Once upon a time, my husband started a garden on our acre and a half property. Hard to admit, but at the time, I wasn’t really on board. I was one of those… grow a lawn type people (hides head in shame).
But… no more. I finally came to realize the error of my ways and started wondering why weren’t we growing our own food? Then, I got overwhelmed with how to grow our own food and got stuck for a minute.
Eventually, I just jumped in head first and realized I wasn’t going to learn if I didn’t try. So, I tried. I found the easiest, can’t hardly mess it up, vegetables to grow in my garden and I am so glad I did. Now, I’ll attempt to grow anything in the garden. But those first few years of successful harvests of the easier-to-grow varieties are what set me up for success.
No one wants a brown thumb, and quite frankly, some things are more difficult to grow than others. Sure, in theory, you just need some soil, sun, and water. But… like most things in life, it isn’t always that simple.
So, today I am here and ready to set you up for gardening success. Your first garden is going to rock, I promise! You’re going to pull so many vegetables out of there, you’re going to need to learn how to can and freeze them!
10 Easy to Grow Vegetables for the Beginning Gardener
I love growing carrots. They’re such a fun plant to watch grow. Much less likely to be eaten by insects once you get past the sprouting stage (anything can be eaten up when it’s a seed!). You can plant carrots early in the spring and harvest them come fall. You can also harvest the greens earlier in the year.
Carrots prefer a sandy, moist soil. Raised beds are great for carrots, but you can plant them directly in the ground. The only catch is, if you have rocky soil, they may not get particularly large. They prefer direct sun, but will tolerate a little shade. The seeds are tiny and should be planted about 1/2″ down, two to a hole, and about three inches apart. Thin to one carrot top every few inches for the best growth rates and harvest.
I remember when I was a little girl, my mom planted some radishes one year. I thought they were gross. However, tastes change and I actually really like the flavor radishes add to dishes.
Radishes are probably one of the hardiest vegetables on the planet. There is no such thing as a brown thumb with these. Once they sprout, which happens really quickly, they’re almost impossible to kill. Insects don’t like them either.
Like carrots, and all root vegetables, they prefer sandy, moist soil. Radishes will grow despite rocky soil conditions, though. (carrots will too, they’ll just possibly be on the small side). Plant the seeds about 1/2″ down and an inch apart. Water daily.
Is a tomato a vegetable? Depends on if you’re asking a scientist or a chef ?. For the sake of argument, I’m calling it a a vegetable just so we’re clear. Anyhow… tomatoes are the perfect garden vegetable. It’s just not a garden without them. Apparently a favorite of many, since I asked on facebook the other day what vegetable you would grow year round and the winner was… tomatoes!
Tomatoes are pretty straightforward. A lot of people buy starts at the store. I start my own from seed . You can find out how to transplant your starts (whether from the garden center or your own) here. Then, you can read 7 steps to grow awesome tomatoes here.
One of my favorite bean varieties are the green ones. I love to can them up, throw some garlic and butter on them and eat them with supper. They’re also super delicious fresh.
Any bean is fairly easy to grow. Personally, I have the best luck with bush varieties. Some swear by pole varieties. The bush varieties obviously take up less space in the garden, so if you’re short on space, it would be best to go with those. However, other than space and personal preference, it’s really up to you.
They prefer well drained soil and full sun. Most seeds require you to pre-soak them to get them started on their path to germination. Just read the packet instructions and you’ll be good to go for that. You can plant any time after the last frost. Place bush beans about an inch down and plant them roughly 18 inches apart. Note that pole varieties will require a trellis and can grow up to 15 feet, so be sure you’ve got it all set up for stacking. They can be planted about three inches apart.
Zucchini is the easiest squash variety to grow. While they aren’t completely resistant to squash bugs, they are fairly hardy and easy to grow. Zucchini tend to be very prolific producers. I love frying zucchini or adding it to tomato sauce. Mmmm.
One or two of these plants will be plenty for the majority of people. Unless you want to drown in zucchinis all summer. I prefer to start zucchinis and plant the transplants to avoid the problem of squash bugs.
Zucchini prefer warm soil of at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so wait at least a week after the last frost before transplanting them. You can direct sow, and if you do, plant the seeds about an inch down, but give them plenty of room and space them at least 4 feet apart.
I love fresh cucumbers. A tiny bit of sea salt and that delicious crunch is all I need. They’re also great for making pickles so long as you get the pickling varieties.
Like beans, cucumbers come in two varieties. Bush and vine. Bush cucumbers are just as prolific as vine and can be grown in containers or in small spaces. I grow both and don’t have a preference other than not needing a trellis to support the bush varieties.
Cucumbers love warm, fertile, well-drained soil. Plant about 3 feet apart and about an inch down. If you’re using vine varieties, plant those about a foot apart. Like zucchini, wait until the soil is nice and warm and keep them watered and they’ll grow like weeds.
Lettuce, and really any other green, is really easy to grow. They require very little space and are super simple to harvest. You can take what you want when you want it and they’ll keep growing. You also don’t have to worry about the crazy listeriosis outbreaks that seem to plague commercially produced greens ?.
Lettuce prefers moist soil and can be planted fairly early. It doesn’t care much for the super hot days of summer. But once you get it going, it will stick around for a while if you care for it. Plant the seeds about 1/4″ deep and roughly 12 inches apart. Thin sprouts so the plants have room to grow and expand.
Last year, I had planted my garden right before my mom passed away unexpectedly. I didn’t tend to it much at all and we had an unusually wet May. My beets grew like crazy despite my neglect. You can eat the greens (which are delicious) all season and harvest the roots at the end of the season. Yum yum!
Beets will tolerate pretty much anything, but make sure you keep the soil moist. Seeds can be directly sown in the soil about 1/2″ down and 4″ apart.
Sugar Snap Peas
I love fresh sugar snap peas! They’re also delicious sautéed in a stir fry or even by themselves. They’re very prolific producers and don’t require a lot of fuss. They do require a trellis of some sort to support them, but they’re easy peasy (pun intended) to grow!
They like moist soil and can be directly sown in the ground. Place seeds about 1″ deep and 2″ apart.
Life would not be complete without potatoes. They’re so versatile and they keep really well, as long as you’re storing them right. Potatoes, on top of all their versatility and ease of storage, grow incredibly easily and prolifically.
Lots and lots of people make potato towers, grow them in garbage cans, or even in sacks! However, an incredibly easy, low maintenance way to grow potatoes is in straw. They’re not picky at all.
To plant potatoes in straw, you will take cut sections of sprouted potatoes and place them directly on top of the soil. Cover them with 4-6″ of straw. The sprouts will come up through the straw!
Like all things, patience is key. Just relax and enjoy digging in the dirt. It’s incredibly therapeutic. And before you know it, you’ll be a green thumb with so many vegetables, you’ll have to sell some at market!
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