If you are looking to start your first vegetable garden, you want fast-growing vegetables that yield an abundant harvest with minimum effort.
It is key to start with vegetables that will give you quick feedback and a harvest that you feel makes a difference.
Quick results will spur you on, and before you know it, you will grow all kinds of wonderful treasures in your garden.
Tip! You want to pick 3-5 vegetables and take action. This article will give you five options. Pick one, three, or five. It does not matter; the important thing is that you do get started.
How to choose the best vegetables to grow
So how do we choose suitable vegetables to grow in our home garden?
There is, of course, no one correct answer, but here in this article, we have used four characteristics that are ideal when selecting vegetables for that first home vegetable garden.
While it is rare for one vegetable to meet all four criteria, we will look to meet as many as possible for each selection below.
1. Fast-growing vegetables
Patience is a virtue, but we want a fast harvest when we grow vegetables for consumption. When we harvest fast, we put food on our table and free up our garden to plant more vegetables.
2. Easy to care for vegetables
Home gardening can be enjoyable, even therapeutic, and can help us wind down and destress. But there is something to be said for vegetables that ask to be watered and then grow.
We are looking for plants that grow without support, staking, and special fertilizers.
3. Vegetables yielding an abundant harvest
We are looking for vegetables that will put food on our table, not that one rare plant with specific needs.
4. Vegetables that grow back after harvest
Ideally, our vegetables will re-grow after harvest to give us more bang for our buck.
When food prices increase, every little bit can help. And growing your vegetables can be a great way to stretch your food budget and put healthy food on your table.
5 fast-growing, high-yielding vegetables
1. Leaf lettuce
Grow leaf lettuce in pots, bags of soil, containers, and pretty much anywhere else. This easy-to-grow vegetable yields an abundant harvest in less than four weeks.
Lettuce is one of the highest-yielding vegetables when considering the required growing area. Lettuce will re-grow, but often it makes more sense to harvest and replant.
Pros: Fast growing, easy to care for, re-grows, abundant harvest from even the smallest growing area Con: None
Spinach will grow happily in a cooler climate and even survive a light frost. Ideal for planting in early spring as well as late fall. Pick a semi-shady spot in summer or choose to grow, for example, lettuce instead.
Spinach can be ready for harvest in as little as four weeks and will grow back if cut without damaging the roots.
Pros: Fast growing, easy to care for, grows back Con: Yields a plentiful but not abundant harvest
3. Arugula or rocket
Arugula is one of my absolute favorite vegetables to grow year-round. This leafy green will, much like spinach, grow well in a cooler climate, and the mustard-peppery flavor ensures that a little goes a long way.
Plant early spring, late fall, and even in a semi-shady spot during summer. Harvest arugula in as little as four weeks, and the plant re-grows if roots are left un-damaged.
Pros: Fast growing, easy to care for, re-grows Con: Yields a plentiful and flavorful harvest - but not abundant
Radishes produce an abundant and flavorful harvest in as little as 30-45 days. Look for fast-growing varieties at well-stocked suppliers for an even faster harvest.
Radishes do not require a large growing area and are ideal for planting in several batches throughout the season.
Pros: Fast growing, easy to care for, abundant harvest from a small growing area Con: Does not re-grow
5. Garlic greens
Garlic bulbs need a long time to develop and mature. However, the garlic greens or shoots are ready to be harvested in 1-2 weeks and offer a milder but distinct flavor profile.
Plant cloves outdoors or grow garlic greens indoors in potting soil or water.
Garlic greens are like growing an avocado tree at home, a great indoor project where children are happy to get involved.
Pros: Fast growing, easy to care for, abundant harvest, re-grows Con: None
Bonus tip for the indoor gardener: Microgreens
You can sprout microgreens from many different plants, for example, arugula, chives, spinach, coriander/cilantro, and celery.
And you can harvest your microgreens in days as you eat the sprouts or seedlings, not the actual plant.
Tip! Pick your favorites and buy seeds in bulk. Buying small seed packets at retail can get expensive.
4 notable vegetables not included in the list
Some vegetables are almost synonymous with home gardening. Still, tomatoes, carrots, beans, and cucumbers were not on the list.
I do recommend you grow all four. But these four classic home gardening vegetables did not make it onto the list for the following reasons:
Tomatoes – There are fast-growing tomato varieties, for example, “Bajaja” cherry tomatoes. Still, if you start your tomato plants from seed, we are talking months rather than weeks. Most tomato varieties are also a bit more hands-on, needing staking or cages for support.
Carrots – delicious, high yielding, and easy to grow, but they need a minimum of 60 days to mature and develop.
Beans – Pole beans need staking and support, but bush beans grow compact and are relatively hands-off. Still, realistically beans need a minimum of 60 days to be ready for harvest.
Cucumber – fast growing and high yielding but does require support and staking. Also, from my experience, cucumbers need a minimum of 60-70 days to be ready for harvest.
There are so many vegetables to choose from, and if you need more inspiration, I recommend an article at GreenUpSide where 60 gardening bloggers share their favorite vegetables.