Easiest vegetables to grow: Create a low-effort veg patch in your garden

Easiest vegetables to grow
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The easiest vegetables to grow can transform your garden into a self-sustaining paradise. There's something special about picking fresh veg from your own yard – and there’s no reason why you can’t give it a go. Until you've tasted a tomato picked fresh off the vine, or harvested peas from the pod, you haven’t really tasted vegetables at their best! 

The good news is that you don't need a lot of special gardening equipment such as the best tillers or the best chainsaws to get going with this (although if you need to keep your lawn looking good too, check out this guide to the best gas lawn mowers). All of the easiest vegetables to grow can be started off from seed, so you’ll need little more than a spare patch of ground, a fork to dig over the ground and a watering can or hose to keep them well watered. If space is short, you can grow many of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers, so you’ll need some earth or compost to fill them.

Kendall Platt, The Mindful Gardening Coach, explains some of the benefits of growing your own vegetables. "The benefits of gardening and food growing for health and wellbeing are far ranging. Not only does digging, carrying heavy watering cans and squatting while you weed give your bigger muscle groups a workout, but potting on your seedlings into larger containers improves manual dexterity and also allows your mind to find some semblance of quiet.

While you sow your seeds, dig holes in the ground to transplant your plants into and a whole host of other gardening activities your mind is focused on the task at hand allowing you to achieve a state of mindfulness and calm your busy brain, enabling some relief from daily stresses and the undercurrent of anxiety running through many of our lives."

Easiest vegetables to grow

1. Beets

Fresh beets from your garden have so much taste compared with those you buy in a food store! The earthy flavor is somehow sweeter, and they are delicious whether you roast or boil them. You may need to thin the plants out as they grow, and keep well watered. Harvest beets when they are at golf ball size for the most tender vegetable. 

2. Cucumber

Choose a variety of cucumber that can be grown outside, so that seeds can be planted straight into the ground, or started in small pots filled with compost. If sowing directly into the ground, wait until any risk of frost has passed. Sow in groups of three and keep each group about 20in or so away from each other - cucumber plants have a tendency to wander! You can grow along the ground (mulch under the plants to keep the fruit off the dirt), or train them along a fence or other support.

3. Carrots

Carrots are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Choose a small variety for quick results, and remember to sow every couple of weeks so that you get a continuous supply. Try to sow in a stone-free ground, if you want your carrots to grow straight. If your soil is very rocky or heavy, sow in deep containers or a raised bed filled with compost.

Easiest vegetables to grow

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. Green beans

Bush beans grow on a shorter, bushy plant - and can be ready in seven or eight weeks. Sow in succession every couple of weeks to ensure a steady supply. Beans that grow higher - and need to have support of a trellis or teepee made from garden sticks (such as runner beans) - take longer to come to fruition, but you will get a longer harvesting season. 

5. Lettuce

If you choose a mix of baby lettuce seeds you can be picking off a selection of salad leaves for your plate in just a few weeks. Founder of Lazy Flora, Claire Ransom, says lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to grow because: “It takes up very little space, which means it can be grown among flowers and taller vegetable crops, in beds, raised beds and containers. Although lettuce thrives in full sun, it’s one of the few edible plants that will also tolerate some shade.’’ 

6. Peas

Peas are so delicious when they are fresh that it’s very likely they will get eaten before they even get near a cooking pan! Sow your seeds about 2-3ins apart, and they’ll be ready to harvest in around nine weeks. For a more prolific harvest choose ‘mangetout’ varieties, where the whole pod can be open - such as snow peas and sugar snaps. 

7. Pumpkin

The only real requirement for pumpkins is having a big space to let them wander in! Claire Ransom says pumpkins are one of the easiest vegetables to grow: “Pumpkins are prolific, fast growing and fun to grow! Provide them with a sunny spot, fertile soil, and plenty of space and you’ll be rewarded with an abundant crop in a short time. There are many different varieties to choose from, so opt for smaller varieties if space is limited.’’

What the expert says…

Kendall Platt, The Mindful Gardening Coach, says, "Recent studies have shown that just 5-7 minutes of daily gardening is as good for your mental wellbeing as vigorous exercise. 

And this is all before you’ve actually eaten your homegrown produce, which if grown organically will be far better for your overall health when consumed than non-organically grown supermarket fruit and vegetables."

8. Radish

Radishes are happy growing in slightly cooler temperatures and can survive light frosts. The spring radishes (usually small and red with a peppery flavor but can be white, pink, purple and bi-colored) are incredibly quick to grow. Radishes grow happily in well-drained soil, in full or partial sun. You could be harvesting spring radishes in as little as three weeks.

9. Swiss chard

Swiss chard can be very pretty in the vegetable garden if you choose a variety with multicolored stems. It’s a member of the beet family and is full of nutrients and vitamins A, C and K. Claire Ransom says Swiss chard is one of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed: “Swiss Chard is great to grow as an alternative to spinach. It’s also one of few vegetables that tolerates both hot and cold temperatures, it requires no successional sowing, and is rarely affected by pests and diseases.’’

10. Zucchini

Like pumpkins, you need to have plenty of space for your zucchini plants to spread out but you will find a couple of plants will keep you well supplied. Claire Ransom says: “Zucchini is super easy to grow from seed and one of the best edible plants for new gardeners to grow. They’re fast growing, easy to care for, and although they can take up a lot of space, they certainly earn their keep with an abundant crop of fruits and edible flowers.’’

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Naomi MacKay

Naomi MacKay has been a freelance writer and editor for the past 20 years. She previously made the move from local newspapers and consumer technology magazines into the gardening press as Assistant Editor at Garden Answers magazine, and has also worked for the Royal Horticultural Society, and writes garden columns for a number of publications.

With contributions from