13 Vegetables That Take the Least Amount of Time to Grow
Master Gardeners reveal the fastest growing veggies—plus a few foods you can grow without seeds!
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Grow an easy-peasy veggie garden
You've burned through all the Netflix shows, organized all your closets, and baked so much banana bread everyone's sick of it. Why not transfer all that restless energy into a creating bountiful veggie garden? Imagine how convenient it would be to peruse your own garden to "shop" for tonight's dinner. And before you talk yourself out of it, you don't have to have a green thumb. Even if the only thing you've ever planted was a cosmos in a styrofoam cup for your mom on Mother's day—you can do this. Simply follow the instructions from the seed packets for your region and use these tips from Master Gardeners, and you'll have a basket full of fresh, tasty veggies in no time! Follow these 13 tips to grow the perfect vegetable garden.
Kids might not like the peppery taste of this root vegetable, but they'll love seeing radishes sprout up in just three to four days. Parents love that they're around one calorie per radish, and packed with flavonoids for a healthy heart. To have a handy supply all season long, plant more seeds about every ten days. Radishes are also one of the easiest vegetables to grow inside.
Pro tip: "Make sure you thin your seedlings to three inches apart for best results," says Kirsten Conrad, Virginia Cooperative Extension Agriculture Cooperative Extension Agent in Arlington County and the City of Alexandria.
Harvest time: Three weeks
Garden fresh green beans are a favorite staple in gardens because they're tasty and versatile. They're great for eating fresh or for canning and freezing. Green beans come in two varieties—pole and bush. Pole beans are climbers and require staking or a trellis. Bush beans are compact and don't need extra support.
Pro tip: "Plant every two weeks for continual harvest all summer long. For maximum yield, plant pole bean varieties instead of bush beans," Conrad suggests.
Harvest time: 55 to 65 days.
Nobody wants to spend hours weeding a veggie garden—keep your weeding to a minimum using these simple remedies.
If veggies could be labeled as tiny and adorable, microgreens would happily wear that name tag. Microgreens are basically, baby plants that you can grow, pick, and eat—all in your kitchen. Even though they're small, they're big on flavor and ideal for salads, stir-fries, and sandwiches. All you need is microgreen seeds, a growing tray, and some growing medium.
Pro tip: Presoak seeds overnight and place them very closely on trays to germinate. Allow them to grow to nearly three to four inches tall before eating, Conrad advises.
Harvest time: Two to three weeks.
An unexpected cold front coming through? You'll want to know how to protect your garden from extreme weather conditions.
If you haven't tasted beets, you're missing out on a versatile and tasty veggie. They're naturally sweet when roasted and delightfully sour and salty and when pickled. What's great about growing beets is you can harvest them when they're younger or wait till they're bigger.
Pro tip: "Beet seeds, which look like tiny meteorites, are actually little fruits that contain one to four seeds. A packet of seed-fruits goes further than you think," says Owen.
Harvest time: Four to five weeks
Pardon the pun, but you just can't beat these health benefits of beets.
We know them as baby carrots—the sweeter and more tender version of full-size carrots. They're "official" name is Nantes— named for the region in France where they were originally grown. Look for "Nante" or "finger-size" on seed packet labels to ensure you're getting smaller carrots.
Pro tip: "Carrot seeds are tiny and hard to see. For hassle-free sowing, mix carrot seeds in some sand. Fill a Kraft parmesan cheese container with the mixture and shake out rows of carrot. Use the same parmesan cheese container to cover seeds with soil. Fill with sifted compost or peat moss and sprinkle a light layer over seeds," says Marion Owen, Master Gardener in Kodiak Island, Alaska.
Harvest time: 30 to 40 days
Don't pass up on growing this veggie. Kale is a superfood full of antioxidants and vitamins A, K, B6, and C.
Pro tip: "For a quick crop of kale greens, sow seeds directly outside in a "swath" or scatter thickly, as if feeding chickens. Harvest as gourmet greens, trimming plants when 2 to 3 inches tall. To prevent kale from becoming strong, bitter, or tough, keep it well-watered, especially in warmer climates," advises Owen.
Harvest time: 55 to 75 days (or when the leaf is as big as your hand)
You never know, gardening could turn out to be your favorite hobby.
It's so easy to sneak good-for-you spinach into just about any food—it wilts when it's heated, so spinach haters will never know it's there. Even better, Owen says you do not need to wait until the danger of frost is over, to plant the seeds. "Spinach adores cool weather."
Pro tip: Spinach is a heavy feeder, meaning it requires more nutrients than some other veggies. Skip the chemical fertilizer. "Feed the soil, not the plants. Create a fertile soil for spinach and all veggies with homemade or bagged compost," Owens says.
Harvest time: 40 days
Discovering there's less meat to choose from at the grocery store these days? Use your fresh spinach in these delicious vegetarian recipes.
Enjoy your first crunchy cucumber quicker by planting cucumber seeds indoors. Cucumber seeds should not be clumped together as it's too difficult to separate the seedlings later without snapping roots, Owen says.
Pro tip: Each time you transplant cucumbers, either to the next sized pot or into the garden, the best way to prevent transplant shock is to let the cucumber plant become a little pot-bound. Doing this, you ensure that the roots carry with it, a lot of soil to its next home, Owen says.
Harvest time: 40 to 50 days
Give peas a chance, and you'll never have to choke down mushy canned peas again. The most common varieties grown are English peas (or shell peas) with an inedible shell and snow and sugar snap peas that have an edible shell. Seeds can be planted as soon as the soil is workable, and they'll be fine if late snow falls on them.
Harvest time: 60 to 70 days