Ten easy vegetables to grow in your garden this season. These crops are hardy, easy to grow, and require little care. Each variety can also be used in so many different ways with your meal planning or a great summer snack.
Whether you are a beginner gardener or looking to expand an existing one, this list will give some inspiration on things you can include in your gardening plan this spring.
These ten things are not just easy to grow but also easy to prepare. I enjoy growing produce that can be used in lots of different ways or enjoyed right from the garden.
This post will dive into annual garden plants. These are the plants that will grow, produce a harvest, and die off at the end of the season. Each one will need to be replanted every year (annual). So, while some perennials (like blueberries) are super easy to grow, and care for, that is a discussion for another time.
Here we are talking all about our spring/summer gardens.
These are plants I have had personal experience growing for multiple years. They are the things I buy each spring and get a dedicated spot in the garden plot.
Besides minor pruning, thinning, and basic care, these plants take up less time and energy to care for.
I am a Pacific Northwest gardener in zone 8b. We typically have a colder, wet climate in the early spring months and mild summers. What grows well for me may not be the same for you.
To make sure you are growing the right things for your area check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
If you want to boost your gardening confidence right away start with a zucchini plant or two. Zucchinis are extremely easy to grow and produce tons of fruit throughout the season. Your refrigerator (and possibly your neighbors) will be overflowing with fresh zucchini.
Zucchini plants grow really fast and need a larger area to expand. The fruit grows rapidly as well, so be sure to check it often or they will quickly increase in size.
Zucchini is very versatile, well-rounded, and can be used in many different ways. It's great to grill, bake, used in stir fry's, soups, or added to baked goods.
Zucchini seeds can be sowed directly into the ground, once weather permitting, or started in pots and then transferred.
Some recipes that use Zucchini:
Peas (Snow and Sugar Snap)
Peas are a great plant to add to any garden. The kids absolutely love getting to pick them throughout the spring and summer and they are also great to incorporate into salads and snack boards. Mine, however, don't usually make it out of the garden.
Disclaimer: While they are really easy to grow, they do not produce quite as much as some of the other plants we will talk about. The freshness of a pea right from the garden is something I look forward to each year. Bagged peas will never taste the same.
Peas are very tolerant to colder weather so they make a great first plant to get started. I have planted peas as early as March, well before my last frost, and they still thrive.
Typically I start out with pea plants and by the time they are done for the season, it's time to add something in its place.
Peas can also be planted a second time before the first frost for another fall crop.
Both varieties need support. So a trellis or climbing pole is needed to support growth. Because they grow vertically this also maximizes your space. If you harvest the peas often, another round will start to grow.
Ours hardly ever make it inside and it's the one plant I never have to worry about picking. The kids take care of that for me.
Green Beans (Pole or Bush)
There are two types of beans you can add to your garden. Pole and bush beans. What is the difference between the two? It has to do with the support they need to grow.
Pole (or runner) beans need a taller support structure like a pole or trellis. They grow vertically which is great if you are looking to maximize your space because they grow up not out. They can get as tall as 6'-7'.
Bush beans do not run but rather grow in one bush that gets only a couple of feet tall and wide. They can become top-heavy so you may need to support them with a gardening steak.
Either variety is very easy to grow and when harvested regularly will produce huge yields.
Green beans are a great choice if canning and preserving are some of your goals. They are also great as a side dish, grilled, or in a stir fry.
My friend Sarah at Sustainable Cooks has tons of great resources on canning and preserving things from your garden.
Another cold tolerant plant that is great to get started right away is carrots. They can be sown directly in the ground prior to the last frost and can be harvested throughout the summer.
Plant a second crop a few weeks before the first frost and enjoy the second round in the fall and winter.
Carrots require soft, fertile soil to grow and need to be thinned out as they start to sprout. This makes them perfect for container gardening. Typically with containers, the soil is softer which is ideal for growing carrots.
Some recipes to use your carrots in:
Summer (Yellow) Squash
Very similar to zucchini, summer squash is a very hardy plant and will produce tons of fruit over a long season. Harvest regularly and you will have a never-ending supply of fresh yellow squash to add to your dishes.
Pair it with your zucchini, tomatoes, and onions to make a ratatouille or summer stew. Or toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and throw on the grill.
Lettuce (or other leafy greens)
Lettuce and other leafy greens are very popular items to add to gardens. When harvested at the right time they are just so crisp and fresh.
Lettuce grows really fast and can be harvested in large quantities or just a few leaves as needed.
Lettuce is another cold crop plant and enjoyed the spring and early summer months. Once it gets too hot, lettuce will quickly bolt and go to seed. Plant new seeds every two weeks to have continuous plants.
When harvesting lettuce the best practice is to eat the outer leaves as needed, leaving the center. The plant will continue to grow and produce more, extending its life.
I am wholeheartedly convinced there is nothing better from the garden than a fresh, organic, homegrown tomato. Berries are a very close second, but the tomato still wins. If you plant anything in your garden make it a tomato plant.
Tomatoes are probably the most common plant home gardeners grow. They grow great in containers or directly in the ground, making them perfect for any space. Following basic care instructions and you will have a healthy plant with tons of fruit.
Tomatoes are also a great option for preserving and canning. There are various ways to freeze or can different varieties of tomatoes. They can be made into salsas, sauces, left whole, crushed, or pureed.
Tomatoes also come in such fun varieties. I agonize over all the options as we love them all and it's so hard to decide. Cherry, Roma, beefsteak, grape, san Marzano and unique variety like chocolate cherry or Mister Stripy. The list just keeps going.
Select tomato plants based on what they will be used for. My goal is to can and preserve this year so a pasty tomato such as a Roma or San Marzano will be added this season.
If you are just looking for things to pick and eat, cherry and grape tomatoes are great choices. Or go with a Beefsteak to slice and add to sandwiches or burgers. Whatever your needs are, there is a tomato for it.
Are you an impatient gardener? When seed packets say 60, 80, 90, or 120 days to harvest how do you enjoy the fruit of your labor in the meantime? Want almost instant reward from your garden? Plant a radish!
In just 21 days from plant to harvest, you could have a fresh radish to top a dish or add to a pickling brine and enjoy for weeks.
Radishes not only take very little time but also take up a small amount of space and require little care. Plant new seeds every two weeks and you will have a summer-long supply of fresh radishes.
I never consumed beets regularly until I grew my own. And to be honest they changed my entire perspective on this produce. I have only grown beets a few times but am always surprised by how quickly they grow and how great they taste.
They are also a cold-weather crop so they can be sown directly into the ground relatively early and need very little care.
And that color! Beets are just so pretty and add a pop of color to whatever you are making.
The stems and leaves are also edible and can be cooked up and enjoyed. Like this sauteed beet greens recipe.
Some recipes to use your beets in:
Onions are great to add to any garden for lots of reasons. They are very easy to grow, very unique when it comes to harvesting, and used in just about everything.
Most plants require the fruit or veggie to be at a certain level of ripeness before it can be harvested. Not an onion. Onions can be picked at any time.
They can start to be harvested just after a few weeks to be used as green onions or wait until they are at their full size and any in between. I love onions in my garden because I can pick them throughout the season to use in my cooking.
Once they are at the end of their season, if harvested properly, onions can last for months in a cold dark place. It's not uncommon to make Christmas dinner with onions I grew in the summer.
Learn more about growing onions.
if you have an abundance of onions in your garden, use them in a French Onion Soup. You won't be disappointed.
While I'm sure there are so many other things that could be added to the list, these are my top ten things that are easy to grow, harvest, and consume. I hope these top ten will inspire you to add something this season!
Looking for a place to get good-quality seeds? Check out True Leaf Market. I started ordering my seeds through them a few years ago and everything I plant just grows so well.
Other Gardening Information
I would love to hear what you are growing and why. Leave me a comment below sharing what new things you are trying this year.