What are the easiest food crops to grow?

I have heard from a lot of new gardeners this year who are disappointed in the way things are going. Unfortunately gardening hasn't been as easy as some have anticipated. In my little trouble shooting sessions I'm finding out that many new gardeners started out with plants that are prone to pests, disease or other problems. I get it, you want to grow what you like to eat. I do the same thing.

Vegetables that grew easily

Unfortunately, some plants are super prone to bugs and disease. It's hard enough to take care of a garden, but add powdery mildew or vine borers on top of that and it can get to be too much!

Today I wanted to talk about some of the easiest to grow crops to get new gardeners started out on the right foot! Herbs and edible flowers tend to be the easiest to grow, though obviously vegetables will give you the most food per plant. I'll include them all on this list.

Easy to grow food plants


Here are the top easy to grow plants which will ensure success even if this is your very first time working with soil! I'll include care instructions, though mostly they'll just need water and occasionally, fertilizer.

Mint

This is one of the easiest herbs to grow. Mint plants will grow rapidly and even spread to neighboring patches of your garden if you are no careful enough. The best idea is to grow mint in a container. The good thing is that, this plant needs hardly any maintenance and care. 

You can take a fresh sprig of mint and can grow it anywhere either in direct sunlight or inside a cool and shady place. You only need to make sure to water the mint plant thoroughly everyday till you see the seedling leaves appear.

Mint growing in pot

Many other herbs are super easy to grow like dill, chives, basil, thyme and chamomile.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are super to grow and almost every new gardener starts with them! You can start tomatoes from seeds easily, all the really need is soil and water. Once the seedling leaves appear, place them in direct sunlight for three hours every day till the leaves are grown. Then transplant the seedling into a pot. 

Of course you can also buy a started plant from the garden center. Tomatoes can be grown in containers or in the garden. Place in direct sun, fertilize every 2 weeks and make sure to water regularly. Pick off any bugs you see, especially big green caterpillar looking worms. If you have chickens, they love to eat these worms!

Cucumbers

There are many different varieties of cucumbers that you can grow but the pickling cucumbers seem to be the easiest. They are ready much earlier than regular cucumbers and are just as tasty...though admittedly they are smaller. 

Cucumbers can grow in containers or in the garden. I give mine a fence to grow on, but some plants still like to crawl across the ground. Place in full sun, fertilize lightly every 2 weeks and water regularly.

There are some slight differences when growing vegetables in containers versus the garden like your watering schedule and amount.

Sweet peas

These cute looking green peas are often used in germination experiments in schools because they grow so easily. You could even place peas on a moist wad of cotton on a bowl. Then keep the bowl in a shaded area and watch the seeds sprout in a few days’ time. 

You can transplant the seedling once you see the secondary leaves appear on the shoot. Give seedlings something to grow on and water regularly. I don't fertilize beans or peas as they don't need it.

You'll have to start these from seed and they produce best in cooler temps....but I start them twice a year. Once late in winter and again in August for a fall crop. 

Beans

Beans are another great option for the beginning gardener. Simply place a couple of beans inside a seedling pot. Then water them regularly and keep the pot in a shaded area. Once the shoots emerge, place the seedling in direct sunlight for a few hours daily till they toughen up to face constant sunlight. 

This is called hardening off.

Beans and peas aren't something you'll find regularly in the garden center, though they are so simple to start and grow that anyone can do it. Just remember to start with seeds that are less than 3 years old for best germination rate.

Some beans grow in a bush form and others vine. I find the bush beans easiest since they do not need a trellis. Once they start producing beans, they tend to produce very quickly, so you'll be able to harvest often.

Sunflowers

These beautiful flowers can be grown from the seed itself. These flowers will be tall, bright colored and always facing the sun! You need to have ample space to grow sunflowers as the flowers grow as high as a corn crop, though they have a small footprint if you place them between other crops. 

This is another plant so easy to grow from seed that kids often grow them in classroom experiments. You can allow the flowers to dry then harvest the seeds for eating.

Sunflowers growing for seeds

Nasturtiums

These are vine shaped flowering plants which have leaves that look like lily pads. The great thing about this plant is that is comes in vibrant colors like vanilla, yellow, crimson and orange. These flowers are edible and once you have planted these, they will regenerate with every season. 

Nasturtiums prefer full sun and of course, water regularly. I don't fertilize flowers unless they seem to not be growing at all, which is rare. These are one of my favorite flowers to grow in my vegetable garden.

Cosmos

This plant is typically found in the old fashioned garden patches. You will find these plants in two varieties – sonata mix and seashells. Growing the plant from the seed is always better than just placing a seedling into the pot as the plant emerges stronger with better yield. Though you can easily find these in garden centers.

As with most other flowers, cosmos prefer full sun and water regularly. The Cosmo Sulpherureus flowers are edible and the rest are not. These are the yellow and orange ones, not the pink, purple, red or white flowers! 

The Cosmos plant is fantastic at regenerating itself time and again and the bright colors attract pollinators to your garden which is exactly what you need!

Arugula

This lettuce variety is super easy to grow though not everyone appreciates its unique flavor. Most leaf lettuce are easy to grow though, so try a variety you like. Plant seeds in garden soil and cover lightly with soil and water. Water daily till seedlings sprout and check them daily after, watering whenever the soil appears to be getting dry. 

To harvest cut lettuce about an inch from the soil then water. It should start growing again shortly.

Ginger

Did you know that you could cultivate ginger by just cutting off a portion of the ‘eye’? The surface of the ginger root has several small projections on it. In order to successfully grow the plant you need to cut off this portion and place it under the soil. 

Slowly, it will grow its roots into the soil and then the shoots and leaves will appear. This is a fun indoor project for winter. You will need a very large pot though, as ginger needs lots of space!


Zucchini, watermelon and pumpkin deserve a mention because they are easy to grow though they are more prone to pest problems than everything else mentioned here. Carrots are pretty easy too, if the soil is tilled properly. 

By starting with some of these easy to grow vegetables and other edible plants, you'll get some garden experience under your belt before you have to deal with pests and diseases...which are no fun at all! Happy gardening!

~L

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