Vegetables that grow in under 60 days

Every year I get asked "which vegetables will be ready for harvest earliest?" by new gardeners. I get it. Gardening is a waiting game and it's nice to see results quickly, especially when you're just starting. Many vegetables take 3 months or more and it can be frustrating! I have compiled a list of vegetables and fruits that will be ready to harvest in under two months.

List of fast growing vegetables

These dates are calculated from the day they sprout from seed, or in the case of strawberries, break dormancy. If you have a garden center or nursery near by and chose to buy your plants already started you'll be slightly ahead of the timeline, usually by at least 2 weeks. Unfortunately most I've talked to aren't expecting plants till mid April though, so you'll be on almost the same timeline if you start seeds right now.

You're going to have to read tags or seed packages when choosing the different seeds to buy, as each one can have a different time frame. If you're new to home gardening varieties simply means the group of plants within a species that has one or more distinguishing characteristics. While looking for a type of tomato or carrot, one might be looking for a variety that has a certain texture, flavor or grow time. In this case, you'll be looking at grow time when selecting your seeds.

For instance Early Girl tomatoes only take about 50 days for the first fruits to be ready. Brandywine tomatoes take 90 days. As you can see that leaves a large margin for error if you just grab a pack of tomato seeds without reading it! Generally that is nothing more than a little annoying, you just wait a few more weeks for those plants to produce. 

However, I decided to write this post in response to the 7 emails I received this week specifically asking what foods they can start indoors now that will be ready the earliest. So let's focus on those.

Fastest growing vegetables and fruits


All of the time frames in this post are from seed to produce. If you happen to already have strawberries planted, or can pick up nursery plants now your time frames will be slightly sooner. Seed for all of these can be bought at the local garden center, feed store, big box store, plant nursery or even in the seasonal or produce section of grocery stores.

I have listed these in order of which will be ready to harvest soonest. I have linked the less common seeds to Amazon if you'd like to order them. The rest can easily be found in the garden center or even produce section at local stores...which would be much faster than ordering! If you are ordering online though, I recommend Seeds Now for their quality and price!

Microgreens

Microgreens top the list of fast producing vegetables because you're harvesting and eating them while they are still seedlings. As such, it only takes 2 weeks tops for microgreens to be table ready! There are over a dozen different microgreens to choose from and they can all be grown easily on your kitchen counter with only a grow light! Since you harvest each one when it is super tiny, you'll need a lot of seeds to grow microgreens. I like these microgreens seeds.

Microgreens ready to harvest at 14 days.

Radishes

Can be ready to pull in as little as 21 days! Many people do not prefer the peppery taste of the radish but there are many different varieties and almost all are ready in under a month. Look for the words sweet or mild if you don't usually like radishes. Here is a multipack of different colored radish which is great for beginners.

Lettuce

Most lettuce varieties take 45-55 days to develop fully but leaf lettuces can be harvested any time after about 3 weeks. Obviously the sooner you harvest, the smaller the leaves will be. Many of these varieties are cut and come again, meaning you can harvest some of the leaves and more will grow to take their place. This one is excellent for salads.

Arugula

This is one of my favorites and some arugula varieties can be ready quickly, in as little as 28 days. Though other varieties take up to 40 days. You can usually harvest each leaf two or three times before they start to get bitter. Although most people think Arugula is a lettuce, it's actually a part of the mustard family.

Kale

Most kale varieties are ready in about 55 days, although choose carefully because some won't be ready for 75 days. I know kale isn't exactly everyone's favorite food, but if you harvest the leaves when they are smaller they are sweeter and more tender. They taste more like salad and less like garnish! This one is ready in just 50 days!

Broccoli rabe

Broccoli rabe is a bushy plant from the turnip family that has smaller floret clusters and edible leaves. It can be harvested as early as 42 days. Slightly bitter flavor. Also referred to as broccoli raab. I like this variety.

Summer squash

The earliest ones are ready at around 40 days though they will be small. Allow to grow just a few days longer for larger squash. I like the early crookneck yellow squash variety.

Spinach

It takes about 45 days till spinach is ready to harvest. If you want to direct seed, do it while the nights are still cool. If it's already warm where you live, pre germinate your spinach seeds in the refrigerator for best results.

Vegetables that grow quickly. List of 16

Broccoli

Several varieties start producing small heads at around 45 days. If you want the larger heads you're used to seeing in the grocery store though, you'll be waiting for over 100 days. Don't worry, the smaller heads and early varieties taste about the same, maybe a little milder.

Carrots

There are carrots that fall into the category of 'baby carrots' that can be ready in as little as 50 days. Look for words like baby, half long or early in the name. This variety called Little Fingers takes 55 days.

Cucumber

Cucumbers should be ready at around 55-60 days with pickling cucumbers being ready slightly earlier. Pickling cucumbers are perfectly good for eating and in fact many stores have started carrying them as mini cucumbers.

Cherry tomatoes

Some are ready in as few as 55 days though others take closer to 80 days to produce fruit. The orange and yellow ones tend to take a bit longer though, plain red cherry tomatoes are ready earliest. Tiny Tim only takes 45 days to mature.

Beans

Bush beans are often ready at around 50-60 days. Pole beans will take about another month to start producing. Remember to check the days to maturity since some beans are ready much faster than others! I grow Blue Lake bush beans every year and I can start picking beans at about 45 days.

Turnips

The root of the turnip is ready in about 60 days but turnip greens can be harvested earlier. Turnips prefer cooler temps, so they can be direct sown early in the spring season. These purple & white turnips are ready in just 55 days.

Peas

Most types of peas start to produce around 60 days after sowing. Check your individual seed packet but shelling peas, sugar snap peas and snow peas all have varieties that can be harvested at 2 months.

Strawberries

I'm going to add Strawberries to this list with a few conditions. 
1) Buy a potted strawberry plant
2) Move it into a bigger pot or raised bed so it can spread out and not dry out as quickly.
If you do these things, then everbearing strawberries should start producing fruit within a few weeks. If you try to start from seeds or bare roots you'll be up to 6 months behind. If your interest is in speed, start with a plant this year!

Reading seed packets


I've outlined the areas you are looking for on the picture below. I used pea seeds that I happened to have on hand for this image.

Outlined in red: days till harvest. This is how many days it takes for this plant to be able to harvest the first vegetables. in this case some of these peas will be ready at 55 days while others take 70 days. 

Black and white & arrow: Seed pack date. Sometimes this says packed for the 2020 season, other times it says plant by or sell by and then a year. You can plant expired seeds. However you will get a better germination rate from fresher seeds. If you are buying them now they should have this year on them. If you are using seeds that are a few years old you'll want to plant a few extras just in case they don't all grow.

Outlined in white: days till germination. This is the time at which you should see your seedlings emerging. As you can see it's often listed on the chart, but some seed packets bury this information in the growing instructions.

Diagram reading seed packets

Outlined in purple: growing instructions. This usually includes how much sun a crop needs, watering instructions etc.

Outlined in burgundy: planting map. This little map shows you when it's generally safe to direct sow the seeds into the garden. If you don't want to mess with seed starting indoors, these are the dates you can plant in the ground.

Make sure to read everything on the seed packet when choosing seeds. They often describe what exactly makes each variety unique and any specific instructions for growing.

If this is your first time starting seeds, check out The 7 worst seed starting mistakes I've made. Skipping those will put you on the right path to see starting success!

Do remember that the first few fruits or vegetables that a plant produces will be smaller and less frequent. After you start harvesting from a plant, you will notice that it starts producing in larger quantities. Often it's only a few days time between a small vegetable and one that's oversized or over ripe. Check them often and harvest when ready.

I can totally understand if this is your first garden and your main focus is on getting food growing quickly. However, once you make the effort to start your garden I would suggest you also pick some longer growing crops that you truly love and plant them alongside these ones. That way not only will you have home grown produce soon, but later in the season as well. 

Since we're getting close to the end of freezing temps, you'll want to buy or order your seeds quickly. I've had great experiences with ordering through Seeds Now, plus they're really affordable!

Done correctly, a garden can take quite a bit of financial stress off the grocery budget. Homegrown food is fresher and less likely to have been doused with pesticides.  It's also a fun activity that gets you outside in the fresh air which is good for alleviating the boredom that soon to come for many of us!

Want to learn more about growing your own food? Click here for my other posts on growing your own food, herbs and flowers.

~L

Want gardening and healthy living information sent right to your email weekly? Click right here to join my list and get new posts sent directly to you the day they're published!

(This post contains affiliate links. If you chose to purchase something through the link, I will get a small payment from Amazon. It will not affect your purchase price. Click for full disclosure.)

2 comments:

  1. Great information. If I only could plan on the last frost date , it seems to be changing around here. Oh well I just put a blanket on top for the night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That last frost date is always tricky! I keep some clear drop cloth/tarp to throw over my garden when it threatens to frost too late in the season. Good luck with your garden this year!

      Lisa

      Delete