People are often considered either to be good or bad at growing plants. We even have a term for it: green thumb! And in our culture, it’s assumed that you’ve either got it or you don’t. But that’s a shame. Being good with plants isn’t a set personality trait or an intuition that only some people possess. In reality, absolutely anyone can learn how to grow a garden. Most people just need a good place to start.
One effective starting place? Our list of top five easy-to-grow vegetables. These vegetables are low-maintenance and high-reward, and growing them is a great way of establishing good gardening habits and routines. From there, chances are pretty high that you’ll fall in love with growing your own organic garden, and will want to add even more to your plot!
In this article, we’ll cover some basic gardening rules of thumb (normal thumb!) and each of these five vegetables, as well as the best beginner gardening practices for each of them. When it comes to starting a garden, you’ll find that a little bit of knowledge yields fruitful results.
Want to Start a Garden? Let’s Begin with the Basics.
If you see it through, starting a garden for the first time will be an incredibly rewarding experience. But let’s set you up for success first. Here are eight basic rules to live by when beginning a new garden garden:Location, Location,
Location is everything when it comes to gardening, because it often determines which nutrients and environmental stressors your plants will come into contact with. Pick a spot that gets plenty of sun and has well-drained soil. Also, consider factors such as wind and shade from nearby buildings or trees.
2. Preparation is Key
Before getting started, it’s important to prepare the soil for the lush plants to come. Remove weeds, rocks, and any other debris from the area, and amend the soil with compost or other organic fertilizer to improve fertility and soil structure.
3. Choose Your Plants
We might be giving you a list of low-maintenance vegetables in this article, but ultimately, that choice is up to you. It’s best to choose plants that are well-suited to your climate, soil type, and amount of sunlight. Also consider factors such as height, spread, and flowering time when selecting plants.
4. Map It Out!
Before you get started, plan how your garden will function. Sketch out your garden design on paper, including the location of plants and paths. This will help you visualize the final result and avoid overcrowding.
5. Start Small
It's better to start with a small garden and expand over time, rather than trying to do too much too soon. It’s recommended that you start out with no more than five plants to get your routine started. From there, it’s easy (and exciting) to add more to your plot or growing containers.
6. Give Your Plants a Drink
Water is key to keeping plants alive—though first-time gardeners probably already know that. Water your plants regularly, especially during hot and dry spells, to ensure they have enough moisture to establish roots and grow.
7. Grab the Gloves
In order to keep any garden alive and thriving, it’s important to keep up with maintenance. Regularly remove weeds, deadhead flowers, and prune shrubs and trees as needed. This will keep your garden looking neat and tidy and prevent overcrowding.
8. Hang in There!
We love one-and-done projects, like repainting a door or fixing a pipe. But gardening is not that. It’s a long-term project, and it takes time for plants to establish and grow. Be patient, enjoy the process, and don't be discouraged by setbacks. You got this!
The Top 5 Easy-to-Grow Vegetables for Beginner Gardeners
Ready to get growing? Our recommendations tend to be naturally robust, require minimal maintenance and can thrive in a variety of environments.
Tomatoes are highly versatile plants that can grow in different climates, soil types, and locations, including containers, raised beds, or in-ground garden beds. They’re easy to propagate because they can be grown from seeds or by using seedlings, which is an affordable way to start a garden. Plus, they’re relatively low maintenance and simply require water, proper sunlight, some basic nutrients, and pest management to grow healthy.
The result: Healthy tomato plants produce a super abundant crop, and those tomatoes can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads to sauces, and can be eaten fresh, cooked, or canned. Chances are you’ll find that you grow the tastiest tomatoes of all!
Basic numbers for success: When starting to grow tomatoes, it’s best to pick a spot that gets 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day and has well-drained soil. When you plant your seeds, be sure to space them 24–36 inches apart. And be sure to give your tomato plants consistent water—about 1–2 inches per week.
Like tomatoes, peppers are highly adaptable and suitable for growing in a variety of regions and can thrive in small spaces. But these vegetables are also highly resilient and can withstand some serious environmental stress, such as fluctuating temperatures and periods of drought. Plus, they’re considered pest-resistant, which reduces the chances of you going into your garden to see your peppers are looking a little too much like swiss cheese.
The result: Peppers can be sliced raw, roasted, or grilled, and are super versatile in the kitchen. That’s because they can add flavor, color, and even heat to a wide range of recipes, from stews, soups, and stir-fries, to salads and sandwiches, to omelets, quiches, and frittatas. Yum!
Basic numbers for success: For peppers, choose a growing location that receives about 6 hours of sunlight per day. When you plant your seeds, be sure to space them 18–24 inches apart.
Cucumbers are considered adaptable because they can thrive in cool and hot climates and from a small container to a large garden bed. They can also be grown with seeds, which makes starting a cucumber garden super cost-effective. Plus, they’re widely accepted to be low-maintenance, are naturally resistant to pests, and grow really, really fast.
The result: Your cucumbers might be ready for harvesting in just a few weeks! Slice them and eat them straight, or put them in salads, sandwiches, and drinks. And don’t forget pickling. Every pickle you’ve ever eaten was once a cucumber grown in a garden.
Basic numbers for success: Your cucumbers will need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, so be sure to reserve a sunny spot for them. When planting cucumber seeds, keep them about 1 foot apart.
Lettuce is the kind of vegetable that has preferences but can work with almost anything—like a good friend you have dinner plans with. It prefers a cool climate but can grow in temperate and subtropical regions, and can be planted in a variety of environments, from a small container to a large garden bed. It prefers moist soil but will live in any soil type, as long as it’s well-draining, and it’s naturally pest-resistant. Plus, like cucumbers, it’s a fast-growing crop, that can be harvested in just a few weeks!
The result: This Vitamin A–rich vegetable is super versatile and great for salads and sandwiches. It’s also super hydrating, and a great way to add a crisp, crunchy, and refreshing element to your diet.
Basic numbers for success: Lettuce prefers at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. When planting seeds, push them about 1/4 of an inch deep and about 4 inches apart. That’ll give lots of room for their leaves and roots to fan out.
Beans have an incredibly simple growing process. You might even remember planting them in plastic cups in grade school! They’re known to germinate and grow quickly, and require very little maintenance. They don’t need much water, pruning, or staking. The best part? They’re super high-yield, which makes growing beans little work, high reward.
The result: Beans are versatile and nutritious vegetables that can be used in a variety of dishes. They’re super rich in fiber and iron and can be eaten raw, cooked, or canned. Use yours as a main dish, side dish, or ingredient in soups, stews, salads, and casseroles.
Basic numbers for success: Like the rest of the plants on our list, beans like to get at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, and can grow in a variety of small and large spaces. Plant seeds 1–2 inches deep, 4–6 inches apart. Soon you’ll have bean there, done that!
The Best Way to Set Your Garden Up for Success? It’s Automatic.
Planting a garden is a small part of the work. The rest is keeping it up!
Introducing the set-it-and-forget-it solution to any garden: the OtO device. This genius device ensures no hassle, automatic garden care treatment that administers irrigation, nutrients, and more. Plus, it uses smart technology to track real-time local and regional weather, windspeed, humidity, and temperature data and actively adjusts its schedule to deliver the perfect amount of treatment to your garden.
With the right selection of low-maintenance plants and smart technology to keep maintenance consistent, your garden won’t just survive. It’ll thrive.