These easy crops for beginners are perfect if you are just starting to learn how to grow vegetables. These simple and fun crops to grow will get you started and fill your garden with produce in no time.
Growing vegetables is easy and enjoyable. It can give you a profound sense of well-being along with time outdoors and fresh, organic food to eat. If this all sounds great, but you’re not sure where to start, try these easy crops for beginners to get you started.
Learning how to grow vegetables is easy, but like everything else, it takes time. To give yourself the best chance of success and get off to a good start, it’s best to start small and concentrate on learning to grow just a few crops well. Once you have mastered a couple of crops, you will be well on your way to turning your allotment or garden into a thriving food jungle!
Here are some easy crops to grow for beginners that will help you learn how to grow vegetables. Just because these are listed as easy crops, however, it does not make them failsafe. The best gardeners can fail to grow the easiest vegetables some years. We have to learn from our experiences and move on. This list is designed to give you a place to start. If something doesn’t work, it’s probably not your fault. It’s more likely that the conditions aren’t right, you have a resident pest, or something out of your control went wrong. My best advice would be to sow a few more seeds than you need to mitigate a few disasters!
HOW TO GROW VEGETABLES; EASY CROPS FOR BEGINNERS
If you’re completely new to growing vegetables, you may want to start by reading my post about how to start a vegetable garden. This is a practical guide on how to set up and plan your space and what you can do before you get to growing seeds.
The most important thing to remember about growing vegetables is to get the conditions right. Usually, this means waiting for the right time to sow seeds and plant out your seedlings. Sowing seeds too soon will mean that you are trying to grow plants in conditions that are not right for them.
Most sowing times are given in relation to the last frost, e.g. “8 weeks before the last frost”. You will therefore need to have a clear idea of when your last frost is. I highly recommend looking it up and making a note of it! Be warned; these last frost dates are average, and it’s still a good idea to pay attention to the weather forecast before you plant out anything tender.
EASY CROPS FOR BEGINNERS
These crops are amongst the easiest to grow if you are a beginner. When choosing what to grow, I recommend you start with something easy that you will enjoy eating. We always put more care into looking after crops we know will be delicious!
For more advice on growing your own vegetables, check out my blog post on starting a vegetable garden.
Courgettes are infamous in the garden world for being incredibly productive. Most families will be well-catered for with just one plant, and they will require very little in the way of care. Courgettes are delicious and versatile too. They can add bulk to almost any dish and you can grill, roast, stew, fry, spiralize and even turn them into cake.
Courgettes are tender plants, so they will not tolerate cold. They are also fast-growing. Sow them around four weeks before your last frost date, and keep them somewhere warm until the risk of frost has passed. Give them a large growing space as they can make very large plants. This will help them be more productive too. Follow this simple guide for more information on how to grow courgettes.
Tomatoes are an easy crop to grow but a difficult crop to master. The best thing about tomatoes is that they usually reward even the laziest and most neglectful gardeners with some fruit. And nothing compares to a home-grown sun-sweetened tomato.
Sow tomatoes around six weeks before the last frost date. Raise them in a greenhouse or sunny windowsill until the risk of frost has passed. There are lots of varieties of tomatoes to suit any space. Microtomatoes are tiny and can grow on a windowsill. Cordon tomatoes, on the other hand, can easily get to twelve feet in a growing season if conditions are good. So choose a variety to suit the conditions that you have, and don’t forget to provide some support if they need it.
It’s important not to let tomatoes dry out. The easiest way to do this is to grow them directly into the ground or into a very large container holding a lot of water. Look at this guide on how to grow tomatoes for more information.
Another of the easy crops for beginners to grow is potatoes. They are really fun to grow and can give great yields. There is a lot of advice on growing potatoes, but it needn’t be difficult or complicated.
I grow potatoes in a no dig style. To do this, I use a bulb planter and plant a seed potato directly into the ground. I don’t do anything else except perhaps water the plants if it’s dry. There is no need to earth them up as they will produce potatoes out to the side. When they’re ready to harvest, I dig up armfuls of beautiful spuds and store them in a cool, dry place with the dirt still on them.
You will need to purchase seed potatoes (unless you have some already, of course), and when you sow them and harvest them will depend on the variety that you choose. As a general rule:
First earlies: Sow in March and harvest in June or July.
Second earlies: Sow in early April and harvest in July or August.
Maincrop: Sow in late April and harvest in August, September or October
Make sure to check the packet, so you know when to sow and harvest your potatoes. Be mindful that first and second earlies are smaller potatoes!
There are many different types of beans you can grow in your garden, from runner beans to french beans, climbing beans to dwarf beans, and they are all really easy. I don’t include broad beans in this as they are slightly different to grow but are quite straightforward.
Sow climbing, dwarf, french and runner beans just before the last frost or any time until mid-June. They germinate and grow very fast, so don’t sow them too early, or you will be stuck looking after large tender plants indoors. This can make the plants weak and reduce their productivity.
Once the danger of frost has passed, you can plant them out. With the exception of dwarf beans, they will need some support. Building bean supports is a fun and easy project. They can grow up an A-frame, teepee or arch – the choice is yours! As they are large plants, they are susceptible to wind damage, so make sure to plant them in a sheltered location or that their support is very sturdy.
Lettuce is an amazing crop that you can grow all year round. It can be grown in several different ways throughout the year. You can sprinkle seeds into a pot on your windowsill and eat the small leaves as they grow. Alternatively, you can grow them as stand-alone plants, either loose-leaf all year round or head-forming lettuce in the summer.
I highly recommend growing ‘salad bowl’ lettuce such as Lollo Rosso if you are a beginner. Give each plant some space (at least 30cm on either side), and they will produce nice big plants that continue to crop for several months if you harvest them correctly. Harvest them by removing just the lower leaves – as many as you need. the lettuce will continue to produce fresh leaves from the top, and you will have lettuce leaves until the plant goes to seed. They really are one of the easiest crops for beginners to grow.
Beetroots are very easy to grow and delicious to eat fresh from the garden. For best results with beetroot, I use a technique called multi-sowing. All this involves is taking 3-4 seeds and sowing them together into a module. I make a single hole in the middle of a module or pot (make sure they aren’t smaller than about 2cm per module) and put all the seeds in at once. Sow beetroot any time from March to July. Using the multi-sowing technique, I usually only need to sow in March, which will keep me in beetroot for most of the year!
The plants seem to prefer to develop as a clump, and you will find that one beetroot develops quickly, and the others stay small. Once the first beetroot has reached a good size, it can be harvested, and the next one will develop. Using this method, you can have 3 or 4 harvests from a single clump, and the beetroot tends to be stronger and less prone to pest damage.
Try putting a drizzle of red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of salt over your beetroot before roasting them, as this really enhances the flavour!
Peas are fun to grow, and you can start them a little earlier in the season than most things if you’re itching to get sowing! Sow peas in February or March for best results.
Peas don’t like disturbance to their roots. For this reason, many recommend growing peas in a length of guttering, and when they are ready to plant outside, simply sliding them out of the guttering. I have tried this method with little success, it’s a difficult thing to coordinate from start to finish. My favourite way to sow peas is multi-sowing. Like beetroot, take a modular tray and sow 3-4 peas per module. As peas are larger plants, you will need larger module trays or small pots.
When the peas are 4-5 inches tall, plant them out in the garden and ensure they have something to climb up. Most peas only get to about 1 meter tall, but there are plenty of exceptions, so check how tall your peas are likely to get before you create your supports.
Whilst peas are easy crops for beginners, they may need some protection from birds. If you know you have lots of pigeons and sparrows, you may want to grow them under a net. My advice would be to see how it goes first; you may find it’s not too much of a problem. Please be mindful that if you are putting up nets, they need to be secure so birds cannot get trapped inside.
Radishes are one of the fastest-growing crops in the garden, and are one of the best easy crops for beginners and children. I regularly find self-seeded, fully-grown radishes in places I didn’t even know existed! You can sow radishes directly into a drill in a garden bed, scatter the seeds into a large container, or multi-sow them, like peas and beetroot. They can be sown in most months of the year, but when they are sown will affect how quickly they grow.
Radishes can reach maturity in as little as four weeks. The time it takes them to develop will depend on light levels, temperatures and the variety you grow. You will see the swollen root just above the surface of the soil. When it is between marble and golfball size, it’s ready to harvest. Radish is a good crop for using little spaces in your garden that might otherwise be bare. This will help to keep your garden productive and protect and enhance your soil.
Radishes also bolt (go to seed) quickly in warm, dry spells. This is great because radish flowers provide really good forage for beneficial insects such as hoverflies. The seed pods are also edible and are delicious when pickled or on a salad, with a tangy, peppery taste.
Kale is an easy-to-grow plant that will crop for most of the year, providing you with rich, nutrient-dense food. Often called a superfood, kale is also a super crop. It requires minimal effort to grow and can harvest you on demand when you want to eat it.
I sow a few kale seeds into a seed tray, and when they are about an inch tall, I separate them out. I plant each one into its own little module. When they’re 4-5 inches tall, I choose the best ones and plant them out in the garden. They are very tasty to slugs, so I always hold a few back in my greenhouse, just in case I lose my crop.
You may want to grow them a little larger before planting them out if your garden is particularly full of slugs. You can also choose a red variety such as “redbor”, which is less attractive to slugs. My favourite kale variety is Tuscan kale or “cavolo nero” for its buttery soft leaves and rich flavour.
Spring onions are another crop that can be sown directly into drills, scattered into a container, or multi-sown, just like radishes. They are also known as bunching onions because they grow together in little bunches. They are the perfect easy crop for beginners as they are delicious, fast-growing and easy to care for.
Sow spring onions anytime from March to September and harvest them when you want them. They’re full of flavour and great for adding to a salad. I find that spring onions don’t last long in the fridge, so it’s nice to have a supply of them in the garden for when I want to cook. Harvest them when they are just a finger’s width, or let them develop little bulbs. You can pickle the bulbs and eat them as delicious silverskin onions.
EASY CROPS FOR BEGINNERS
Despite these being listed as easy crops to grow, there are plenty of things that can go wrong in a garden. Like I said before, even the best gardeners can fail to grow some of these crops some years, particularly if they are starting a new garden. Take it as a learning experience and not as a sign that you shouldn’t be a gardener!
One of the most important things to understand about growing vegetables is that they need to grow on healthy soil. If your soil lacks organic matter, the vegetables will struggle. Take a look at no-dig gardening as an easy way to start your garden and establish healthy soil.