Vegetables in a garden

Top 10 easy to grow vegetable, fruit & salad seeds and plants for beginners

Do you dream of harvesting your own home grown foods, but just don’t know where to start?

Wondering which vegetables are easy to grow? From pots to plots, there are vegetables to suit gardens of every size. Growing your own isn’t complicated. Here’s our infographic, which we’ve also broken down into handy, bite-size pieces. Read on!

1. Salad Leaves

Crunchy fresh leaves with a fantastic range of textures and flavours. Try sowing our easy Salad ‘Speedy Mix’ throughout the summer months, and you’ll be cutting fresh leaves for your sandwiches just 3 weeks later! Better still, they will continue growing so you can harvest them again and again. See our full range of salad seeds here.

2. Radishes

Spice up your salads with crunchy, peppery radishes. They’re easy to grow in containers, or sow them directly into the ground throughout the summer for a succession of crunchy, colourful crops. ‘French Breakfast’ is a tried and tested favourite variety, while ‘Rainbow Mixed’ will give you a colourful visual treat for your plate as well as masses of flavour!

3. Potatoes

A fun crop to grow Plant potatoes during late February and March in potato bags that are only part filled with compost. When the green shoots begin to appear above the soil, simply cover them with more compost. Repeat until the bag is full, and then you only need remember to water them! The real fun comes at the end of the season, 10 to 20 weeks later when the foliage starts to yellow and die back. Tip the bag out and rummage around in the soil to collect up your own home grown potatoes. Potatoes are such easy vegetables to grow at home!

4. Peas

Peas are a trouble free crop that enjoy cooler weather. Sow them directly into the ground from March to June and look forward to the incredible sweet flavour of fresh picked peas from June to August. All they need is support for their stems – simply erect some chicken wire or netting between supports at each end of the row. You’ll be amazed at how good fresh peas taste – and the more that you pick them, the more they produce!

5. Spring onions

Give your salads a tangy crunch with some quick-growing spring onions. Companion planting with mint will help to deter onion fly. Try ‘White Lisbon’ for a crop that’ll overwinter, or ‘Performer’ for a milder taste.

6. Broad Beans

What could be simpler! Sow Broad Beans in spring in small 7.5cm (3″) pots of compost, and within a few weeks these quick growing beans will make sturdy plants that can be planted out in the garden. If that sounds like too much work then sow them directly in the ground. Watch the bees pollinate their pretty flowers and before you know it you will be harvesting a bumper crop of fresh picked beans from June onwards, with a flavour that puts supermarket beans to shame. Try ‘Jubilee Hysor’ for a fantastic yield, or ‘Perla’ for a gourmet crop.

7. Runner Beans

Almost as simple as broad beans and you can sow them in the same way. Runner beans are climbers so give them plenty of space and train them onto wires or a plant support frame. Keep them well watered and they will reward you with a constant supply in summer. Regular picking is essential – but that won’t be a problem when they taste so good! If you are short on space, why not try dwarf runner bean ‘Hestia’.

8. Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic are virtually maintenance-free crops, and are such easy vegetables to grow. Simply plant onion bulbs and individual garlic cloves on well drained soil in spring or autumn – then leave them to it! In late summer when the foliage yellows and dies back, you can lift them and dry them in the sun before storing them. What could be easier?

9. Tomatoes

Tomato plants are so quick that you can almost watch them grow, so they are the ideal easy vegetable for kids to cultivate. Choose a bush variety like ‘Cherry Cascade’ that can be planted in hanging baskets and window boxes. Bush varieties don’t require training or side-shooting, so you only need to feed and water them before the fruit starts to pour from the plant!

10. Beetroot

For a super-easy to grow root vegetable try beetroot. Often used in salads but equally tasty eaten warm and freshly boiled as a vegetable. Beetroot can be sown directly into moist ground from March to July. As they grow, thin the seedlings to about 5cm apart. From May to September you can look forward to harvesting your own colourful, succulent beetroot. ‘Boltardy’ is a very popular variety, and ‘Boldor’ has vibrant orange flesh and a sweet flavour.

Here’s the full infographic – there are a couple of ways to share it at the bottom.

How Much Sunlight Do Vegetables Need Video

How Much Sunlight Do Vegetables Need To Grow? It’s a question many seasoned gardeners have. Different plants need different amounts of sunlight depending on certain factors.

We’ve rounded up all the information you need to ensure optimal results in the veggie garden. We also have a garden watering schedule and companion planting chart to help you on your way.

In this video, you’ll learn how long your veggies need to be exposed to the sun on a daily basis in order to thrive. If you want to achieve the ultimate results and a bountiful harvest, this is critical information to take into consideration.

Click play above to watch the video tutorial now ^

How Much Sunlight Do Plants Need To Grow

The infographic above from Mercola outlines how much sunlight your vegetable garden requires. This can be useful when planning your garden as you can group together vegetables that need more sunlight, along with vegetables and plants that need less.

You can also see plants that need less sunlight that could possibly be grown indoors or in shadier locations. If you want the best results it is all about the light and shade so it’s vital to get it right.

How Much Water Do Plants Need To Grow

Watering is also critical and this guide from Desima shows you how many times per week to water different types of plants. Keep in mind that if you’re watering a container or potted garden, you need to water more often. Plants with very dense or new soil may need to be watered less often.

A good rule of thumb is to actually use your thumb! Stick it about one to two inches deep into the soil. If it feels dry, then it’s time to water. If it still feels damp, you can probably wait another day. Watering can be tricky but with proper observation, you can become an expert in no time.

What To Plant Together

This helpful infographic from TipsPlants shows you which plants grow well together. As you can see, the ‘bad neighbor’ plants don’t. Why? There are many reasons some plants don’t work well together.

Take tomatoes and pumpkins for example. Both of these plants are ‘spreaders’ and grow far and wide and become entangled.

Two plants also might attract different species of garden helpers and pests. Planting these side-by-side can destroy the garden ‘helpers’, by allowing the pests to take over.

There is a much to consider when planting your garden. If you want the best results, be sure to refer to these charts.

When To Plant Vegetables

How your garden grows depends on when you sow. This infographic from A Typical English Home is brilliant and has all the relevant information that you can take into consideration and you can download this Printable on their website.

Be sure to check out our post that shows you the vegetables that you can magically regrow in your kitchen. View here.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Q. I started preparing my vegetable garden for planting this past weekend. At one time, the garden was in full sun. Now, it is shaded by midafternoon. I’ve never had great yields with my clay soils and was debating moving the whole garden to the southern side of the house, where I get full sun. How much sunlight do I need for most vegetables? Should I bother to move the garden? — David M., Carteret

A. If you get full sun until midafternoon, you can still grow a great variety of vegetables. Many of the sun-loving vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, melons, squash, corn and beans grow best with eight hours to 10 hours of direct sunlight. You can grow these vegetables with as little as six hours or seven hours of direct sun, but they will not yield as well.

It sounds like you really need to improve the heavy clay soils in your garden. If you have access to compost, till 3 inches of well-rotted compost or peat moss into the top 12 inches of soil to improve conditions for roots. Test the soil and adjust the pH to 6 to 6.5 (which is good for most vegetables).

Gardens that are shaded in the afternoon are often ideal for growing leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and collards, as well as root crops such as beets, carrots, turnips and radishes. These vegetables will grow in as little as four hours to five hours of direct sunlight. More sunlight will increase yields of root crops.

If you don’t have the energy or time to create a large vegetable bed, consider growing some vegetables in large containers on the south side of your property. Many vegetable varieties were developed for container growth and small garden spaces. For many sun-loving vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers, a 3- to 5-gallon container will do. Smaller fruited varieties of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants can often be grown successfully in moderate to large containers. Make sure containers drain properly and check daily for watering needs.

I have grown many vegetable varieties in large containers with stakes and small cages or trellises to keep plants upright and supported. I have grown ‘bush celebrity’ and ‘Sungold’ tomatoes, as well as many of the hot pepper varieties in medium to large pots.

Q. What are the best heirloom tomatoes and what are your favorites? Any tricks to growing heirlooms? I had a great number of cracked and diseased tomatoes last year that I could not harvest.
— Katie, Bordentown
A. Heirlooms can sometimes have more disease and pest problems, as well as fruit-cracking, in comparison to hybrids.

The traditional definition for an heirloom plant is one that has been passed down from one generation to another. By saving seeds of the fruit, the progeny will have the same characteristics as the parent.

Hybrid plants have two different parents and the progeny from a hybrid plant will not consistently represent the characteristics of the hybrid. Hybrids also display what is called “hybrid vigor,” meaning that these plants can often tolerate increased environmental stress and exhibit resistance to a variety of disease and pest problems.

Here are some tips for growing heirlooms successfully:

— Select varieties that you like, but will also perform best in your particular garden. What works in one garden may not work in another. That is why you need to keep a garden log of plant names and locations as well as pest problems, culture, controls used, yield and flavor to determine what will work best for you.

— Provide an organic, rich soil and do not overfertilize. Mix 4 inches of well-rotted compost or peat moss into the top 12 inches of soil with a shovel or roto-tiller before planting. I like to add an inch or two of dried, composted manure into beds for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers. Avoid using manures around leafy vegetables or root crops. These natural sources of nutrients will encourage proper nutrient uptake, water retention and aeration for roots.

— It is often wise to plant heirloom tomatoes and peppers on raised beds to control moisture and prevent water-logged soils. Heirlooms are more sensitive to root rot diseases. I grow my tomatoes and peppers in metal cages or with tomato stakes to keep plants upright.

— Vertical growth and proper spacing of heirlooms at 30 inches to 36 inches apart will provide better air circulation and sun penetration for plants. This practice can help to reduce foliar diseases.

— Water heirlooms at the base and try not to get the leaves wet. This can help reduce the incidence of foliar diseases like early blight on tomatoes. Keep heirlooms evenly moist throughout the season to reduce the incidence of fruit-cracking. Harvest tomatoes as soon as they are ripe and in some cases, once they begin to show significant color, you can continue to ripen them inside in a paper bag.

Some of my favorite heirloom tomatoes include ‘Mortgage Lifter,’ ‘Aunt Ruby’s German Green’ and ‘Isis Candy.’ My overall hybrid favorite varieties are ‘Ramapo,’ ‘Jet Star’ and ‘Celebrity,’ for slicing tomatoes. ‘Sungold’ cherry tomatoes are my overall favorite for salads and eating off the vine.

Know Your Soil

Elizabeth Murphy literally wrote the book when it comes to soil. Her book, Building Soil: A Down-to-Earth Approach: Natural Solutions for Better Gardens & Yards, is a comprehensive guide to creating the perfect living medium for all your outdoor plants.

Murphy recommends a test as the first step to soil health.

“A soil test is very helpful, especially starting out. The test determines if the soil lacks a necessary nutrient. For the serious home gardener, test every three years, or when you notice problems or a decline in production.”

We compared home soil test kits and a lab test and this is what we found.

Simple Guidelines for Building Good Soil

  • Provide necessary nutrients by testing soil and adding appropriate organic fertilizers.
  • Feed your soil (yes, the soil is a living thing) on a schedule, using bulky organic amendments as often as possible.
  • Keep your soil covered with mulch, living plants, organic amendments, or green manures (winter soil-enriching crops).

Organic Fertilizer | Amazon

Organic Fertilizer | Amazon

Organic Fertilizer | Amazon

Organic Fertilizer | Amazon

Tests and amendments aside, Murphy says there’s no substitute for becoming familiar with your soil.

“Know your soil texture.

That’s defined as the amount of sand, silt, and clay, and determines the soil’s properties.

In soil with a high sand or clay content, modify what and how you grow to match the soil.”

~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛

Next:

  • Veggies you can grow in containers
  • Veggies you can grow in clay soil
  • Veggies you can grow in sandy soil

By Kent Page McGroarty

Guest writer for Wake Up World

As wonderful as growing your own food is, soil quality is often an issue. While most plants and vegetables thrive in loamy, well-draining soil, amateur and pro farmers/gardeners must still contend with compact, clay soil, acidic soil, rocky soil or other soil types that are not ideal for growing food.

Luckily there are numerous options for dealing with poor soil, including adding nutrients, utilizing raised garden beds and planting vegetables that are easy to grow.

Check a few of these veggies out!

Tomato

Tomatoes do well whether planted from seed or starter plants, however if you live in a cooler climate starter plants are best. Plant tomatoes in full sun and water daily unless you live in a particularly rainy area. Dig deep to create strong root systems with starter plants. Tomatoes also do well in containers. Soil with a pH balance of 6 or 7 is ideal for tomatoes; add lime to increase a soil’s pH level and sulfur to decrease it.

Zucchini

Perhaps the easiest food to grow, well, ever, this squash family member is frequently the subject of jokes among gardeners for its almost weed-like ability to produce the green veggie. Two plants should provide more than enough zucchini. Their flowers are also edible! Water them heavily every other day. Zucchini also does well in soil with a pH balance of 6 or 7, and thrives in full sun or partial shade. Butternut squash is another squash option that is easy to grow.

Radish

An easy root veggie to grow in the fall or spring, radishes grow quickly and will require pulling several weeks after planting to avoid ruin. Plant them in a sunny area in soil that preferably has a pH balance of 6 or 7; water lightly every few days.

Carrot

The carrot does well even in rocky soil, though keep in mind the veggie itself will look crooked when pulled if grown in rocky conditions. Soil should stay moist, but remember that carrots require less water as they reach maturity. Grow carrots in soil with a pH balance of 5 to 6 if possible, and ensure they receive about half a day’s worth of sunshine.

Corn

Another easy one to grow, corn requires space more than anything else to thrive. Plant two rows parallel to one another to allow for pollination, and avoid letting the soil become too dry. A pH balance of 6 or 6.5 is best, as is a location that features “all day” sunlight.

Green or String Beans

Green or string beans not only are easy to grow, but also return nitrogen to the soil. Grow beans during warm weather as they are not fans of the cold, and harvest them while “young” for tender and sweet-tasting peas. Peas do best in soil with a pH balance of 5.8 to 7, as well as full or partial sunlight.

Beets

Try to aerate soil as much as possible before planting beets as this root veggie does best in looser soil. Add lime if your soil is too acidic, and plant seeds at least 2 inches apart. Beets grow best with half a day’s sunshine in soil with a pH balance in the 6 range.

These are just a few of the foods that do well in poorer soil! Adding compost to poor soil is generally an ideal way to get the results you want. If your soil is simply too poor to grow anything, look into container gardening and raised bed options.

Happy planting!

About the author:

Kent Page McGroarty is a blogger for Survivalbased.com who has written extensively about health and fitness since 2006, focusing specifically on natural health and wellness. She has previously written for Livestrong, SF Gate Home and Garden, AZ Central Healthy Living (and many other online magazines and websites) and currently contributes to SlendHer.com.

Check out more of her tips on the Survivalbased Blog.

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Clear the area. Remove grass, rocks, or other debris. To dig up grass, use a spade to cut the sod into small squares and pry from the planting area with the end of the spade.

Loosen the soil. Work the soil to a depth at least 8 inches (12 is better) with a power tiller or garden fork.

Improve the soil. Work a minimum of 2 to 3 inches of compost or soil conditioner into the soil with a tiller or fork. This helps drainage, the ability to hold nutrients, and promotes beneficial micro–organism activity. This is also a good time to add lime or sulfur to adjust pH as recommended by a soil test. If you don’t have time to send off a soil sample for testing, use a purchased kit, or take your chances that the pH is okay and test it later.

Use a steel garden rake to rake the soil smooth and level before planting.

In extremely hard or poor soil, consider building a raised bed to provide a better growing environment. Or, grow in containers.

Your soil will improve with each season as you add lots of compost and organic matter. In time it will look like what gardeners call black gold–a rich, dark, organic soil that holds moisture and nutrients yet drains well.

Understand that the soil is alive with microscopic and visible creatures that contribute to the well being of your plants. Read the sections on Soil and Soil Building and Composting in the Learn & Grow Library for more details about building good soil. Also read the article about the soil food web in the Soil and Soil Building section of the Learn & Grow Library.

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