Are you keen on the idea of growing your own vegetables, but not really sure where to start? This list of ten easy to grow vegetables is a great first step on your grow your own journey.
Growing vegetables at home is a brilliant way to become less reliant on shop-bought produce. You can also enjoy fresh vegetables and organic produce for a fraction of the cost compared to buying from a grocery store. It’s a fantastic way to keep busy in the garden and get the kids involved too. Having said that, some fruit and vegetables are much easier to grow than others!
Easy to grow vegetables for beginners
If you’re restricted by space, garden tools and equipment, or are simply a first-time gardener, it makes sense to begin with crops that are easy to grow. This vegetable growing guide covers my top ten quick and easy to grow vegetables to give you a head start and help you get the best results.
Here’s how to grow your own vegetables.
Potatoes are easy to grow, but you need to be a little bit organised as they take at least two to three months to produce a harvestable crop.
If you can, get hold of some ‘seed potatoes’. These have been grown with the specific purpose of being replanted to produce a crop of potatoes. If you can’t find seed potatoes it’s worth having a go with grocery store potatoes, but there’s a chance of these developing viruses.
Once you’ve got your potatoes, leave them in a cool, bright place to start sprouting before you plant them.
When your potatoes are ready, plant them about 8 inches deep in garden beds, raised beds, or planters. When you start to see leaves, cover them up with more soil, and keep repeating this process until the plants flower. Doing this prevents the growing potatoes turning green and poisonous, and will also increase your crop by encouraging more potatoes to grow on the buried stems.
Your potatoes will be ready to harvest once the flowers have died back.
If you’ve got lots of room in the garden you can grow potatoes in rows for a big harvest, but don’t be put off if you don’t have ample space. You can grow potatoes very successfully in a *container. This method is perfect for small gardens or your first efforts at vegetable growing. My step-by-step guide to growing potatoes in bags has more details on how to do this. I’ve also got a list of potato puns and potato jokes if you fancy a giggle.
Dwarf french beans (bush beans)
Dwarf french beans – also known as bush beans – are compact plants, making them a brilliant choice if you don’t have much space. Unlike peas and broccoli they don’t need protection from things like birds and butterflies, and you can get away without giving them any supports. All this makes them a very low-maintenance crop. French beans freeze really well too.
Sow dwarf french bean seeds in pots of compost in early spring, and plant them out when they reach 15-20cm tall. You should be able to start harvesting beans around two months after you sow seeds. If you’re experiencing cool weather it could take a bit longer.
Try sowing a few seeds every couple of weeks to provide a continuous supply right through to late summer.
Courgettes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed. Just one plant can easily supply you with enough harvest. Plant any more, and you’ll probably end up looking for creative recipes involving courgettes!
Courgette seeds are quite big, which means the kids can easily help sow them. Plant one seed per pot, and plant the young plants out when they reach about 15cm tall and look nice and sturdy.
If you do end up with more courgettes than you know what to do with, start to harvest them when they are tiny. Baby courgettes are really tasty in pasta and stir fries. And make sure you get the kids to make magic courgettes – lightly scratch their name onto a small one and it will grow pretty quickly into a giant name. Brilliant fun!
Runner beans (pole beans)
Runner beans (also known as pole beans) are climbing plants, so they will need some support, but this means they don’t take up much space. *Garden canes made into a wigwam shape are perfect. You can easily tuck them in amongst a garden border, and they’re easy vegetables to grow in pots if you’re really tight on space. The seeds are big so they’re perfect for kids to plant.
You can start runner beans off in pots, or plant the seeds straight into their growing site.
Make sure you tie the plants to their supports as they grow, and pinch out the end of the growing shoot when they reach the top. Harvest the pods when they are still young and tender, this will be around four months after sowing.
Onions & shallots
Onions and shallots are grown from ‘sets’. You plant a ‘set’ onion in the ground and it grows into a bigger onion, which you then harvest. Shallot sets are planted the same way, but each one grows a cluster of shallots (a bit like garlic).
These are great vegetables for children to plant, as you just push them into the earth until only the tip is showing. You often get one or two sets popping out of the soil while they grow, so keep an eye on them and shove them back in if they misbehave.
Your onions and shallots will be ready to harvest when the leaves turn yellow and floppy.
When it comes to the fastest vegetables to grow, it’s hard to beat salad greens. Some varieties can be ready for harvesting in as little as two to three weeks.
Salad is really easy to grow, and perfect for small spaces or grow-your-own in containers. Growing salad is also a great project for kids to have a go at, I’ve got an easy guide to doing this here. Protecting your leafy greens from aphids is also easy – learn about that here.
Choose a salad variety that you enjoy eating, or go for a packet of *mixed lettuce seeds to mimic the expensive bags you buy in the shops.
Aim to sow salad seeds little and often, so that you extend the growing season and always have a tasty crop ready to harvest. Remember also to thin your seedlings out if they’re a little crowded. This will really make a difference to the amount of salad you can harvest, as each plant has less competition for the nutrients in the compost.
You might think tomatoes are a bit tricky to grow, but if you choose the right variety that doesn’t have to be the case.
Go for a bush variety of tomato such as Balconi Red or Tumbling Tom, as opposed to a cordon variety. Bush types won’t need supports, and you won’t have to regularly remove side shoots either. Bush varieties of tomatoes are also ideal for growing in containers and hanging baskets, as they produce smaller cherry tomatoes on compact plants. There’s a good guide to doing this here:
You can grow tomatoes from seed, or buy small plants from garden centres. If you decide to grow from seed you will need to provide a warm, bright environment until your seedlings are established. This can be as simple as a sunny spot on a windowsill, or an improvised mini-greenhouse in a cooler spot.
Tomato plants enjoy full sun. Plant them in a sunny, sheltered location outdoors in late spring, when the danger of frost has gone. Tomatoes will be happy in vegetable patches, growbags or container gardens. They’re hungry plants, so it’s a good idea to feed them regularly with a *liquid feed that’s suitable for fruit and vegetables.
These fast growing root vegetables are seriously low-effort. Radishes can really perk up a salad, and quick-maturing varieties can be ready in around four weeks. The speed of growth makes them super easy vegetables to grow at home with children too.
Sow radish seeds directly into well-drained soil, about 1cm deep and in rows 15cm apart. They enjoy direct sunlight, but can cope with partial shade. Thin out the seedlings while they are small, leaving 2-4cm between plants. Radishes are another good candidate for sowing little and often to provide a continuous harvest.
Fresh herbs can transform your cooking, and it’s really easy to have a go at growing your own. There are lots of different varieties to try as well. You could focus on growing the herbs that you already use the most in your cooking, but it’s also an ideal opportunity to mix things up and try something new.
Basil is super-easy to grow from seed. It needs to grow on a sunny windowsill indoors or in a mini greenhouse unless you have a very sheltered, warm garden. Even if you can provide outdoor shelter, make sure you wait until after the last frost to grow Basil. Oregano is another good choice. I’ve always bought a small plant and potted it on, but you can grow it from seed if you prefer.
Coriander is a bit hardier and fine growing outdoors. It’s a key ingredient in oriental cooking, and lovely in salads too. Make sure you plant this one little and often, as it will flower and go to seed quickly.
Thyme and rosemary are happy outdoors. They are both slower-growing so I usually buy these as established plants.
A quick word on growing mint. It’s brilliant for new potatoes, herbal tea and cocktails, but make sure you grow it in a pot. Plant it in the garden and it’ll quickly take over!
OK, this is a fruit not a vegetable, but I couldn’t leave them out!
Home-grown strawberries taste amazing, and they’re not fussy plants to grow. If you can get hold of some plants they’re well worth a try.
You can plant strawberry plants straight into the soil from April onwards. If space is tight they look great growing in containers, hanging baskets, *stacking planters and modular raised beds that you can build yourself. This is also an easy way to protect the fruits from damp ground, slugs and snails.
The best soil for growing vegetables
To get the best harvest from your vegetable plants, you need to provide them with plenty of nutrients. That means growing them in nutrient rich soil.
The easiest way to give your garden soil a boost is to add organic matter such as manure or homemade compost. Doing this will also help create loose soil, which improves drainage.
Regular application of a *vegetable plant food is another good option for keeping your plants happy.
If you’re growing vegetables in containers, make sure you use good quality *vegetable compost and supplement with vegetable plant food on a regular basis. My post on the best compost for pots has lots of great tips.
More inspiration on easy to grow vegetables and grow your own
For more inspiration on vegetable gardening for beginners and easy to grow vegetables, take a look at these posts.
And for some light-hearted laughs, there’s even a list of vegetable puns and vegetable jokes to enjoy!
Great books on vegetable gardening for beginners
Here’s a few suggestions for books on growing your own vegetables.
I hope this beginners guide to growing vegetables and list of the easiest vegetables to grow helps you to grow a bumper harvest. Have fun!