The 14 Easiest Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs Any New Gardener Can Grow

These no-fail edible garden plants are so easy, they practically grow themselves.

Growing an edible garden can be very rewarding, but if you're new to gardening it can be a bit overwhelming deciding on what plants to choose and how to grow them. Plus, some plants are more finicky than others, requiring more attention and special care. If you're a first-time gardener, consider starting with no-fuss vegetables, fruits, and herbs that will do well as long as they get sufficient sunlight, healthy soil, and just enough water so they can thrive. Once you get a feel for what you're doing, you can branch out into growing other kinds of vegetables and fruits that take a little more know-how.

Read on to get our plant recommendations for new gardeners. All of these easy-to-grow plants can be grown in pots, in a garden box, or directly in the ground, depending on your outdoor space and preference. Ideally, you want to plant where you get the most sunlight, which is the area that faces south. If that's not possible, an alternative is to plant in a west-facing location. Some veggies, such as lettuces, can tolerate shade while other sun-loving plants, such as tomatoes, need a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day to thrive. Always check the plant tag or seed packet to see the ideal conditions for individual plants.

Supplies to get you started:

  • Potting soil (for container gardens)
  • Compost (for garden beds)
  • Fertilizer (check package to get the appropriate fertilizer for your plant)
  • Pots with small drainage holes (for container gardens)
  • Seeds or starter plants
  • Basic gardening tools (such as hand trowel, hand-cultivator, pruners, gardening gloves, kneeling pad, watering can, plant tags, and plant supports). If you're primarily container-gardening, you can find scaled-down tools that allow you to work in smaller areas. Always buy the best quality you can afford; garden gloves might wear out relatively quickly but a well-made gardening tool can withstand heavy duty use for many years.
  • Consider buying a soil thermometer; planting in soil that's too cold can stunt growth. If you're planting in the ground, you can purchase a home soil test or send your soil away to get tested so you'll know what nutrients and amendments to add.

1. Arugula

fresh arugula leaves

Arugula has dark green leaves that can be rounded or spiky. This leafy green is known for its spicy and peppery flavor; you can add it raw to salads, steam or sauté it, or add to soups.

How to Grow: Sow seeds in pots or trays with enough space to sprout and grow without the need to transplant. If you want to munch on baby leaves, you'll be ready to harvest them in less than a month. Otherwise, expect around two months from seed to fully mature leaves. Leaves will often regrow after the first harvest or two but to help this process, cut leaves at the bottom of the stem. Arugula can easily self-sow if you let some flower heads go to seed.

When to Plant: Spring or Fall. In most regions, you can grow year-round though. When exposed to frost, the cold will make the leaves sweeter.

Get recipes that use arugula.

2. Kale

varieties of kale

Kale is a type of cabbage that doesn't form a head. There are many varieties and colors to choose from, such as lacinato kale (aka dinosaur kale) known for its dark, bumpy green leaves; or curly kale, which can be grown in green or purple varieties.

How to Grow: If sowing seeds, they usually emerge within a week or so. You can place seeds in a flat tray or container spacing them out, according to packet instructions. Once they sprout and need more space, you can transplant them to a bigger receptacle. Kale needs well-drained soil that is amended with lots of organic matter. Leaves are ready for harvesting within two months, or snip baby leaves sooner for a milder flavor.

When to Plant: In the fall before the first frost or in the spring after the last frost.

Get recipes for kale.

3. Lettuce

varieties of lettuces grown in a garden bed

Lettuce is an easy veggie to grow from seed or starter plants and typically can be grown year-round, depending on your USDA hardiness zone. You'll find a wide variety of lettuces falling into four main categories: romaine, loose-leaf, crisphead, and butterhead:

  • Romaine or cos: grows in an upright, elongated shape
  • Loose-leaf: does not form a tight head. You can cut leaves as needed and leave the plant in the ground to grow new leaves. Very easy and popular to grow.
  • Crisphead: grows in a round shape with tightly packed leaves. Iceberg lettuce is an example of crisphead lettuce.
  • Butterhead: grows in a round shape but with loosely packed leaves. Easy to grow.

How to Grow: Plant several seeds in a flat tray or small container. Once they begin to sprout and take up space, you'll want to transplant them to a larger pot. Lettuce thrives in cooler climates and likes loose, well-drained soil, with amendment, such as compost. They do well both with full sun or partial shade.

When to Plant: Typically, lettuce is planted in spring, after the last frost. You can also plant in the fall. But depending on your geographical zone, you may be able to plant and grow lettuce throughout the year.

Get lettuce recipes.

4. Radishes

fresh radishes with green tops

Radishes are quick-to-sprout root vegetables. You may be used to the classic small and peppery variety that is bright pink on the outside and white on the inside, but when you start growing your own, you'll see there are a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors — each with its own unique flavor.

How to Grow: If you plant seeds, sprouts will emerge within a week. If you don't want to worry about transplanting, sow in a tall container so the radish has space to grow and form. From seed to harvest is around one month.

When to Plant: Radishes can grow year-round, dependent on the variety. Typically, seeds are sown in early or late spring or in early fall. Some can be planted in the winter, too.

Get radish recipes.

5. Sugar snap peas

sugar snap peas growing on a vine

Sugar snap peas are a delight in the garden with their delicate flowers that attract pollinators, such as bees, to the garden. And they're fun to eat! You can eat the whole pod uncooked right off the vine, a or pop open the pod and nibble on the peas.

How to Grow: Peas do best in milder climates but need plenty of sunlight. If planting seeds, peas usually take around two months before they are ready to harvest and eat. Peas are climbers so you'll need to have a structure such as a pole or trellis for the vines to spread out and allow the plant to have support. There are also varieties that don't climb or expand but instead take the form of a bush, which may be preferred if you don't have much space or don't want to bother with a structure.

When to Plant: In spring or late fall.

Get recipes for sugar snap peas.

6. Strawberries

close up of strawberry plant with ripening strawberries

Strawberries are beautiful gems that are a delectable fruit to grow. Not only do they add color, it's fun to watch the fruit emerge from the white flower. There are different varieties so you may want to plant both June-bearing, which produces strawberries for about a month and everbearing that produce fruit throughout the season to ensure you have a bounty to enjoy all the spring and summer. Keep your eyes open for alpine strawberry starts — these sugar-sweet varieties are much too delicate for commercial harvesting, so the only way you'll ever taste them is if you grow them yourself.

How to Grow: Although there are several ways to grow strawberries, one of the easiest methods is in pots. You're best off buying seedlings (starts) to have the most success.

Place your starts in a container, either one per pot or if you have a spacious container, you can plant a few. However, strawberries don't do well when they're crowded so as a rule of thumb — three plants or fewer per square foot of soil. Strawberries do best in loamy, well-drained soil and need plenty of sunlight. In fact, depending on where your pot is placed, you may need to turn the pot every few days to ensure the entire strawberry plant receives sunlight. Water occasionally, but it's okay if the soil becomes a bit dry between waterings. Too much watering can actually wash out the flavor.

When to Plant: Depending on your region and hardiness zones as well as the variety, strawberries are often planted in the spring. Sometimes they can be planted in the fall.

Get strawberry recipes.

7. Cherry tomatoes

varieties of cherry tomatoes on the vine

For any tomato lover, tomatoes are the essence of summer. Cherry tomatoes are especially fun and easy to grow, and come in different shapes and sizes from small, round globes to oval shaped. Plus, there are many colors, too: Choose from bright red to burgundy or orange and yellow. These bite-sized snacks will be hard to resist not popping in your mouth when they're warm from the sun and ripe on the vine.

How to Grow: You can choose to sow from seeds or plant starts. Tomatoes do best when planted in wide and deep pots so the roots have room to expand and establish themselves. Tomatoes thrive in the sun, so choose a spot in your garden where there is ample sunlight. Make sure to plant your tomatoes in well-drained soil and give each plant plenty of space because they could grow big and tall and take up a lot of room. Check the plant tag to see if the tomato is determinate or indeterminate. Both types need support from a cage, stake, or trellis, but indeterminate tomatoes can grow quite tall and need extra support. If you're short on space, you can grow tomatoes in a hanging basket.

When to Plant: Early to late spring. You can sow seeds indoors or in a greenhouse, if needed. Cherry tomatoes are especially good choices for areas with short growing seasons because they take less time to fully ripen.

Get tomato recipes.

8. Scallions

fresh scallions aka green onions

Scallions, often called green onions, are simple to grow and are a delicious addition to many dishes with their mild flavor. You can use both the white tops and greens.

How to Grow: If you grow from seed, sprouts take around two weeks to emerge. You can grow in a container but make sure it's deep so the scallions can grow properly. Scallions prefer nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. They like moist soil but over watering can encourage disease. Although they can handle some shade, they thrive in the sun and like a minimum of six hours of sunlight. Scallions are ready to harvest within a couple months, give or take.

When to Plant: You can sow seeds about a month to a month and a half before the average last frost date in spring for your region or when soil temperatures are around 45 degrees F. Or if you prefer, you can start scallions inside about 2–2½ months before the average last frost.

9. Chives

chives growing in a garden bed

Chives are part of the onion and garlic family (aliums) and are a must for any culinary garden. The best part is they make a gardener's life easy — they self-seed freely and grow with only basic care.

How to Grow: Chives need loamy, well-drained soil and are drought-tolerant. Water sparingly so the soil is kept damp but never soggy as this can lead to root rot. Chives love the sun so make sure to plant them in an area that receives ample sunlight. Chives are usually ready to snip and enjoy within 60-80 days. You can snip chives right down to the ground and they will grow back quickly. If some of your chives develop flower heads, you can harvest them to use as garnishes for salads and egg dishes. You can even make chive flower vinegar.

When to Plant: If sowing from seeds, you can start them about 4–6 weeks before the average last frost date for your region based on the USDA hardiness zones. Or check the soil temperature and sow when it is 45 degrees F or higher. Otherwise, consider starting chives inside about two months before the average last frost.

10. Parsley

close up of a sprig of italian parsley

Parsley is a herb that is used around the world in many cuisines and is highly versatile. There are different types of parsley — flat-leaf and curly leaf — and offer different flavor profiles. Growing your own parsley means you'll never throw out a half-used bunch from the grocrey store.

How to Grow: Parsley grows well from seed, though it takes a while to sprout, usually between two and four weeks. Parsley starts are widely available and are easy to grow. Parsley likes well-drained soil and prefers to be watered frequently so the soil is damp, though never soggy. You can start enjoying the leaves around two to three months after planting.

When to Plant: Typically planted in spring when soil temperatures are around 50 degrees F or higher or sow seeds about a month to a month in half before the average last frost date. Or if you prefer, you can sow seeds indoors two to two and half months before the typical last frost date.

Get recipes for parsley.

11. Oregano

Gardner harvesting oregano in a herb garden
Westend61/Getty Images

Oregano is another easy-to-grow herb that adds distinctive flavor to an array of dishes, such as sauces, pizza, soups, salads and more. Oregano is a low-maintenance plant perennial that needs minimal care to thrive.

How to Grow: Plant seeds in a container or flat-tray. They typically sprout within five to ten days, or you can opt for seedlings to get a head start. Oregano thrives in most climates and can handle some shade, although it does best when placed in an area that gets lots of sunlight. Plant oregano in well-drained, loose soil and water sparingly — keep soil moist but never soggy. Oregano does like to expand and take up space so either plant in a pot as a way to contain the herb or place it in an area of the garden where it can't dominate. Even if you cut it down to the ground in the dormant season, oregano will come right back in the spring.

When to Plant: Early to late spring. Plant a few weeks after the average last frost date for your zone.

Get recipes for oregano.

12. Mint

A bunch of freshly picked mint
Jenny Dettrick/Getty Images

There are many varieties of mint so consider choosing different kinds, such as peppermint, spearmint, or chocolate mint. Once mint starts growing, it usually thrives with little maintenance; as a perennial plant, it will die back during the winter but come back in springtime.

How to Grow: You can sow seeds or buy starter plants. Mint needs well-drained soil and does best when placed in an area with partial shade. Mint does well in most climates and is a vigorous grower. Plant mint in pots to contain growth or plant in an area where it's okay for mint to expand because this plant is known for taking over garden areas.

When to Plant: A couple weeks after the last frost has passed or you can start indoors a month or two before the average last frost date.

Get recipes for mint.

13. Rosemary

Close up of rosemary leaves

Rosemary is a hardy perennial shrub that will grow well as long as its basic needs are met. This savory herb with a pine-like flavor is often used in roasts, as well as baked goods, such as breads, crackers and cookies.

How to Grow: Sow seeds and expect to wait two to four weeks before sprouts emerge or buy seedlings from the nursery. If you grow directly in the ground, expect that it will grow into a sizable bush and take up as much room as space permits. Rosemary loves the sun and does best with warm to hot temperatures, although it will do well in a variety of climates.

When to Plant: after the last frost when temperatures are around 60 degrees F. Otherwise, you can start indoors.

Get recipes for rosemary.

14. Thyme

Thyme is a low-maintenance perennial herb that will grow year after year, and comes in many varieties. This savory herb is delicious sprinkled in salads, sauces, stews and even in baked goods, such as crackers and breads.

How to Grow: You're best off buying seedlings because thyme can be tricky to grow from seed. Thyme needs a lot of sun and can grow in most climate zones. Plant in rich, loamy soil. Thyme is a drought-tolerant plant that likes infrequent watering. It's okay if the soil becomes a bit dry before the next watering, just make sure to not over-water. This hardy plant can grow into a shrub if given ample space.

When to Plant: Early/late spring after the last frost. Typically, it's recommended to start indoors until the weather is warmer.

Get recipes for thyme.

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