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Vegetables To Grow

Updated on January 6, 2015

Deciding Which Vegetables to Plant in Your Garden

Choosing which vegetables to grow is part of planning your vegetable garden. Your choice will depend on what you like to eat, your level of expertise, where you live, the time of year, the size of your veggie garden and your reasons for wanting a to grow your own food. Do you want to grow vegetables to save money or to improve or maintain your family's health? Or do you simply want to know which vegetables to grow for superior taste? Read through this page to get help in finding the best vegetables to grow.

Most of the time you will want to be growing vegetables and herbs that you want to eat so obviously you will need to choose ones that you will actually use in the kitchen. That will be a good place to start when deciding what to grow. It's a good idea to make yourself a list of potential vegetables for your situation.

Picture credit: wikipedia.

vegetables from your own garden
vegetables from your own garden

What vegetables to grow when?

grow zucchinis
grow zucchinis

1) Easy to grow vegetables when you're just beginning

List of the easiest veggies to grow

  • Zucchini
    • likes sunny positions, soil rich in organic matter, lots of water
    • dislikes frost
  • Peas
    • likes sunny positions (but some shade is okay), fertile soil, regular water
    • dislikes being waterlogged
  • Radishes
    • likes sunny positions (but some shade is desirable when the weather is hot), regular water during dry periods
  • Tomatoes
    • likes sunny, sheltered positions, humus-rich soil, lots of regular water, support with stakes
    • dislikes irregular watering
  • Lettuces
    • likes sunny positions (but some shade is desirable when the weather is hot), regular water preferably in the morning
    • dislikes competing weeds
  • Beetroots
    • likes open, sunny positions, moist soil
    • dislikes inconsistent watering
  • Peppers
    • likes sunny, sheltered positions, well-drained, fertile soil, lots of water, support with stakes
    • dislikes frost
  • Green Beans
    • likes open sunny position, well-drained, fertile soil, regular water, support with stakes
    • dislikes frost
  • Carrots
    • likes open sunny position, light sandy soil better than clay soil, regular water
    • dislikes stones and fresh manure in the soil
  • Onions - green and bulb
    • likes sunny positions (but some shade is okay), fertile soil with good drainage, water only in dry conditions
    • dislikes competing weeds

Book to Help When Starting a Veggie Garden

This book shows you how to start small, but then expand over the next couple of years. It gives you essential techniques, such as watering, mulching, fertilizing, preventing disease, stretching the growing season, and more. There are also plans for 24 different types of gardens, such as a bag garden, a border garden, vertical garden, paintbrush beds, and more.

2) First and last frost dates

First get a rough guide of your frost dates. After setting your frost date, you can view a vegetable garden calendar or download a free trial of vegetable garden planning software which will allow you to plan your garden beds, enter your frost dates and then see when the vegetables you have selected can be planted and harvested in your area..

3) Vegetables to grow in Winter

Cool season veggies

Some vegetables are cool season vegetables which grow best when the air temperature is between 50°F and 70°F (10°C and 20°C). Cool season vegetables include broadbeans, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, peas, carrots, cabbages, beets, lettuces and spinach. These can usually tolerate some frost so it will be possible to plant them before the last spring/winter frost or to harvest them after the first fall/winter frost. These make ideal vegetables to grow in winter or fall, depending on your frost dates.

4) Vegetables to grow in Summer

Warm season veggies

Others are warm season vegetables which grow best at temperatures above 70°F (20°C). Warm season vegetables include mainly the fruiting vegetables such as tomato, peppers, sweetcorn, cucumbers, zucchini and beans. They generally cannot tolerate frost. These will need to be planted after the last spring/winter frost and be harvested before the first fall/winter frost.

What vegetables to grow why?

1) for superior taste

This a matter of personal taste and if this is your reason to grow your own vegetables, you probably already know which vegetables and herbs you wish to grow. Tomatoes do taste significantly better when they are home-grown. This may be due to the fact that you can leave them on the vine until they are red.

Peas and sweetcorn contain sugars which begin converting to starch as soon as they are picked. So the sooner they are eaten after harvesting, the sweeter they will taste. Growing your own will enable you to pick, prepare and eat your produce within half an hour. You can't get much fresher than that!

Vote: Best vegetables to grow for superior taste

Which home-grown vegetables taste better?

See results

2) to save money

  1. Choose vegetables which you use regularly but which are generally expensive to buy.If you only have a small vegetable garden, don't grow vegetables that you can buy cheaply anyway. If potatoes are often cheap in the stores, there is no need to grow them.
  2. Don't grow too much of a vegetable that you can't easily store or preserve (e.g. don't grow too much lettuce - you can't freeze it or dehydrate it).
  3. Picture credit
  4. .
  5. Grow vegetables from which you can harvest leaves as you need (eg. there is no need to chop off the whole Swiss chard plant. Just cut off the outside leaves as you need them).

3) for better health

Giving your children responsibility for a veggie patch may encourage them to eat more vegetables since they can pick and munch on a snow pea when they are playing outside and also they may be more inclined to eat their veggies at dinner time if they have grown them. Easy veggies to pick and munch: sugar snap peas, snow peas, tomatoes, strawberries.

You can choose what gets sprayed on your veggies. You can keep it completely organic to avoid any nasty pesticides or herbicides. According to The Environmental Working Group's research, the vegetables most contaminated by pesticides are:

  • celery
  • bell peppers
  • strawberries (okay, this is not a veggie but you can grow it in your veggie patch)
  • spinach
  • lettuce
  • cucumbers

(Source: EWG shoppers guide)
So if these are foods you regularly consume, and if you are concerned about nasties sprayed on your food, these could be the best vegetables to grow.

To receive the optimal amount of antioxidants, your fruit and vegetables need to be ripened on the plant. So if you are after a good source of antioxidants, you might like to consider growing some things from the following list of vegetables and berries.Note: ORAC units = oxygen radical absorbance capacity (bigger is better). Recommend daily intake: 3500 ORAC units.

Fruit/Veg
ORAC units per 3.5 oz (100g)
Blueberry
2400
Watercress
2200
Garlic
1939
Kale
1700
Strawberry
1540
Spinach
1260
Raspberry
1220
Brussels sprouts
980
Alfalfa sprouts
930
Broccoli
890
Beetroot
840
Red Pepper
731
Onion
450
Pumpkin
404
Corn
402
Eggplant
390
Sweet Potato
301
Carrots
207
Tomato
189

Source: The Australian Fruit and Vegetable Garden by Clive Blazy and Jane Varkulevicius

4) for wider choice

You may wish to grow exotic or unusual vegetables or herbs not readily available in the stores.

Organic Carnival Blend Carrot Seeds - 700 mg
Organic Carnival Blend Carrot Seeds - 700 mg

Not all carrots have to be orange. How about red, purple, yellow, or white?

 
Bean, Pole, Tricolor
Bean, Pole, Tricolor

Not just the usual green beans - you also get yellow and purple.

 
Moon & Stars Watermelon Seeds - 900 mg - Organic - Botanical Interests
Moon & Stars Watermelon Seeds - 900 mg - Organic - Botanical Interests

This watermelon has just the most interesting skin - it looks just like the night sky.

 
Round French Zucchini Seeds - Ronde de Nice
Round French Zucchini Seeds - Ronde de Nice

Have you ever seen a round zucchini?

 
75 Exciting Vegetables for Your Garden
75 Exciting Vegetables for Your Garden

If you are looking for some decorative vegetables not usually found in your supermarket, this book will provide you with some creative ideas - Egyptian Walking Onion, Nutri-Red Carrot, Green Zebra Tomato, Painted Serpent Cucumber, Zebra Hybrid Eggplant and many more - all beautifully illustrated with pen, ink and watercolor.

 

5) for education

Periodic Table of Fruit and Vegetables.

Poster available at Allposters.com

If you have enough space, you could give your child a garden patch of his own where he can grow his favorite vegetables.

Peas and bean seeds are interesting to watch germinate, by placing them between some paper towel or blotting paper and the inside of a glass jar. Pour some water into the jar so that it is in contact with the paper. Within a few days you should be able to see the seeds germinate. Once they have developed leaves, they can be transplanted into the garden.

If you have the right growing conditions, you could try something a little novel, like growing peanuts.

6) to attract wildlife

rabbit with a carrot
rabbit with a carrot

7) to preserve

preserve vegetables
preserve vegetables

How would you like to preserve your harvest?

See results

8) to enter in shows or county fairs

giant pumpkin
giant pumpkin

My reason to grow my own vegetables - Your chance to put your view across.

Click next to your reason then vote

See results

What vegetables to grow where?

shade tolerant vegetables
shade tolerant vegetables

1) Vegetables to grow in shade

Most vegetables will do better with more sunshine, but if your yard is in dappled shade or receives only a few hours of sunlight per day, there are still vegetables you can try. The best vegetables for shady positions are

  • leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens)
  • brassicas (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower)
  • some from the onion family (leeks, shallots, green onions)
  • some herbs (chives, mint, sage, coriander, basil, parsley).

4 x 4 vegetable garden plans
4 x 4 vegetable garden plans

2) in a 4' x 4' vegetable garden

Visit vegetable garden plans to see a variety of ideas for planting vegetables in a 4' x 4' (roughly 1 metre square) garden. This may seem like a small space, but you'll be amazed at how productive even a small space can be.

How do you decide which vegetables to grow?

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    • Jim Houston profile image

      Jim Houston 3 years ago from Wilmer, Alabama

      Very informative lens. JimHouston33

    • profile image

      growownfood6 3 years ago

      Our little greenhouses allow us to plant vegetables and fresh flowers all year and protects them from bad and the bugs.

    • BowWowBear profile image

      BowWowBear 4 years ago

      Love homegrown carrots. So many varieties to choose from which taste nothing like you can find in the stores. Great lens! You have inspired me to start some container gardening!

    • suepogson profile image

      suepogson 4 years ago

      I like growing colourful veg! Luckily most colourful veg is also delicious.

    • RyanBlock profile image

      RyanBlock 4 years ago

      I really like the layout of this lens, seasonal but also based on obvious gardening factors like shade or no shade. I am definitely going to try to do some garden lens structured similarly.

    • profile image

      mouse1996 lm 5 years ago

      I have to look into what grows in my area and my soil. We get pretty hot here so it has to be stuff that can handle that.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      How do you protect the vegetables, there are so many predators here - birds and squirrels consisting the chain of prominent thieves. It is tough to grow your own vegetables ?

    • casquid profile image

      casquid 5 years ago

      I'm in the Mid-West area, so frost comes into play.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Oh and pinned to my "how does your garden grow button" and angel blessed!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      We eat a lot of kale chips so I want to grow kale. Tomatoes are a must - store bought tomatoes are not the same, and the conditions the pickers labor in is awful.I want to grow corn, but it is a bit hard.

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 5 years ago

      I'm a seed hoarder, and deciding what to grow every year is one of my favorite parts of gardening! There's nothing like a lazy hours in the backyard with my seed basket and some strong coffee, making and remaking lists and charts, and envisioning this year's garden in full fruit!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Up in the northern states where I grew up, it was never a hard choice--I could grow everything! Now I live in the Gulf Coast of south Florida in an apartment, so I'm confined to window boxes of herbs and small crops of greens.

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 5 years ago

      I want to grow fresh herbs this year like basil and cilantro.

    • klopcic profile image

      klopcic 5 years ago

      Very useful lens. Thanks for sharing with us. And nice pictures too!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      those veges that saves, and good for health.... love this lens. u have many really good lens.

    • jballs6 profile image

      jballs6 5 years ago

      I tend to grow what we like to eat but add 1 or 2 new vegetables each year

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great article, enjoyed my reading here, thank you for the poll questions too, I enjoy participating.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great lens, love the photographs where did you get them? I have a lens which is about growing veggies in the outback of Australia. We have a tough climate extremes of summer heat and frost in winter. I enjoyed reading your posts, by the way you could mention that peas do better with an addition of lime if the soil is a low pH i.e. acidic. Also never plant carrots in same soil after peas or other nitrogen fixers as the extra nitrogen makes the carrots grow knobbly. Would be great to share some ideas

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 5 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      I plant tomatoes because they taste better than the store bought, cucumbers to make dill pickles (I love garlic dill), green beans to can and Jalapeño peppers to make salsa. I enjoy gardening, we like acorn squash and I'm planning on planting a few hills of those next spring.

    • Patduffy profile image

      Patduffy 5 years ago

      I simply grow a variety of everything. This past growing season, I tried growing heirloom tomatoes and habanero peppers. The tomatoes had the purest, vivid taste of any tomato I have ever eaten before, and the peppers turned out excellent!(and really hot). I also try to grow some easy-high yield crops such as potatoes(I have a lens as to how I grow them)

    • hysongdesigns profile image

      hysongdesigns 5 years ago

      Very nice with lot of infor for beginners!

    • profile image

      capitalwilkinson 5 years ago

      this is the best lens I have seen, makes mine look rather lame, well done.

    • profile image

      BillSimmons 5 years ago

      I plant a little of everything.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      There is nothing better than fresh vegetables from your own garden. The taste can't be compared to what you get in a grocery store that was picked green. Tomatoes and herbs are my favorites to save money. Great lens. Thanks!

      href="http://frugalpatti.com"

    • profile image

      miaponzo 6 years ago

      I have grown veggies, etc before, but right now.. I just didn't think I had a place to grow them.. Plus... in Kuwait it's hard, because of the super high heat most of the time!

    • Muzzie4848 profile image

      Muzzie4848 6 years ago

      What's in season and what I look to eat.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wow! You have it all here! I sure does make sense to grow those more expensive items and enjoy the savings and of course everything just tastes so much better.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 6 years ago from Virginia

      I'm a creature of habit and grow the same ones each year, tomatoes bell pepper and collard greens.

    • profile image

      Craftybegonia 6 years ago

      Very nice lens! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      davidkiser 6 years ago

      Now? you really rock here, Thanks for sharing all this valuable information.

    • deyanis profile image

      deyanis 6 years ago from Oz

      The most comprehensive vegetables lens I've ever found in Squidoo. --- Blessed ---

    • profile image

      marsha32 6 years ago

      most excellent lens! Chock full of information from top to bottom! I've been reading it out loud to my daughter as I went down. We are doing a never ending gardening study.

      I need to go update my garden lens from this year with our totals.

      Blessed by a Squid Angel

    • thehiplady lm profile image

      thehiplady lm 6 years ago

      Very helpful. I'm asking for gardening tools for Christmas and can't wait to get started

    • profile image

      ZazzleEnchante 6 years ago

      Educative, interesting lens, very helpful too. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • GonnaFly profile image
      Author

      Jeanette 6 years ago from Australia

      @cheapskatemate lm: I haven't actually grown coriander in my own garden, but from what I can tell, the leaves seem to change when the coriander flowers. It will bolt to seed prematurely in hot weather, so if your Summers are hot, try growing it in Autumn (Fall) or Winter. Apparently it prefers a sunny position with good drainage and slightly acidic soil.

      Do any of my readers have any other suggestions?

    • cheapskatemate lm profile image

      cheapskatemate lm 6 years ago

      I've been growing coriander for two years now. Each year, after a few months the leaves become really thing and unusable for cooking. Then the stems thicken and go a bit woody, and the plant dies. Do you know what I'm doing wrong?

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      This is wonderful. Very informative and a treat to look at too!

    • profile image

      CleanerLife 7 years ago

      Great information! Veggies always taste best when you eat them fresh!

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      I'll be referring back to this lens a lot! Very nice!

    • DeboraR profile image

      DeboraR 8 years ago

      I like your lens! So colorful and eye catching displays.