Easy to Grow Vegetables for Beginner Gardeners

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These easy to grow vegetables for beginner gardeners are every bit as good for a first timer as they are for a garden master! You can’t go wrong with the vegetables on this list.

If you’ve never planted a garden before, it’s not as daunting a task as some make it out to be. In fact, it’s a lot of fun! Seasoned gardeners will tell you that there are some plants that are much easier to grow than you think.

Whether you start your own seeds or buy plants from a nursery, these easy vegetables for beginner gardeners should be on your “to grow” list.

Easy to Grow Vegetables for Beginner Gardeners

Maybe you’ve tried gardening, killed everything, and quickly got discouraged. Don’t let your anxiety over gardening get the best of you. Even beginner gardeners can grow delicious vegetables their first year if they have a few tips to help get them started.

Here are 16 easy to grow vegetables for beginner gardeners (and those who think they have “brown thumbs”). This combination list offers tons of different possibilities for cooking and salad-making.


Easy to Grow Root Vegetables

Easy to Grow Root Vegetables for Beginners

Radishes

Radishes grow well even in soil that isn’t the greatest in the world. Direct sow seeds into the ground in spring, early summer, and fall in full sun. Radishes are ready to harvest in only a few weeks. Some varieties are ready to harvest in as little as 3 weeks.

  • Radishes are easy vegetables for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 6-21
  • Days to Harvest: 60-80
  • Ideal Temperatures: 60-70°F
  • Planting Time: Spring, Early Summer, Fall
  • Spacing: 3″
  • Light Preference: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Best Companions: Peas, Lettuce, Tomatoes

Carrots

Carrots are root vegetables that thrive in sandy, well-drained soil. Be sure to till the bed thoroughly to make sure all rocks are removed to avoid short or deformed carrots. They mature in about 2 months and should be around half an inch in diameter, depending on the variety.

  • Carrots are easy vegetables for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 6-21
  • Days to Harvest: 60-80
  • Ideal Temperatures: 60-70°F
  • Planting Time: Spring, Early Summer, Fall
  • Spacing: 3″
  • Light Preference: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Best Companions: Peas, Lettuce, Tomatoes

Onions

Onions grow well in raised beds or containers. Soil needs to be well-drained, loose, and rich in nitrogen as compact soil affects bulb development. Mulch will help retain moisture and help stifle weeds.

Start with small plants, and if they do well, you can harvest bulb onions. If not, you can always eat the green tops like spring onions.

  • Onions are easy vegetables for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 7-10
  • Days to Harvest: 90-120
  • Ideal Temperatures: 55-75°F
  • Planting Time: Spring, Fall
  • Spacing: 6″
  • Light Preference: Full to Partial Sun
  • Best Companions: Carrots, Lettuce, Cabbage

Turnips

Turnips cannot tolerate hot summer months, so they grow best in mild spring or fall weather. An autumn crop that is seeded in late summer is typically sweeter and more tender than a spring crop. Pests are also less of a problem with a fall crop.

Seed directly into the garden as turnips do not transplant well.

  • Turnips are easy vegetables for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 7-10
  • Days to Harvest: 40-50
  • Ideal Temperatures: 40-75°F
  • Planting Time: Spring, Late Summer, Fall
  • Spacing: 2″ / 2′ rows
  • Light Preference: Full to Partial Sun
  • Best Companions: Peas

Easy to Grow Greens

Easy to Grow Leafy Green Vegetables for Beginners

Spinach

Spinach can be planted in very early spring as well as fall and winter. Sow seeds half an inch deep, covering lightly with a sprinkling of fresh soil. Sow about 12 seeds per foot of row, or sprinkle over a wide row or bed.

Don’t wait too long to harvest or wait for larger leaves. Bitterness will set in quickly after maturity.

  • Spinach is an easy vegetable for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 6-21
  • Days to Harvest: 40-50
  • Ideal Temperatures: 35-75­­°F
  • Planting Time: Early Spring, Fall, Winter
  • Spacing: 8″
  • Light Preference: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Best Companions: Cabbage, Broccoli, Strawberries

Kale

Kale is a very versatile leafy green to grow in the garden. It does well in traditional garden beds or raised beds. Kale also grows great in containers as an edible ornamental, especially in fall.

Kale is also versatile in the kitchen. The cooler weather brings out the sweet, nutty flavor of this highly nutritious leafy green. It’s a delicious, iron-rich addition to salads, stir fries, casseroles, and dishes like sauteed cabbage and kale.

  • Kale is an easy vegetable for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 7-10
  • Days to Harvest: 80-95
  • Ideal Temperatures: 65-75°F
  • Planting Time: Spring, Fall
  • Spacing: 18-24″
  • Light Preference: Full to Partial Sun
  • Best Companions: Carrots, Radishes, Turnips

Lettuce

Lettuces are best sown directly in soil, whether an in-ground garden or a container. Lots of people like to plant in a garden tower close to their patio for easy salad picking. A cool-season crop, lettuce does well in cooler weather.

Stagger planting every couple of weeks up to early summer and then in the fall will give you huge amounts of delicious salad greens. They grow quickly, produce for a long time, and aren’t super demanding if you keep them watered well.

  • Lettuce is an easy vegetables for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 2-15
  • Days to Harvest: 65-80
  • Ideal Temperatures: 45-75­­°F
  • Planting Time: Early Spring, Fall
  • Spacing: 6-18″
  • Light Preference: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Best Companions: Carrots, Radishes, Beetroot

Arugula

Arugula is a quick-growing, cool-season crop that adds tangy, mustard-like flavors to fresh salads. Also known by the name “rocket” or “roquette,” it has a bolder flavor than most other leafy greens.

Direct sow in early spring or fall, and the seeds will germinate quickly in the cool soil. You should be able to start harvesting young leaves in about 6 to 8 weeks. Seedlings can tolerate a light frost, but I would consider protecting plants with row covers just to be safe.

  • Arugula is an easy vegetable for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 7-10
  • Days to Harvest: 35-45
  • Ideal Temperatures: 45-65°F
  • Planting Time: Spring, Fall
  • Spacing: 3-4″
  • Light Preference: Full to Partial Sun
  • Best Companions: Beans, Spinach, Cucumbers

Easy to Grow Beans and Peas

Easy to Grow Beans and Peas for Beginners

Green beans

Green beans are very easy to grow and produce a lot, even in a limited space. If you get a big crop, they freeze well, and they’re also delicious when pickled as “dilly beans.”

Green beans are either “bush” or “pole” variety. Bush beans typically do not need extra support. Pole beans, however, typically require a tripod or trellis on which to climb.

  • Green beans are easy vegetables for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 2-15
  • Days to Harvest: 55-65
  • Ideal Temperatures: 55-85­­°F
  • Planting Time: Early Summer
  • Spacing: 8-16″
  • Light Preference: Full Sun to Partial Shade (in the heat)
  • Best Companions: Potatoes, Cabbages, Peas

Cowpeas

Also known as “Black-eyed Peas” or “Southern Peas,” cowpeas thrive in the warm temperatures of late spring and summer. Direct sow seeds in spring when the temperatures are steadily in the 65°F range. Although they are tolerant of the heat and dry weather conditions, you should deep-water them during especially dry periods.

Even the young tender leaves of the cowpea plant are edible. Pick them for a fresh salad or cook them as you would spinach.

  • Cowpeas are easy vegetables for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 7-10
  • Days to Harvest: 80-90
  • Ideal Temperatures: 65-85°F
  • Planting Time: Spring, Summer
  • Spacing: 2-3″ / 3′ rows
  • Light Preference: Full Sun
  • Best Companions: Carrots, Corn, Cucumbers

Pinto Beans

The Mexican native pinto bean is a prized crop in the Southern United States (and, of course, Mexico). While most of us know them as the dry beans that you soak and boil to delicious perfection, they can actually be harvested earlier and eaten as a green snap bean.

Direct sow seeds in a location where other beans have not grown within the past three years, as they are more susceptible to disease. Pintos need warm summers with long periods of direct, full sun exposure.

  • Pinto beans are easy vegetables for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 4-5
  • Days to Harvest: 90-150
  • Ideal Temperatures: 60-85°F
  • Planting Time: Spring, Fall
  • Spacing:6″ / 2′ rows
  • Light Preference: Full Sun
  • Best Companions: Cucumbers, Celery, Strawberries

Lima Beans

Limas are one of the few bean varieties that set fruit all at once. Succession planting will ensure a constant harvest of delicious beans. Knowing when to harvest is key, though, to avoid woody and bitter pods.

Because they are not frost hardy and also do not tolerate extreme heat well, be sure you’re growing your Limas when temperatures are in the 70-80°F range. Time your plantings so your harvest comes well before the hottest period of the summer.

  • Lima beans are easy vegetables for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 7-18
  • Days to Harvest: 65-90
  • Ideal Temperatures: 70-80°F
  • Planting Time: Spring, Early Summer, Fall
  • Spacing: 4″ / 2′ rows
  • Light Preference: Full Sun
  • Best Companions: Celery, Cucumbers, Potatoes

Easy to Grow Fruiting Crops

Easy to Grow Fruiting Vegetables for Beginners

Peppers

Peppers seedlings can be started indoors and transplanted outside after the danger of frost has passed in the spring. They can be ripened for different lengths of time to get a range of colors and flavors. All peppers start out dark green and change color as they ripen.

Both hot peppers and bell peppers are easy to grow. While the plants do well in the heat of summertime, it’s best to water deeply (1-2″ of water per week) and spread mulch around the plants to keep the soil cool and moist.

  • Peppers are easy vegetables for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 8-25
  • Days to Harvest: 60-80
  • Ideal Temperatures: 70-90°F
  • Planting Time: Early Summer
  • Spacing: 18-36″
  • Light Preference: Full Sun
  • Best Companions: Basil, Onions, Carrots, Radishes

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are warm-season plants that will pretty much grow anywhere in any amount of space. Bush varieties grow lower to the ground and need little support. Vining types can be trained to climb a trellis.

The first blooms on cucumber vines are usually all male, so don’t fret if they all fall off with no fruit to show for it. Female blooms will begin to grow with the males, giving you the chance for ample amounts of sweet cucumbers.

  • Cucumbers are easy vegetables for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 4-13
  • Days to Harvest: 45-65
  • Ideal Temperatures: 70-85­­°F
  • Planting Time: Summer
  • Spacing: 12″ / 3′ rows
  • Light Preference: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Best Companions: Beans, Carrots, Cauliflower

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are the quintessential garden crop. There’s just no substitute for a perfectly ripe tomato, and it’s hard to go wrong when you start from plants. If you get a big crop, consider canning or freezing.

Start seeds indoors or buy your transplants from a local nursery. When you’re ready to get them into the garden, remove the lower leaves and plant about two-thirds of the stem for additional roots, better water and nutrient intake, and an overall stronger, healthier plant.

  • Tomatoes are easy vegetables for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 6-14
  • Days to Harvest: 60-100
  • Ideal Temperatures: 60-90°F
  • Planting Time: Early Summer
  • Spacing: 18-36″
  • Light Preference: Full Sun
  • Best Companions: Chives, Carrots, Peppers

Bush Zucchini

Bush zucchini is a shrub-type summer squash that won’t take up as much room in your garden as it’s vining squash cousins. It’s also a very fruitful plant, easiest to start from established seedlings. You won’t need more than a few to have a huge harvest of delicious fruit.

Mulching with straw will help keep the soil moist and the fruit off the damp ground. Add a little 10-10-10 fertilizer around the plant, and your bush zucchini will flourish and be exceptionally prolific!

  • Zucchini are easy vegetables for beginner gardenersDays to Germination: 6-12
  • Days to Harvest: 45-65
  • Ideal Temperatures: 70-90­­°F
  • Planting Time: Summer
  • Spacing: 12″ / 3′ rows
  • Light Preference: Full Sun
  • Best Companions: Peas, Beans

Bonus Ideas for Easy to Grow Crops

There are many, many more fruits, veggies, and herbs that are extremely easy to grow. Try melons, for example. They’re low maintenance and delicious on a hot summer’s day after you’ve been in the garden all afternoon!

What are your favorite easy to grow vegetables?

Leave us a comment below and tell us what vegetables you have the easiest time growing. Snap a few pics and tag us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #SouthernDreamsGardens so we can see how you’re doing!

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11 thoughts on “Easy to Grow Vegetables for Beginner Gardeners”

  1. There are so many helpful ideas here! I especially love growing onions from set or starts because they’re just so easy and make you feel like a better gardener than you might *actually* be! Now I’m wishing it was warmer here so I could finally get my tomatoes in!

    Reply
  2. Thank you for this list! It’s great having them all with the information right in one place. Can’t wait until I have more space to garden in!

    Reply

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