Alicia DeVore

After a long winter of cold and rain, I started getting excited about growing healthy veggies in spring. There’s nothing like the taste of homegrown, organic vegetables – it’s both healing and delicious. My taste buds crave this fresh eating experience every day.

This desire to eat healthy, fresh vegetables is my main motivator to start planning out my spring garden. Setting up the garden after a long winter is an important first step in growing a bountiful vegetable garden. For beginners, starting with the easiest vegetables to grow can make the process more enjoyable and less daunting.

Let’s begin by laying the foundation for a successful garden. We’ll cover the essentials for setting up your garden, what to plant in the spring, and how to transition seamlessly into your summer garden for a continuous supply of yummy, healthy vegetables.

Ready to discover the 8 best and healthiest vegetables to grow in your garden this year? Keep reading!

Preparing Your Garden

Preparation is the key to 60-70% of success when it comes to growing veggies in your garden. If you take the time to invest in this beginning step, then your garden will do most of the work for you, leaving you to simply enjoy the harvest.

Let’s begin by laying the foundation for a successful garden. Additionally, consider planning for planting in early fall to ensure a bountiful late fall harvest.

Choosing the Right Location for Your Garden

Picking the right spot for your garden is one of the most important steps in ensuring a great harvest. A less-than-ideal location can result in veggies that aren’t as vibrant and tasty. I know that I want some certainty that things will grow when I plant them. Setting up for success will help to make growing your veggies a reality.

Here are some useful tips to help you pick the perfect spot:

  1. Good Sunlight: Your plants need plenty of sunlight to grow strong and healthy. Look for a spot that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. If your garden doesn’t get enough sun, your veggies might end up looking a bit sad and undernourished.

  2. Air Circulation: Good air circulation helps keep your plants dry, which reduces the risk of fungal diseases. Avoid crowded areas or spots that are too sheltered. A gentle breeze can be a plant’s best friend!

  3. Avoid Standing Water: Steer clear of areas with standing water or poor drainage. Too much water can drown your plants’ roots and lead to rot. If you notice puddles that take forever to dry, it’s best to choose another location.

  4. Proximity to a Water Source: Consider how close your garden is to a water source. You don’t want to trek across your yard with a heavy watering can. Convenient access to water makes it easier to keep your plants hydrated, especially during those hot summer months.

  5. Soil Quality: Soil quality is crucial. Test your soil to ensure it’s rich in nutrients. If needed, amend it with organic compost to provide a fertile ground for your veggies. For certain vegetables like beetroots and carrots, ensure the soil is loose and well-drained. Working the soil to remove clumps and stones, and mixing in sand can help create the ideal loose soil for these root vegetables.

Steps for Gardening Success

When you are first starting, use these steps to stay focused on getting a garden started without overwhelming yourself.

  1. Start Small: It’s tempting to go all out and plant a huge garden, but starting small is usually the best approach. Pick a manageable area where you can grow just enough veggies for you and your family. This way, you won’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of work needed. Plus, it’ll be easier to keep track of your plants and ensure they all get the care they need.

  2. Only Grow What You Love: Think about what vegetables you and your family enjoy eating. Focus on planting those favorites first. There’s no point in growing a ton of something that will just sit in the fridge. By growing what you love, you’ll be more motivated to tend to your garden and enjoy the fruits (or veggies!) of your labor.

  3. Avoid Planting Too Much Too Soon: It’s easy to get carried away with enthusiasm, but planting too much too soon can lead to frustration. Stick to a few crops in your first season, and learn the ins and outs of gardening before expanding. It’s better to have a small, successful garden than a large, overwhelming one. Thin young plants to prevent overcrowding and ensure proper growth. Use the list of 9 veggies to grow to start your garden.

  4. Expand Gradually: Once you get the hang of things and feel confident, you can always expand your garden. Start with a manageable space and add more areas as you gain experience and knowledge. Gardening should be enjoyable, not a chore, so take it one step at a time.

8 Easy Veggies for the Garden

If you’re excited about starting your garden but aren’t sure which vegetables to plant, you’re in the right place! Growing your veggies can be incredibly rewarding, especially when you start with crops that are known for being easy to cultivate. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just getting your hands dirty for the first time, these vegetables are perfect for bothspring and summer planting.

  • Tomatoes: A staple in many gardens, tomatoes are relatively easy to grow and can be very productive.

  • Lettuce: Quick to grow and perfect for salads, lettuce is a great choice for beginners.

  • Carrots: These root vegetables are easy to grow and can be harvested in a few months.

  • Radishes: One of the fastest-growing vegetables, radishes are perfect for impatient gardeners.

  • Zucchini: Known for its high yield, zucchini is a great addition to any garden.

  • Peppers: Both sweet and hot peppers are relatively easy to grow and can add a lot of flavor to your dishes.

  • Spinach: This leafy green is not only easy to grow but also packed with nutrients.

  • Bush Beans: With their compact growth form, bush beans are ideal for container gardens and do not require support structures, making them a convenient option for beginners.

Leafy Greens and Crunchy Delights for Early Spring or Fall

Lettuce

Lettuce is truly one of the easiest and most rewarding vegetables you can grow, perfect for both beginners and seasoned gardeners alike. Let’s explore why lettuce should be a staple in your garden:

  1. Generous Crop: Lettuce is known for producing a bountiful harvest of crisp, fresh leaves. With just a little care, you’ll have plenty of greens to enjoy throughout the season.

  2. Planting Tips: Begin by sowing the seeds in well-drained soil. Lettuce loves consistently moist conditions, so make sure to keep the soil damp but not soggy. Plant your seeds lightly and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Water them gently, and soon you’ll see tiny sprouts appearing!

  3. Cool-Season Favorite: Lettuce thrives in cooler weather, making it ideal for early spring or fall planting. However, it’s also adaptable and can be grown throughout the summer with some shade during the hottest parts of the day. Lettuce growth slows in shade and is slower to bolt in extremely hot weather. You can grow lettuce in containers, which makes it great for small spaces like patios or balconies, as well as in traditional garden beds.

  4. Versatile Ingredient: One of the best things about lettuce is its versatility in the kitchen. It’s perfect for creating refreshing salads, adding crunch to sandwiches, and even garnishing your favorite dishes. Having homegrown lettuce at your fingertips means you’ll always have fresh ingredients ready to enhance your meals.

  5. Continuous Harvest: Another perk of growing lettuce is that you can harvest the outer leaves as needed, allowing the plant to continue producing new growth. This “cut-and-come-again” method ensures a steady supply of fresh greens without having to replant constantly.

Radishes

Radishes are a fantastic choice for any garden, especially for those who love seeing quick results. These fast-growing vegetables can be harvested within just a month, making them perfect for impatient gardeners and instant gratification.

  1. Quick Harvest: One of the best things about radishes is how fast they grow. From the time you sow the seeds to the moment you’re pulling them out of the ground, it takes only about three to four weeks. This rapid growth makes them an excellent choice for beginner gardeners and a great way to keep kids engaged in gardening.

  2. Planting Tips: Planting radishes is a breeze. Simply sow the seeds directly into well-drained soil, ensuring they are spaced appropriately to give each root room to develop. Keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged; consistent moisture helps radishes grow crispy and delicious.

  3. Flavorful Addition to Your Garden: Radishes bring a tangy bite and burst of flavor to your garden. Their vibrant red, pink, or white roots add a splash of color to your vegetable patch, and their refreshing taste is a welcome addition to countless dishes. Plus, they help break up compacted soil, making them great companions for other plants.

Carrots

Carrots are a garden favorite, loved for their sweet, crunchy texture and nutritional benefits. If you’re looking to add a delicious and healthy snack to your garden, carrots are an excellent choice.

  1. Perfect Soil Conditions: For optimal root development, carrots require loose, sandy soil. This type of soil allows the roots to grow straight and long without encountering too much resistance. Before planting, loosen the soil to about 12 inches deep and remove any rocks or debris that might obstruct growth. If your garden soil is heavy clay, consider using raised beds or adding sand and compost to improve its texture.

  2. Planting Tips: Sow carrot seeds directly into the garden after the last frost has passed. Sprinkle the seeds thinly in rows, covering them lightly with soil. Keep the soil consistently moist during the germination period, which usually takes about one to three weeks. As the seedlings grow, thin them out to prevent overcrowding and ensure each carrot has enough space to develop properly.

  3. Long Growing Season: Another fantastic feature of carrots is their adaptability to different growing seasons. You can plant them in early spring for a summer harvest and again in late summer for a fall harvest. With a bit of planning, you can enjoy fresh carrots from your garden almost year-round.

Transitioning into the Summer Garden with more Fresh Veggies

Now, let’s take a look at veggies that work best in your summer garden with the same focus of being easy to grow.For optimal growth, ensure you use well-composted soil to provide loose and soft soil under well-drained conditions before planting for the next season.

Here are some great tools and garden products to help you with summer gardening.

Tasty Tomato Plants and More

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are a true gem in the garden world. These vibrant little tomatoes are not only bursting with flavor but also remarkably easy to grow. Here’s why you should consider adding them all the popular vegetables to your garden:

  1. Flawless Flavor: One bite of a Cherry tomato, and you’ll be hooked. Small tomatoes are renowned for their flawless flavor—sweet, tangy, and perfectly balanced. They’re like little bursts of sunshine, capturing the very essence of summer in every bite. Whether you’re snacking on them straight from the vine or using them in recipes, their taste is unparalleled.

  2. Easy to Preserve: If you find yourself with more tomatoes than you can eat fresh (a common and delightful problem), they’re easy to preserve for later use. Simply freeze them on a sheet tray until firm and then transfer them to airtight freezer containers. This method keeps them from sticking together, making it easy to grab a handful whenever you need a taste of summer, even in the depths of winter.

  3. Taste of Summer: Each bite brings memories of sunny days, picnics, and backyard barbecues. Growing small tomatoes in your garden means you’ll always have a piece of summer at your fingertips, ready to brighten your day.

Tips for Growing Tomatoes:

Tomatoes are a fantastic warm-season crop that thrives in well-drained soil and full sun, making them a favorite among gardeners. These versatile tomato plants are perfect for summer harvesting, offering juicy, delicious fruits that can be enjoyed right off the vine.

If you have limited space, fear not—tomatoes are an excellent choice for container gardening, allowing you to grow them on your patio or balcony. They do appreciate moist soil but keep in mind that their roots aren’t the best at taking up water, so consistent watering is key to their success. Adding tomatoes to your garden not only provides a healthy and tasty snack but also brings a burst of color and flavor to your summer meals.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are a delightful addition to any garden, known for their crisp texture and refreshing taste. If you’re looking to grow a versatile vegetable that’s both easy and rewarding, cucumbers are an excellent choice.

  1. Vigorous Climbers: Cucumbers are enthusiastic climbers, which means they thrive when given the right support. Providing a trellis or support structure helps them grow upwards, saving valuable garden space and keeping the fruits clean and easy to harvest. Plus, vertical growth improves air circulation, reducing the risk of diseases.

  2. Ideal Growing Conditions: Cucumbers love fertile soil rich in organic matter. Start by preparing your garden bed with plenty of compost. These veggies also appreciate having ample room to spread out. Ensure each plant has enough space to grow by planting them about 36 inches apart. This gives their sprawling vines plenty of room to roam.

  3. Consistent Moisture: Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during the growing season. Cucumbers have high water content and need regular watering to develop juicy, crisp fruits. Mulching around the plants can help retain moisture and keep weeds at bay, providing a healthy and stress-free environment for your cucumbers to thrive.

  4. Continuous Harvest: Once cucumbers start producing, you’ll enjoy a continuous harvest throughout the growing season. Pick them regularly to encourage more fruits to develop. Freshly picked cucumbers taste far superior to store-bought ones, offering a satisfying and crunchy bite every time.

Green Beans: A Classic Choice

Green beans are a fantastic addition to any garden, offering a simple and rewarding growing experience.

  1. Easy to Grow: Green beans are relatively easy to grow, making them perfect for gardeners of all skill levels. You can plant the seeds directly in the garden after the last frost has passed. With minimal fuss and care, you’ll soon see your green bean plants sprouting and thriving.

  2. Ideal Growing Conditions: To ensure your green beans flourish, plant them in well-drained soil and choose a sunny spot in your garden. They love basking in full sunlight for at least six hours a day. Make sure to trim neighboring plants to give your green beans plenty of room to grow and get the sunlight they need. Regular watering is essential, especially during dry spells, but be careful not to overwater.

  3. Thriving Plants: With the right conditions, green bean plants will thrive and produce an abundant harvest. They’re known for their resilience and ability to adapt to various soil types, as long as the soil is well-drained. Staking or providing support for pole varieties can help maximize space and increase yields.

  4. Continuous Harvest: One of the best things about green beans is their ability to produce continuously throughout the growing season. Regular harvesting encourages new growth, ensuring a steady supply of fresh beans. Pick them when they’re young and tender for the best flavor and texture.

Zucchini and other Summer Squash

Zucchini plants are a wonderful addition to any garden, bringing with them the promise of bountiful harvests of easy vegetables and a plethora of culinary possibilities.

  1. Ideal Growing Conditions: Zucchini plants thrive in sunny spots where they can soak up plenty of sunlight—at least six to eight hours a day. They flourish in moist, well-drained soil, so be sure to water them consistently, especially during dry spells. To keep the soil consistently moist, consider adding mulch around the base of the plants, which helps retain moisture and keeps the roots cool.

  2. Trellising and Maintenance: While zucchini plants are generally easy to grow, they do require some maintenance to manage their vigorous growth. These plants can shoot out tendrils and vines that may conquer your garden if not properly controlled. Providing a trellis or support system encourages vertical growth, saving space and making harvesting easier. Regular pruning of the vines also helps keep the plant healthy and productive, preventing it from overtaking neighboring plants.

  3. Warm-Weather Delight: Zucchini is a warm-weather plant, loving the heat of summer. Plant your zucchini seeds or seedlings after the danger of frost has passed, typically in late spring. With the right care, you’ll soon be rewarded with an abundance of zucchini ready to be transformed into delicious dishes.

  4. Abundant Harvests: Zucchini plants are known for their prolific production. Once they start bearing fruit, you’ll find yourself with a steady supply of fresh zucchini throughout the growing season. Harvest them when they’re small and tender for the best flavor and texture. Don’t let them grow too large, as they can become tough and seedy.

Here are some trellis and garden support ideas that I would recommend to utilize your garden space by planting vertically.

Okra

With its fast growth and frequent harvests, okra offers both satisfaction and versatility in the kitchen. Here’s why you should consider growing this remarkable plant:

  1. Warm-Season Crop: Okra thrives in warm conditions, making it an excellent choice for summer gardens. It’s a fast-growing crop that can produce multiple harvests throughout the season. If you’re looking for a plant that rewards you quickly, okra is definitely up your alley.

  2. Ideal Growing Conditions: To get the best results, plant okra in full sunlight. These sun-loving plants need at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day to grow robustly. Ensure the soil is moist but well-drained; okra doesn’t like to sit in waterlogged soil. Regular watering and good drainage will keep your plants happy and productive.

  3. Southern and Northern Climates: While okra is traditionally associated with southern climates due to its love for heat, it can also be grown in northern climates with a bit of planning. In cooler regions, start the seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost date and transplant them outside once the temperatures warm up. This gives okra a head start and helps it thrive even in shorter growing seasons.

  4. Continuous Harvest: One of the joys of growing okra is its prolific nature. Once the plants start producing, they’ll continue to provide harvests throughout the growing season. Pick the pods when they are young and tender—about 2-4 inches long—for the best flavor and texture. Frequent harvesting encourages the plant to produce even more pods.

  5. Attractive Plants: Okra plants aren’t just productive; they’re also quite attractive. With their tall, sturdy stems and beautiful hibiscus-like flowers, they add an ornamental touch to your garden. The blooms are usually yellow with a deep red or purple center, adding a splash of color before turning into distinctive green pods.

Planting and Caring for Your Vegetable Garden

There’s nothing quite like the sweet, juicy flavors and vibrant textures of vegetables fresh from your garden. If you’re ready to dive into the world of vegetable gardening, here are a few friendly tips to get you started:

  1. Get to Know the Basics: Learning the basics of vegetable gardening and planning is the first step to a successful harvest. From soil preparation to watering techniques, a little knowledge goes a long way. Remember to thin young plants to ensure proper growth and development of your vegetables.

  2. Pick the Perfect Spot: Choosing the right site for your garden is crucial. Look for a sunny spot with well-drained soil where your veggies can thrive.

  3. Choose Your Crops: Decide which vegetables to grow based on your taste and local climate. Some veggies are easier to grow than others, so start with varieties that suit your skill level.

  4. Prepare and Preserve: Once your garden is flourishing, you’ll want to know how to prepare and preserve your harvest. From canning to freezing, there are many ways to enjoy your garden-fresh produce all year round.

  5. Plan Your Garden: Get a “starter” garden plan with easy-to-grow vegetables and companion planting techniques to maximize your garden’s potential.

  6. Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor: Finally, enjoy the best vegetables and fruit you’ve ever eaten, straight from your garden to your table.

When to Plant What: A Guide for Beginners

  1. Check the Almanac’s Best Planting Dates: One of the best resources for gardeners is the Farmer’s Almanac, which provides the best planting dates based on your local frost dates. By using this tool, you can determine the optimal times to plant your vegetables, ensuring they have the best chance to grow and thrive. Just enter your location, and you’ll get personalized advice tailored to your region.

  2. Plant at the Right Time for Your Region and Climate: Different vegetables have different needs, and planting them at the right time for your region and climate is crucial. Pay attention to whether a vegetable is a cool-season or warm-season crop. Cool-season crops like lettuce and spinach need to be planted early in the spring or late in the summer, while warm-season crops like tomatoes and peppers should be planted after the danger of frost has passed.

  3. Monitor Local Weather: Keep an eye on your local weather forecasts, especially as planting time approaches. Unexpected frosts or heatwaves can affect your plants, so being prepared to protect young seedlings or delay planting by a few days can make a big difference. Floating row covers or garden cloches can offer protection against unexpected cold snaps.

  4. Companion Planting: Consider companion planting to maximize the health and productivity of your garden. Some plants grow better together, offering mutual benefits like pest control or improved growth. For example, planting basil near tomatoes can enhance their flavor and repel harmful insects.

Enjoying Your Harvest: Savoring Tasted Garden Fresh Food

As you enjoy the fruits (and veggies!) of your labor, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction that comes from savoring garden-fresh food.

The vibrant flavors and rich textures of homegrown produce are unmatched, offering a culinary delight that store-bought vegetables simply can’t compete with. Growing your vegetables not only provides a healthy and delicious addition to your meals but also brings a deep sense of accomplishment and connection to nature. So, relish every moment of your gardening journey and the bountiful harvest it brings.

Other Resources to Help You Garden:

Uncover the Unexpected Health Benefits of Gardening for Mind and Body

Growing the Best Fall and Winter Vegetables for a Bountiful Harvest

Best Irrigation for Raised Bed Gardens: Garden in Minutes Review

22 Affordable Gardening Gift Guide Ideas for Small Spaces

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About the Author

Alicia has been teaching her whole life from elementary teacher to workshops for beginning gardeners.  Go HERE to read Alicia's story into gardening from plant killer to pro grower and garden coach.  If you want to send Alicia a quick message, then use her contact page HERE.

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