Spring is here and it’s time to start thinking about this summer’s vegetable garden. If you’re new to vegetable gardening, you’ll want to select plants that will provide you with some easy success so you’ll be motivated to continue developing your green thumb. Even if you’re an experienced gardener, you’ll still enjoy growing low-maintenance veggies.
Listed below are some of the easiest vegetables to grow. You can buy seeds for these veggies at your local nursery or garden center, and you can even find perfectly good seeds at discount stores such as Dollar Tree and Dollar General.
1. Green beans
Green bean seeds can be planted close together. I often space them just 5 to 6 inches apart. They grow well sown directly in the garden or in containers, and they grow fast, with sprouts pushing above the soil’s surface just a few days after planting. They are relatively disease-free, and the only pests that really want to eat them are rabbits, which can generally be kept out with some well-placed wire fencing.
I pick up a few tomato plants or seedlings from the local nursery every spring, but it’s also not too hard to grow tomatoes from seed either. Tomato seedlings from a nursery grow well planted directly in the garden, and I also like to buy varieties that are specifically developed for growing in containers. I like a nice mix of larger sandwich tomatoes and small cherry tomatoes that are perfect for sprinkling in salads. Tomatoes need a lot of water for good fruit development, but they are otherwise fairly easy to grow.
3. Leaf lettuce
I’ve never grown traditional heads of lettuce like what the grocery stores stock. Instead, I plant leaf lettuces from seeds. They are fast-growing and low-maintenance other than simply making sure they are well watered. I plant lettuce in large containers or in taller raised beds because the rabbits can’t get at it as easily. Leaf lettuces like cooler spring temperatures, and I typically plant seeds in March or April and get rid of the plants by mid to late June where I live in the Midwest. Leaf lettuce can be harvested, allowed to grow more, and harvested again, repeating the process until the weather turns hot and the the lettuce begins to get bitter or goes to seed.
Like its close cousin leaf lettuce, spinach grows easily from seeds. I plant it alongside lettuce in my container garden, and I harvest both together, making fresh salads with a mixture of lettuce and spinach. Spinach also dislikes hot temperatures, and your plants are done once they begin flowering and going to seed. Just pull them and toss them in your compost pile.
This garden giant grows quickly and easily, and it needs a lot of space. There’s nothing like roasted or grilled zucchini slices with some seasonings or with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese. My family likes zucchini bread or Zoodle-style zucchini noodle/pasta dishes. We also like to include zucchini slices in hobo-style campfire dinners (individual foil packets containing ground beef, veggies, cheese, and seasonings) that we cook over the fire or on a camp grill.
Cucumbers are another easy garden veggie to grow from seeds. They grow on climbing vines, so you’ll need to provide support in the form of a trellis or iron or chain-link fence, or a lattice planter. They also like a lot of water.
Radishes are a great springtime vegetable. Plant them from seed and they’re ready to harvest fairly early in just a few weeks. They add a nice mild bite to fresh salads, or eat them sliced and dipped in ranch dressing. Radishes like their soil to be kept moist.
What are you growing in your garden this spring and summer? Share your successes and challenges in the comments.