Skip to main content

Forget flowers: These are the 8 vegetables to grow in any garden

Whether you want to be healthier or just want to make your garden more useful to you beyond having pretty flowers, growing vegetables at home can be easy and rewarding. Of course, some vegetables require the space and labor of a farm and a master gardener. These eight plants, though, are great to grow in your backyard or a community garden container box — they don’t require special expertise or a lot of work.

girl holding lettuce bunch
Johnny McClung/Unsplash

Lettuce

Lettuce seeds of all varieties are available at most nurseries and can make at-home salads easy and convenient to put together. Lettuce prefers cooler weather, so planting it in either the spring or fall is the best option. Gardening Know How says, a lettuce plant can actually withstand temperatures as low as 45° F — maybe that’s where the term Iceberg lettuce comes from! If you’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse, these hearty, leafy greens can be grown year-round.

Recommended Videos

What is great about lettuce is that you don’t have to start a seed and then plant it; they can just be sown directly into your garden bed in six-inch bands. A good option is to plant them every two to three weeks so you’re not overrun with lettuce and forced to eat it nonstop. Freezing is not an option despite its fondness for colder temperatures.

When leaves are two to four inches long, they are ready to pick, wash, and eat. Make sure to pick along the outside of the plant so it can keep growing new leaves.

Spinach

This leafy green powerhouse of a vegetable has seeds that can also be directly sown into soil with a bit of compost (if it’s available). Like lettuce, you can plant these in full sun or light shade. What’s great about this vegetable is that it can be planted pretty much year-round. However, you should try to do it when it’s still cold outside. Most varieties of spinach can tolerate temperatures as low as 15° F, but if you’re planting in fall, it should be done about two months before the first frost is set to appear. Late winter, early spring is the ideal time, suggests Bonnie Plants.

The savoy, semi-savoy, and flat-leaf varieties are the best to plant, and one seed packet can make up to five months of vegetables. Often, gardeners will need to thin out planted spinach seedlings to allow plants space to grow. When you sow or thin out your seeds, make sure there are about six to 12 inches between them.

Squash and zucchini

Even just one of these plants will yield a lot of vegetables, almost more than you can eat. Squash and zucchini seeds, regardless of whether they are summer, pattypan, or heirloom costata romanesco, can be started indoors and moved outside during growing season. However, it’s easier and faster to simply purchase seedlings of these vegetables to plant outdoors in some soil. Also, use a healthy amount of fertilizer on the zucchini — they get very hungry!

Squash appreciates direct sunlight and space to spread its vines along the group or up a garden trellis. Watering frequently and fertilizing the plant once a month is recommended, as is harvesting pretty often to make room for new vegetable growth. These can be picked when they reach two to three inches in diameter for round varieties or four to six inches long for the others.

Cucumbers

If you enjoy a cool cucumber in the heat or in its pickled form, then you’re in luck, because these are quite easy to grow in a garden or container box. Unlike leafy greens, cucumbers like warmer weather and should be planted after the last vestiges of cold weather have left your area. These seeds can be planted directly in some well-fertilized soil using compost — are you sensing a pattern here?! Or, you can purchase seedlings to plant as well.

What’s great about cucumbers is that you can grow the shorter, smaller varieties even when space is an issue. Like with squash, planting them with a trellis for its vines to grow in full sunlight is best. Cucumbers are ready to pick as soon as they grow to their full size, which depends on the variety.

person holding various tomatoes
Mint Images/Adobe Stock

Tomatoes

There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh, homegrown tomatoes, and they’re easy to grow in a garden or even in a pot on a patio. The larger varieties can take about 12 weeks to produce fruit that is ready to harvest, but cherry tomatoes will be ready in about two months, and a plant can keep producing for up to six years!

A seedling can be planted once spring frost has passed. The fastest-growing varietals are Sun Gold, Jasper, and Sunrise Bumble Bee, but there are even types to specifically grow in confined spaces like balconies. Tomato plants should be tied to a stake as it matures to allow for vine growth. If you are planting them in a full garden, make sure to leave plenty of space between these and peppers since bees can cross-pollinate the two and ruin some of the flavor of your tomatoes.

Peas

A great early spring (about a month before the last frost) or late Summer vegetable to grow on your own are peas, particularly snap peas. These are a wonderfully low-maintenance vegetable that has minimal problems with diseases or pests, save for extreme heat.

Some varieties, like the super sugar snap peas, will need a trellis to grow up, but there are also Alderman heirloom garden peas that don’t take up as much as space. It’s best to sow these seeds directly into some well-fertilized soil rather than starting them indoors and moving them.

Green beans

While these warm weather-loving plants can attract bugs that like to eat its leaves, green beans are relatively simple to grow. Depending on the variety, they can either grow on a bush or get helped along by planting a trellis. SFGate says, “Green beans grow as either bushes or vines, depending on variety, but either type requires temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive.”

Seeds can go directly into soil, preferably with compost on top. Bush beans can produce pods ready to pick, wash, and eat as soon as two months after planting. You can harvest these fresh or after the pods have dried and the peas have hardened for easy storage.

radish bunch on wood panels
Damien Creatz/Unsplash

Radishes

As a root vegetable, radishes are a quick, easy vegetable to grow in a garden or even a bucket or container. Their spicy taste can add some pep to your salads and other cooked dishes in as little as three weeks from planting.

Just watch out, because one seed packet can yield hundreds of radishes! You’ll definitely have to explore recipes and maybe share with others. When figuring out if they are ready to harvest, pull back the roots to see if the bulb has grown, and do a taste test.

While a flower garden is a wonderful addition to any yard, container garden, or even windowsill, growing  your own vegetables can be exciting, easy, and economical. These vegetables are good for any gardener to grow, even novices, as long as you keep in mind planting, fertilizing, and watering schedules.

Meanwhile, if you want to learn more, read on further to know what to do to repurpose old planters.

Editors' Recommendations

Deb Goncalves
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Deb's work has appeared on Moms, Babygaga, and WorldAtlas. When she's not working (that's hard to say about a Capricorn), she…
Rustic but modern: Why water trough gardening may be right for you
Water trough gardening will have you planting in style — here are the pros and cons
Water trough with plants

Water trough gardening has been a rising trend in the green thumb community. There is no one-size-fits-all method to achieving a beautiful garden: Some gardeners create gorgeous vertical gardens, some prefer pyramid gardens, while others would rather start a hydroponic garden. But water trough gardening is unique because it typically uses steel or other metal and is often used to provide fresh, clean water to livestock on farms or ranches.

If you are looking to achieve a rustic yet modern look in your garden, a water trough planter can be the perfect vessel to hold your plants. Here are the pros and cons of water trough gardening so you can determine whether it’s the best gardening method for you and your space.

Read more
What to grow in your apartment balcony vegetable garden
Gardens aren't just for houses — here's how to start one at your apartment
Balcony garden with watering can

Planting your own vegetable garden can reap many benefits. For one, consuming more fruits and vegetables is key when you are trying to eat right, get into shape, and stay healthy overall. Plus, growing produce in your own garden means the vegetables have a higher vitamin content than those you get at the market. Your garden's vegetables are also free from harmful chemicals such as pesticides.

Another great perk to growing your own fruits and vegetables is that it saves you money on groceries. And yet another perk: Gardening can be a natural stress reliever because being outside and getting fresh air and sunshine can improve your mood and make you feel rejuvenated.

Read more
Eucalyptus in the shower? Here’s how to grow this fragrant plant for your spa-themed bathroom
Hanging eucalyptus in your shower has a ton of benefits. Here's how to plant it for months of use
Eucalyptus plant in shower

Are you looking to create a spa-like experience in your luxurious bathroom? Eucalyptus in your shower can create a relaxing ambiance and add a refreshing and invigorating aroma to your daily routine. If you're curious about the benefits of having eucalyptus in the shower, how to grow eucalyptus indoors, and the proper techniques for harvesting and using it in your shower, you've come to the right place. We'll walk you through how to grow this fantastic plant indoors and why you need it in your shower today.
Benefits of having eucalyptus in the shower
Eucalyptus is a fantastic choice for your next shower plant. Its aromatic leaves are not only known for their pleasant fragrance, but this plant also sits at the top of many lists of medicinal herbs due to its numerous health benefits. Here are just a few benefits of having eucalyptus in the shower.
Spa-like fragrance
Imagine stepping into your shower and having a soothing and refreshing scent reminiscent of a luxurious spa greet you. Eucalyptus emits a delightful fragrance when exposed to steam and warm water, turning your daily shower into a revitalizing experience. The aromatic oils released by eucalyptus can invigorate your senses and awaken your mind for the day ahead.
Reduces stress
In today's fast-paced world, finding moments of tranquility and relaxation is essential. Eucalyptus has been used for centuries to reduce anxiety, as its fragrance has calming properties. When the steam from your shower activates the eucalyptus leaves, it releases essential oils that can help reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being. Breathing in the fragrant vapor creates a serene atmosphere, allowing you to unwind and melt away the tensions of the day.
Soothes respiratory issues
If you're battling respiratory issues like congestion or allergies, eucalyptus can offer relief. The aromatic compounds in eucalyptus leaves are actually known to have natural decongestant properties. When infused with steam, the eucalyptus vapor can help clear your nasal passages and soothe irritated airways. Breathing in this therapeutic mist can provide a comforting sensation, making your shower a sanctuary for respiratory wellness.

How to grow eucalyptus indoors
If you're sold on the benefits of having eucalyptus in the shower, you're probably wondering how to get your hands on some of this amazing plant. Instead of searching for pricey sprigs of eucalyptus online or in stores, try your hand at growing it on your own as a beneficial indoor plant. Here's how to grow and nurture eucalyptus plants.
Step 1: Choose the right eucalyptus variety
Before embarking on your eucalyptus-growing journey, it's essential to select the right eucalyptus variety to thrive indoors. Some eucalyptus species are better suited for indoor cultivation due to their compact size and adaptability to container gardening. Consider varieties like Eucalyptus gunnii or Eucalyptus globulus, which are commonly grown indoors for their aromatic leaves and manageable growth habits.
Step 2: Create the ideal growing conditions
This aromatic plant thrives in bright, indirect sunlight, so find a well-lit spot near a window where your eucalyptus can receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. Ensure the room temperature remains between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, as the plant prefers moderate warmth. Adequate humidity is also crucial for its growth, so consider using a humidifier or placing a tray of water near the plant to increase moisture levels. Of course, growing it as a bathroom plant ensures wonderful levels of humidity that your eucalyptus will love.
Step 3: Plant and care for eucalyptus properly
When planting and caring for eucalyptus, make sure to use the following techniques to guarantee excellent growth and a healthy plant:

Read more