration, I hope that these easy to grow vegetables will help.
Before you choose to grow anything, though, consider what you and those in your household like to eat. If no one likes turnips, it might not be worth growing them despite how easy it is to get a crop. Another thing that beginner gardeners overlook is choosing varieties for their climate and growing space. If you’re limited to growing in containers, choose types that have smaller growing habits. If your garden is windy, grow compact varieties. That’s the reason that I prefer growing dwarf ‘Meteor’ peas, opposed to taller traditional types.
The below easy to grow vegetables are ones that food gardeners, whatever their level, will grow. However, they’re types that are quicker to produce, require less work, are more resilient, or are less affected by pests or disease.
Pumpkins are very simple to grow and require little maintenance (especially following these tips). Sow seeds undercover in pots in mid-spring and plant out into their final growing position once the risk of frosts has passed. The plants will spread over the ground and produce several fruits per plant. They need to be watered in hot weather and could benefit from a fortnightly feed during mid-summer.
Once the plant starts to die off, cut off the pumpkin but make sure to leave part of the stalk attached. Extra pumpkin growing tips include raising the pumpkin off the surface at the end of summer to prevent rotting and leaving it sitting for a few days after harvesting for the skin to harden in the sun.
Recommended varieties: Pumpkin Big Max, Squash Uchiki Kiri
Radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow, and you can sow them successionally throughout the year for a steady harvest. Incredibly, they can go from sowing to harvest in as little as a month. Because they grow very quickly, their soil needs to be kept moist at all times. They’re likely to bolt without consistent watering, meaning that the root will become hard, woody, and practically inedible. Also, harvest radishes when they’re young since the larger they get, the woodier they become.
Radishes are best sown directly into the soil once the ground has warmed up. Sow seeds around 1-inch apart or thin as required to that spacing. As soon as you see plump roots poking out of the ground, pull a couple and see if they’re ready. Most radishes are the smallish red types that you eat whole and slice up for salads, and these are the type that is easy to grow. There are much larger and slower-growing winter varieties of radish, too, though. You sow these types from July onwards and harvest them in autumn and winter.
Recommended Varieties: French Breakfast, Scarlet Globe
First Early Potatoes
Potatoes are a garden staple and one of the most commonly grown vegetables. They are very simple to grow, but the types classed as earlies are the easiest to grow. That’s because first early potatoes need 8-10 weeks to produce a harvest, and second earlies 10-12 weeks. Their shorter growing time means that they can avoid blight and pest damage.
To grow early potatoes, buy seed potatoes and begin chitting them in late winter. Chitting involves standing them in a bright frost-free place to allow them to start producing shoots. Though it doesn’t speed up the harvest of maincrop potatoes, it does with early potatoes. Next, plant them outdoors in late March to April, around 12 inches apart and five inches deep. When you see the first green leaves, earth the plants up, meaning cover them completely with soil or compost. This protects the foliage from late frost, and the leaves will continue to grow right on through.
You can count the weeks it takes to harvest, but sometimes they’re ready a little before or a little after that time. These are the signs to look for to know when potatoes are ready to dig up.
Recommended early potatoes: Lady Christl, Red Duke of York, Sharpes Express
There are many different varieties of lettuce to try, and all are easy to grow. There is a range of leaves, textures, flavors, and colors, with some forming a central head and others loose-leaf. Loose-leaf types are great to grow as cut-and-come-again lettuce to get several harvests from one sowing.
Lettuce can be grown in the ground, in pots, or on windowsills. Though they prefer a sunny place, they can also tolerate a bit of shade. Sow outdoors from March onwards to get a crop throughout the summer and make regular sowings to ensure an extended supply of leaves. Sow seeds thinly around a quarter-an-inch deep in rows and thin seedlings until they are 12 inches apart. Water regularly during warm and dry periods to avoid bolting. To harvest, either cut at the base when a firm heart has formed or remove leaves from loose-leaf varieties as required.
Recommended varieties: Salad Bowl (loose-leaf), All the Year Round (butterhead), Little Gem (cos/small hearting variety)
Garlic is a hugely popular crop to grow and requires very little maintenance once planted. There are two varieties, hard neck and soft neck, with many different types of each. Plant individual cloves in autumn or early spring, so the tip of the clove is one-inch below the soil surface. Plant cloves around six inches apart in a grid or in double rows. Green leaves will sprout and grow over the coming months, and the garlic is ready to harvest once the two bottom leaves have turned yellow.
Lift the bulb with a fork and lay them out somewhere with good air circulation to dry. You can store the bulbs for several months at room temperature, which is why you often see garlic braided and hung in kitchens. For further growing information, including the differences between hard neck and soft neck garlic, check out these tips.
Recommended varieties (UK): Rose Wight (autumn-planting hard neck) and Tuscany White (spring-planting soft-neck). Types for other regions will vary.
Fresh peas are a summer delicacy that can go from plant to plate within minutes. Mangetout peas (snow peas) are types that you can eat, flat pod and all. You can also eat the pod of sugar snap peas (snap peas), but the pod is much rounder. Garden peas (English peas in the USA) are types that you shuck the peas out of the pod. All are very simple to grow.
Peas can be sown indoors in early spring or direct into trenches outdoors once frosts have passed. No matter the type, they need supports to climb up and require regular watering. Once the pods have grown to a good size, they are ready for harvest. With regular harvesting, the plant will continue producing a healthy supply of pods.
Recommended varieties: Kelvedon Wonder (garden pea), Sweet Horizon (mangetout/snow pea), and Sugar Ann (sugar snap)
Zucchini are incredibly productive plants, and you will get lots of delicious summer squash from one or two plants. There are also many different colors and shapes of fruit to choose from, including classic green, yellow, striped, and ball-shaped.
Sow seeds in pots in April and plant them into their final position after the risk of frosts has passed. Zucchini are greedy plants and require constant moisture and nutrients. For the best yield, mix in compost or other organic matter before planting and feed the plants with tomato fertilizer through the season. Harvest when they are around four to six inches and cut the fruit from the stem with a sharp knife. Harvesting when they are smaller will ensure a constant supply and avoid zucchini developing into marrows.
Recommended varieties: Defender (classic green), Gold Rush (yellow), Tondo di Nizza (round), and Striato d’Italia (striped)
Rhubarb is a classic old favorite crop and a perennial plant that will produce a wealth of tasty stalks for decades. Though we tend to think of it as a dessert fruit, it’s actually an easy-to-grow vegetable. The quickest way to grow rhubarb is to get crowns and plant them in winter 30-40 inches apart. If you know someone who grows rhubarb, ask them if they’ll give you part of a crown when they divide their plant.
Rhubard loves a sunny position with moist, well-drained soil. The key to a productive long-lasting rhubarb crown is to keep the soil fertile. Mulch around, but not onto, the crown in autumn and feed with a general fertilizer in March. To harvest, pull and twist the stems off when the stalks are around 12 inches long and the leaves are fully open. Once you get tired of eating rhubarb crumble, you can also use the stems to make rhubarb wine, rhubarb gin, and other tasty recipes.
Recommended varieties: Victoria, Timpereley Early
Welsh onions are a perennial vegetable that you cut the leaves from to use as giant chives or onion greens. Perennial vegetables are especially easy to grow since you can harvest them year-after-year with little effort. As long as you don’t harvest the bulb, the plant will continue to grow through spring, summer, and autumn.
Welsh onions grow in a clump, and you can start your own with a division from a friend or with seeds. Sow seeds indoors in spring and then plant seedlings outside once the risk of frosts has passed. The plants need to be watered during hot and dry weather but are reasonably drought-tolerant. To harvest as a perennial, cut only the green parts of the leaves from the plant. The entire plant, including the small bulb, is edible, though.
Runner beans are prolific plants and produce a bounty of produce from a relatively small space. They grow up wigwams, netting, trellises, and anything else you give them and produce masses of long green beans. They’re also a little different in look and texture from French beans and are much easier to grow.
Sow runner bean seeds in pots in April, ready to plant out after the last frost. You can also sow directly in the soil when they are to grow, but since you need to do this after your last frost, it might mean a much later harvest. Runner beans need a warm and sunny spot and also a frame to climb up. Plant one or two plants per pole and gently tie the shoots to the cane.
Runner beans are hungry plants, so water regularly and always plant into fertile soil. Pick the beans when they are 6-8 inches long and tender. If they blow out, you can still shuck the beans from inside though the pods will be too tough to eat. Pick regularly to encourage the plant to produce more beans, and don’t leave old beans on the plant since it will cause the plant to stop flowering and producing pods.
Recommended varieties: Scarlet Emperor, Painted Lady, Enorma
Easy to Grow Vegetables for Beginners
There you have it – ten easy to grow vegetables that will help you start this year’s garden. If you decide to grow just these and nothing else, you’re sure to have long and heavy harvests ahead of you. Homegrown harvests right through the summer with minimal effort and lower stress than you might have with other crops. That’s because, for the most part, each of these veg only needs regular watering, soil amended with ordinary compost, and supports in a couple of cases. Not that complicated at all, and a great start to getting a harvest and discovering the art and joy of growing your own food.
There’s much more in the way of beginner gardening tips here on Lovely Greens, so don’t miss out on these other ideas:
- Don’t make these common gardening mistakes
- Starting a new vegetable garden from scratch
- 22 smart tips to save time and effort in the garden
- DIY Organic Fertilizers for the Vegetable Garden