When it comes to vegetables, freshness is key, and what’s fresher than growing your own? Luckily, you don’t need a green thumb to grow an abundance of fresh vegetables right in your garden or balcony. Whether you’re a gardening novice or just want to start a vegetable garden with the least amount of time and effort, here are the best, almost foolproof, vegetables to grow.
Most gardening sites on the internet agree on which vegetables are best for beginners. Some of those listed here are also those that I, notorious plant killerhave also grown despite my inconsistent care and the not so sunny property.
You can’t just toss these plants in the ground and run away hoping they will thrive, but depending on the space, these plants are most likely to thrive in your edible garden. (I highly recommend Smart gardener for picking the best locations for these vegetables, preserving gardening memories, and more.)
Grow a simple lettuce
Good news! Some of the least picky veggies are perfect for an instant salad.
lettuce and other leafy lettuce
Lettuce grows fast, is really easy to harvest (just clip the tops off the plants or pick leaves as needed) and takes up very little space. It can even be grown in containers, perhaps accompanied by flowers or hidden under taller plants. I have had success direct seeding them even in partially shaded areas. Here is more information from gardener path.
Possibly the most popular vegetable for gardens of all sizes, you can grow tomatoes in hanging baskets or other containers, or anywhere they get plenty of sun and support their stems. Starter plants from a garden center at your local hardware store or specialty nursery are the easiest to breed. The spruce has a great step-by-step guide to growing tomatoes for beginners.
If you plant basil next to the tomato plants, you will Repel pests naturally and even improve the taste of the tomatoes– and fortunately, like other herbs, Basil is easy to grow also.
Cucumbers like sunlight and warm temperatures, as well as support for climbing. (Thanks to their vertical growth, pumpkins do well in containers.) Once you give them these and water them regularly, they’ll grow almost like weeds. You will probably have enough pickles to donate to your neighbors. That National Garden Association says that bush cucumbers (rather than vine cucumbers) are best suited to containers or small spaces and have good disease resistance.
Easier to grow vegetables
Most root vegetables like carrots, beets, and radishes are hardy and can be planted directly into the garden in spring and left until fall. The tops can also be harvested when these plants are growing. Green beans, squash, and zucchini are also a no-brainer and fairly prolific producers.
Remember those projects from elementary school where you pulled carrot greens out of your tips? Whole carrots are also fairly easy to grow in soil. The only thing about carrots is that they may not grow very tall, especially if you have rocky soil. Deep, well-drained soil is preferable – a raised bed is a good idea. Still, carrots are easy to grow and fun (your kids might even want to help). They also tolerate light shade, although like most plants they prefer full sun. Here is growing advice from Cornell.
You can cut radishes into a salad, but they’re also a lot more versatile than that, as appetizers, snacks and Side dishes. While not everyone loves them, you can add them to your garden once you see how easy they are to grow. They only need 20 days to reach their full size! Harvest on the table also has some great tips for raising those little red babies.
All types of green beans, from broad beans (or pole beans) to shell or whole beans, are ideal for the home garden. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, and picking beans to harvest them is quite entertaining. I’ve had better luck with the vine variety compared to the self-supporting shrub varieties of snappeas, but the shrub varieties require less space. Both types grow easily from seed. Most beans prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Harvest to Table has a list of 25 Best Types of Beans to Grow.
Pumpkins are relatively easy to grow and are great to have during the fall season. As you probably know from baking and carving, there are different types of pumpkins and some are easier to grow than others. See the information on for full instructions Harvest on the table.
Finally, there are zucchini and other summer squash. Seriously eats says:
Zucchini grows so profusely that they’re the butt of many gardening jokes. (“The only time we close our doors around these parts is during zucchini season.”) A plant or two should cut it for most people. The flowers are as delicious as the pumpkin.
Like beans and cucumbers, zucchini plants are prolific whether grown in containers or directly in soil mounds. Like beans and radishes, they grow easily from seed. However, they do need good moisture and prefer warm soil, so it’s best to sow the seeds later in the warm season (a good plant for garden procrastination!). Here is more information from Cornell University.
With the seven vegetables above (or just a few of them), you’ll have the freshest produce possible this growing season—without too much effort. Hey, the more you garden, the more you grow.
This story was originally published on 04/11/14 and updated on 06/20/19 to provide more thorough and timely information.