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Beginners Garden - 10 Best Crops to Start a Garden

Updated on July 20, 2022
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Gardening of all types appeals to me. It soothes my soul and helps me forget about anything else but my connection to the earth.


Novice Gardener

If you are a beginning gardener , chances are you may not have a "green thumb." However, after learning some tips from this hub, we want to get you going down a successful path. We suggest your goal be to grow something simple to plant, a crop that will mature fairly quickly, and to grow crops that will tolerate marginal soil conditions.

So what is the first crop you think of when mentioning the word garden? Almost everyone, novices or non-gardeners think of tomatoes, because there is nothing like a home grown, big red juicy tomato. However, tomatoes are heavy feeders and need a fair amount of maintenance. Bottom line is there are vegetable crops that are easier and more productive to grow for the beginner.

Here are our best suggestions and ones that we think will make your experience a success!

10 Best Vegetable Crops for Beginners

1. Radishes - These are one of the easiest cool weather crops. Radishes can handle a frost, and you are harvesting them in a month. Growing radishes is a great way to get an early start, they are often the first thing out of the garden, and can easily be grown in containers.

2) Lettuce - Once again, lettuce can handle some early frost, and the leaf lettuce spreads out the harvest over several weeks. With their shallow roots, growing lettuce works well in containers. We recommend leaf lettuce varieties until you are a pro.

3) Onions - The nice thing about onions is they can be used as green onions or at maturity, as bulb onions. Purchase the small plants at your local farmers market or local grower and plant early. They are ready when the tops naturally blow over horizontal with the ground.

4) Swiss Chard - Great in cold weather and it takes hot summer days fairly well also. Can last through the summer even in Texas, and carry into a fall harvest. The greens are great cooked in a little olive oil and feta cheese.

5) Green Beans - They like it a little warmer, but you can plant either bush beans for a burst of beans at harvest time, or pole beans that climb more and stretch out the harvest. There is nothing in the grocery store that compares to garden fresh beans.

6) Sugar Snap Peas - Either the original Sugar Snap Peas, which are a climbing vine that needs support, or a bush variety like Sugar Daddy. These usually don't make it in to our house; they are sweet enough to eat right off the vine. Our nine-year-old planted our crop of sugar snap peas this year and was so proud with the process.

7) Zucchini - Start with a bush variety, but these love the later spring days, and once they get started you'll have more zucchini than you know what to do with. Can have a few problems with squash vine borers, but planting early will help avoid those critters.

8) Peppers - Bell peppers, chili peppers, jálapeno peppers, there's a pepper for everyone. Peppers do well in warm, but not hot months. They actually like temperatures below 90 F, but you can keep them productive with an organic mulch to cool them in the extreme heat.

9) Potatoes - Grow them in soil or even in a straw bed. The tubers are straightforward to grow from seed potatoes, and if you can't wait for the final harvest nothing tastes like new potatoes from the garden.

10) Okra - A misunderstood vegetable that makes the list because there is nothing more impressive from a distance than a 5 foot tall freestanding okra plant. They love the heat, and once it gets going you'll have plenty of okra to eat and share.

Try one or more of these alternatives for your beginning garden, especially to get your kids interested in gardening, and you'll be impressed with just how good a gardener you can be.

The Harvest

Here are some photos of items we have harvested over the years.

Green Beans
Green Beans
red potatoes
red potatoes
banana, jalapeno and green peppers
banana, jalapeno and green peppers

Please Share Your Best Garden Results

What Vegetable Have You Had the Most Success Growing

See results

Use Compost To Enhance the Richness of Your Soil

Any gardener will tell you good soil content is key to growing anything well. You can make your own compost or buy from a reputable supplier; either way, compost is essential to having good, rich soil. This is a step that you must include to build good soil that will make your beginning gardening experience successful.

You can build your own compost bin, or invest in a composter.

We also use mulched leaves around the base of our plants to keep the moisture in the soil and to deter the weeds from growing.

Harvesting Tip

Repurpose a 5- or 10-gallon container by using it to harvest your vegetables. Make sure it is the kind with holes in the bottom. Place your harvest in the container and head straight to your garden hose for a rinse. You will keep dirt and mud out of your kitchen sink using this method.

By doing this action over your lawn, you will also repurpose the water!

Feeling green? You should be!


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Joanie Ruppel


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