Jeannette Baum10-Minute Read
UPDATED: May 25, 2023
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Imagine for a moment you feel like making pico de gallo to serve with your dinner this evening. You step out into your backyard and walk over to your garden. You pick some tomatoes and some onions, and you head back into the house to wash them up.
As you’re chopping the veggies, you realize you need to add cilantro to make your pico authentic. You could always send your significant other back to the grocery store for one single bunch of cilantro – or, if you’ve already got some in your garden, you could just go back out and pick some yourself. With a vegetable garden in your backyard, you can avert many a meal prep crisis.
Planting the easiest vegetables to grow in your yard will make it more fun and more productive. In this guide, we’ll go over some of these plants in more detail.
As more people are finding the act of leaving the house to go grocery shopping less appealing, home-growing food is becoming more enticing. Let’s take a close look at some of the easiest vegetables to grow so you can start your own at-home garden.
Leafy greens are some of the easiest and quickest vegetables to grow. Most of them bring a high yield fairly quickly. Dark leafy greens like kale, chard, collard greens and mustard greens are high in nutrients and typically tolerant to the heat all summer long. Spinach, however, becomes stressed under peak summer heat, which can cause the plant to bolt or begin to flower and produce seeds. When plants bolt, their leaves tend to take on a more bitter taste as the plant redirects its nutrients to increase seed production. That’s why it’s best to plant spinach and loose-leaf lettuces in the cooler temperatures of early spring.
Most greens are shallow-rooted, so they don’t need to be planted in deep soil to produce a crop. Container gardens, raised beds and even shallow pots that you keep indoors will work fine. From the time seeds are planted, you should plan to begin harvesting about 2 months after planting. It’s best to sow seeds indoors about 4 – 6 weeks before the last frost and to transfer the plants outdoors only after the last frost has passed.
Leafy greens and lettuces are relatively low maintenance, making them ideal for beginners. As long as you keep the rabbits out of the garden and water your plants often, you should have plenty of fresh greens for all of your summer salad recipes.
Root vegetables are rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants and essential nutrients they absorb from the soil. It’s best not to overcrowd root seeds and to ensure each plant has ample space in loose soil to dig their roots far into the ground. Most root vegetables are resilient and prefer to mature in cooler weather. Plant carrots, radishes and turnips in spring just after the last expected frost. Choose a spot with plenty of direct sunlight and water your root veggies regularly. Most of your root vegetables should be ready for harvesting in about a month after planting.
There are three main types of bush beans:
All of these bush beans are excellent sources of protein, and they’re an easy-to-grow addition to your garden.
Bush beans should be planted about 2 inches deep and 3 inches apart in an area with full sunlight. Unlike pole beans, bush beans can hold themselves up and don’t need to be secured to a pole. They prefer warm soil, so make sure you plant them well after the last frost.
Peas are another excellent source of protein, and equally as easy to grow as bush beans. Unlike bush beans, however, peas need a trellis to support them while they grow. They should be planted in early spring about 4 – 6 weeks before the estimated last frost. Farmers have traditionally gone by the rule that peas should be planted near March 17 each year. You can plant a second round of peas in late summer or early fall for a second harvest.
Once your peas are planted, make sure not to let them dry out. If your pea plants dry up, they won’t produce any pods.
Cherry tomatoes are some of the easiest plants to grow at home. You can plant them in a pot with drainage holes and add steel wire plant cages so they’ll stay upright.
If you have multiple seeds in a pot, be sure to spread them out. Seedlings need plenty of room to grow. If you find your plants become crowded, consider cutting down the weaker stalks. This will allow more room and nutrients for the stronger plants to grow and produce more fruit. Water your plants regularly, and plant them where they’ll get plenty of sunlight, and you’ll have little red ripe tomatoes popping up in no time.
Summer squash come in a variety of colors, shapes and flavors. Some common types include zucchini squash and yellow squash. Squash grows quickly and is best harvested when the fruit is small, before the skin becomes thick and tough. The plants should be harvested often, as that helps with production. When harvesting your summer squash, be sure to cut the stem closest to the fruit so the vine will bear fruit again.
Squash plants love water and hot weather. But if it’s too hot, keep an eye out for wilting in the leaves. This means the squash needs more water.
Cucumbers thrive in high sunlight and warmer climates, so be sure to place them in a spot with an unobstructed view of the sun. Begin planting cucumbers in late spring or early summer to avoid the risk of frost since the plant prefers soil at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Cucumbers like to have either plenty of space to spread out or a trellis to climb upward, so make sure you consider this when planting.
Cucumbers take about 50 – 70 days to be ready for harvesting. Once the female flowers on the plant open up, the fruit will be ready to pick in about 8 – 10 days. When it’s time to harvest your cukes, take a sharp knife to the vine closest to the fruit, and harvest often to encourage more production.
Regardless of whether you’re growing sweet peppers, bell peppers or hot peppers, it’s best to wait until the possibility of frost has long since passed to get planting. Late spring and early summer are the best times to plant peppers. You should plant them about 12 – 20 inches apart, adding a vegetable plant cage to ensure the plant doesn’t break from heavy fruit load or high winds.
Peppers prefer to stay moist, so be sure to water them often. In dry climates or times of drought, it’s a good idea to put a generous layer of mulch down near your pepper plants to retain moisture. When you go to harvest your peppers, you can pick them right off the vine with a little twist of your wrist. Keep in mind that the color of the pepper tells a story of its flavor. If you harvest the pepper early in its green stages, it’s more likely to be bitter or hotter depending on the pepper. If you wait until the pepper matures and changes colors to orange or red, the pepper is more likely to have a sweet taste.
Unlike most of the plants on the list, garlic can be planted in the fall or even early winter. While it’s best to grow garlic from seed, you can grow it from cloves you find at the grocery store. You’ll need to plant your cloves with the roots down about 6 inches apart and 2 inches deep.
Keep in mind that while you plant garlic in the fall, you won’t see a harvest until early summer. When you’re ready to collect your garlic, carefully dig around the bulbs, resisting the urge to yank it out by the stem. Once you pull the garlic from the ground, you’ll need to let them cure in a shady area with good air circulation for about 2 weeks. Last step, enjoy!
What if you want to plant more vegetables than you have room for in your garden bed? You can always plant some vegetables in pots or containers instead of planting them directly in the ground. Tomatoes, salad greens and peppers all thrive when planted in both pots and directly in the garden. Herbs are great for planting in pots as well, and they’re some of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed.
Having some plants in pots can take your outdoor decor to the next level and make it much easier to tell which plant is which. Some homeowners who live in urban areas or who don’t have ample space to plant an entire garden in their yard choose to keep all of their plants in pots. Potted gardens offer more flexibility and allow you to accommodate multiple types of plants more easily. Even better, they can extend the growing season. If you suspect it will frost, you can bring your potted plants inside to protect them. You could even keep them through the whole winter if you have the right indoor garden setup.
Amy Enfield, a horticulturist from Bonnie Plants, says one trick to a versatile garden that can be grown indoors is to opt for compact versions of vegetables.
“Compact varieties that stay under 2 feet in size are even smaller than traditional bush-type varieties, meaning they won’t take up too much space in your home,” she says.
Enfield advises growing your herbs like lavender, rosemary, basil, oregano and mint indoors. “Not only are most herbs easy to grow, they also add a great fragrance to your room and can be easily harvested to add to your cooking,” she says. “Like vegetables, the key to success is not overwatering them and providing lots of light.”
In addition to fragrance, it’s thought having plants inside can help to purify the air in your home. If your plants are in pots, you have the flexibility to move them wherever you’d like.
While most of the vegetables on this list are fairly easy to grow, all plants require some sort of maintenance. Let’s take a look at some ways you can make sure your garden yields the greatest amount of healthy fruit.
You can water, fertilize and prune correctly, but if you don’t plant your vegetables in their optimum growing season, your efforts could be wasted, their growth could be stunted, they might not bear fruit or they might not even get the chance to sprout. A common rule of thumb among gardeners is to hold off on planting outside until after Mother’s Day. This is because frost and frigid temperatures are less likely to occur after mid-May. While this is a great rule of thumb, it’s important to research each individual plant’s needs.
Before you start your garden, you’ll need to consider what types of chemicals you’re willing, or not willing, to put on your veggies. There are plenty of ways to feed your plants so they grow strong and healthy. But if you choose to make your garden organic, it could take a bit of extra work on your part.
Organic gardens typically use organic matter for more eco-friendly fertilizer. If you’re planning on making your garden organic, you should become familiar with how to compost. The plus side of compost means more nutrients for your soil. The more nutrients in your soil, the more nutrients your plants will receive, and the more nutrients end up in your vegetables.
If you don’t mind using chemical fertilizers, odds are there are a variety of choices on the shelves of your local home improvement store. One quick trip and you’re on your way to bigger, brighter veggies.
Most plants are susceptible to a variety of garden pests and diseases, so it’s important to the health of your vegetables that you’re proactive about these problems. One of the easiest ways to start is by placing a barrier around your garden. Make sure it’s high enough to keep out little critters looking to munch on your veggies and sturdy enough so they can’t move it. You can build these barriers on your own or hire a professional landscaper to create a strong and long-lasting barrier to keep your veggies safe.
Protect Them From Extreme Weather
You’ll want to shield your plants from extreme weather whenever possible. While protective tent shelters are sold to shield plants from extreme weather, you can also use burlap, blankets or plastic sheets. These easy DIY solutions can be secured to the barriers around your garden beds to help them stand up against wind. If you have potted plants, make sure to bring them inside before the temperatures drop. This will help you keep them alive even when growing conditions outside are less than ideal.
Be Mindful Of Pests And Insects
You don’t have to rely on chemical pesticides to keep bugs away from your fruits and vegetables. Instead, attract beneficial insects into your garden. Bugs like ladybugs, dragonflies and praying mantises will eat the harmful bugs and act as tiny bodyguards for your garden. You can also try mild and natural sprays such as garlic spray, salt spray or diluted dish soap spray.
If pests do get a hold of your plants, be sure to cut off any diseased growth. Most of the time, diseased growth will look sickly or discolored so you’ll be able to easily differentiate the healthy growth from the stuff that needs to be removed.
As you go to replant next season, be sure to rotate your crops. This disorients the pests looking to get a head start on munching on your garden each spring. Keeping your plants in the same place every year also leaves a higher chance for disease to root in the soil.
Having a garden of your own full of fresh vegetables can be a surprisingly convenient, healthier choice for you and your family. When you’re first starting out, make sure to select the easiest plants to grow from seed rather than choosing plants that are difficult to grow in your climate. As you gain experience, you’ll be able to branch out into more difficult plants.
Once you have your garden growing strong, you’ll have time to take on more home improvement projects both indoors and out. Check out the Rocket Homes℠ blog for more tips and tricks to help you turn your house into your dream home.
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