Gardening can be an intimidating hobby to take up. While it may seem like a lot of research, preparation, and labor goes into producing perfect crops, it’s called a labor of love for a reason. Believe it or not, plenty of vegetables are approachable for beginners and don’t take a ridiculous amount of work.
There’s nothing quite like fresh vegetables that you took the time and effort to produce yourself. These are the ten easiest vegetables for beginners to grow in their gardens.
Swiss chard deserves to be a more popular crop than it is — it produces beautifully vibrant colors, is rich in vital nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K, and is a versatile, delicious vegetable. Swiss chard is related to beetroot, but it’s easier to grow since it does well in hot and cold climates. Begin planting this crop in the spring, two weeks after the last frost. You can plant them 40 days before the last frost in the fall.
Who doesn’t want an endless supply of lettuce? It’s such a versatile crop that can be used in various dishes as a garnish, salad, additional crunch in a sandwich, or some leafy substance in a soup. Lettuce isn’t just versatile to eat but also to grow. You can grow it indoors or outdoors and all year long.
Most lettuce varieties mature within 30 to 70 days and even sooner with regular thinning. If you’re growing lettuce in a hot climate, shade it to avoid bolting rapid maturation.
The shade slows the growth of the crop, so this doesn’t happen. You can cut leaves from the crop as they grow to enjoy them as needed. Create enough space between your lettuce plants (about 8 to 10 inches).
Admittedly, growing carrots can run you into some problems if you have issues with your soil. However, provided that you have loose, sandy soil, you should have a relatively easy time with them. Using improper soil can produce deformed carrots or ones that are too short. Thin your seedlings about two inches apart. Carrot Fly is this crop’s primary pest, but some varieties of carrots are resistant to pests and diseases.
Are you a beginner gardener? Start with radishes! When seeded directly into the ground, this vegetable can be harvested in less than a month and grow in full sun and shade. However, they prefer full sun for an incredibly fast yield. Thin the seedlings to about two inches apart as they emerge.
The best part about radishes is that they’re a natural companion to the carrot crop. You can mix these seeds together before sowing. Then, once the radishes emerge through the soil, they break it up for the slower-growing carrots which fill the row.
Growing cucumbers takes a bit of preparation, but it’s still approachable for a beginner. First, supplement the soil with a nitrogen high in both nitrogen and potassium to boost your yields. The ideal location to plant is directly in the sun next to a barrier like a fence or another crop like corn.
The trick to growing peas is to understand the average spring frost of your region so you can plant them as soon as possible. This should be about two weeks before the average spring frost.
Peas can be continuously harvested throughout the summer if you sow wide varieties of seeds with varying maturity dates. Then, two weeks later, sow even more seeds. Keep repeating this cycle until about mid-June to grow peas all summer long.
Beets are such a great root vegetable to grow. You can use the beetroot leaves in dishes, too. They can be prepared similarly to spinach, added to a salad, or sauteed in a pan.
Since the capsules contain two-to-three seeds, they should be thinned. Sow them about half an inch to an inch deep and space them 3-4 inches apart. Harvest the roots year-round until they grow to the size of a tennis ball. Choose your location wisely; beets prefer sunny areas and don’t tolerate being transplanted well.
Kale is a gardener’s dream because it doesn’t bolt, has few pests and diseases, and can be grown in various temperatures and stages. Plus, you can eat the buds and flowers! Kale can be used in smoothies, salads, casseroles –you name it. It’s a superfood, so it’s incredibly healthy for you.
Not only does it survive frost, but the more frosts it weathers, the sweeter it gets. So you can set your kale outdoors any time, whether you want to start them indoors or plant them in the spring or summer. Then, plant again in the fall. The seeds are harvestable within about 60 days.
To grow zucchini successfully, you only need ample space and well-composted soil. If you meet those two requirements, you’re all set.
Allow 3-6 ft of space between your seeds and place them in warm soil in direct sunlight. Only water the soil, not the leaves. Before you know it, you’ll have an endless supply of zucchini to toss into stir-fries or to eat as a side.
If you’re new to experimenting with growing vegetables, green beans are the perfect crop. They produce an impressive yield with minimal effort and thrive in warm and moist soil. Within about two months, they’ll be ready for harvest.
Green beans are unique because they fix nitrogen as they go, which allows them to fair well even in poor soil. There are numerous varieties, but bush varieties don’t necessitate trellising. Instead, keep your green beans about 2-4 inches apart, and sow the seeds about an inch deep.
This originally appeared on Planet Natural.
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa’s work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.