If you want to grow veggies that are not only simple to grow but have multiple uses, this list will let you know where to get started. Everything other than the corn can easily be grown in any size backyard garden -whether you choose to grow a vertical garden, traditional rows, or raised beds.
1. Lettuce – It takes between 45 and 55 days for most types of lettuce to be ready to eat, which means (depending on where you live) that if you choose right and graduate when you plant, you may be able to harvest up to three times in one year. Lettuce grows best if it’s sown directly into the ground about 1/2 inch deep. You can start seedlings indoors to get a fast start, though.
2. Tomatoes – You can grow tomatoes in a pot if you want to. Choose from hearty beefcake tomatoes or cherry tomatoes (or both). Tomatoes need the warmth of late spring and early summer to grow well. They need up to eight hours of direct sun each day, so pick a sunny place. You can plant the seeds directly or you can start seedlings a little early if you want to baby them a bit.
3. Cucumbers – You can grow cucumbers vertically to save space and they do wonderfully. Just set up supports that are about six feet tall, plant three or four seeds about an inch deep and 12 inches apart in each row when the ground is about 60 degrees F, and maintain even soil moisture. Once they sprout you can train them to go up the trellis. You may need to get cloth strips to help maturing cucumbers continue to grow.
4. Carrots – Taking up to 80 days to mature, these easy-to-grow crops should be sown about three weeks prior to the last expected frost of the season. You can then plant a new crop every two weeks – the last being a couple weeks prior to the first frost of the season. That way you’ll have carrots well into fall. Weed often and keep the soil moist.
5. Turnips – Like most root vegetables, these almost grow themselves. If you use the right soil and keep it moist enough, you can grow turnips easily. They need full sun for the most part but some people do find luck with even partial shade. In fact, you can get more turnip greens if you grow in partial shade, making it a great two-for-one plant.
6. Radishes – Another lovely two-for-one plant, you can harvest the greens and the radish for use in all your cooking. They can be mature in as little as three weeks, so it’s a great plant to start with if you want to learn. They also have a different flavor raw versus cooked, so you can use them in so many ways.
7. Green Beans – Depending on the type you grow, you may need a trellis so that the vine can climb up. Some varieties get really tall – over 12 feet. They can grow all summer long, and you can sow them every two weeks from two weeks prior to the last frost to two weeks before the first frost.
8. Zucchini – You know that zucchini can be used in so many types of dishes, from savory to sweet. That makes it a very versatile and useable plant that can be enjoyed in salads, cooked, and added to other recipes. They are super-easy to grow and can be grown much like cucumbers, vertically or planted traditionally.
9. Corn – Yes, corn is really a grain, but you can grow it in your backyard garden if you plan right. First, consider using dwarf varieties since the stalk is shorter. Start when your soil reaches 60 degrees F, and sow seeds in eight inches of soil where they’ll get full sun. Corn only needs about an inch of water a week, so be sure not to overwater.
10. Onions – Everyone loves onions and you can do far more with onions than you may think. They belong in almost every type of savory dish that you make and give flavor to everything. Onions are planted about four weeks before the last frost of the year. That way they’ll be enjoying the full sun during the time that they need it.
The best thing to do is pick one or two of the above and just get started. You can learn almost everything you need to know about planting and growing and harvesting your vegetables right on the seed packet, as well as in Facebook groups online consisting of gardening enthusiasts.