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Top 9 Vegetables to Grow for Beginners

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UWB chapter.

​Trying to get started with gardening but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place! When growing your own food, it can be tough to figure out a good way to start learning. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of easy-to-grow foods to help jumpstart the growing, planning, and learning processes:

  1. Lettuce: While most leafy greens are relatively easy to grow, lettuce is by far the easiest. It doesn’t need much sun, will grow in almost any soil, and can even be planted in containers. If harvested correctly, these plants can even grow more leaves! To harvest them, the outer leaves can be plucked from the plant or the leaves can be cut about an inch from the base. Little leaves should spring out of the middle as it continues growing.
  2. Carrots: Planted in early spring, carrots don’t need too much attention. While they can’t be grown in containers, they can be left in the ground long past the first frost, as the soil will keep them insulated. Carrots are also great for gardeners with children, as pulling up the brightly-colored roots is a fun family activity and can encourage the little ones to eat their veggies.
  3. Peas: These little plants grow quickly, even in shadier, cooler weather. They do need a trellis or other place to climb, but they’re one of my garden favorites. They also tend to produce a lot of fruit and bear for most of the spring and summer. Peas are also fantastic for attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies.
  4. Beans: Another trellised vegetable, beans are more temperature-sensitive but can grow in many different kinds of soils. They also release nitrogen into the ground around them, which makes the surrounding plants get a little boost of energy! Beans, if harvested regularly, can produce fruit (which refers to the produce grown on a plant) long into the summer season and even until fall.
  5. Summer squash: While there are many types of summer squash – all quite similar to grow – the zucchini (also known as the courgette) and crookneck/straightneck squash are the fastest-growing and produce the most fruit. These plants can get rather big, but it’s worth reserving space for them since they provide so well for their gardener.
  6. Cucumbers: As the last trellised vegetable on this list, cucumbers are great for summer salads and aren’t too difficult to grow. Most of what they need is just consistent, early-morning watering and regular harvesting. The leaves are a bit prickly, so gloves are advised for those with sensitive skin.
  7. Herbs: Although herbs aren’t technically a vegetable, they’re great for any beginner gardener. Chives and parsley are the easiest to grow and help repel bugs. They’re resistant to molds and pests and provide great flavor for a gardener’s kitchen. Part of what makes them so versatile is that you can put them indoor in pots or other containers instead of planting them outdoors! There are a lot of herb gardening kits online, but personally, I think they’re often way too expensive for what they provide. A great way to plant them indoors is to use terra cotta pots, preferably made in Italy as they are some of the highest quality on the market and last a long time!
  8. Beets: Sometimes referred to as beetroot, beets are a fun vegetable that’s cold-resistant. Similar to carrots, they’re good for gardeners with children and those who have more planting space. Also like carrots, these roots can be left in the ground after the first frost and harvested later in winter.
  9. Tomatoes: Nightshades include tomatoes, tomatillos, sweet peppers, and many more. Tomatoes are the easiest of the nightshades to grow, and they’re a fun pop of color in the garden. They can be grown in containers or directly in the ground, and they love full sun and daily watering. When watering, make sure to not get the leaves wet, as they can develop some powdery mildew that reduces the productivity of the plant. One term to watch out for when purchasing tomato plants is indeterminate. Indeterminate means the plant can grow massive and tends to not stop growing, even during late summer. This kind of tomato plant doesn’t do well in a container, although a gardener is still likely to get some fruit from it. Determinate (the opposite of indeterminate) tomatoes tend to stay smaller and produce a bit less but are much more suited to smaller gardens.


I wish you the best of luck with your gardens this year! Remember, you might not get it right on the first try. A plant might die, the weather might be fickle, or the soil won’t cooperate. That’s okay! It’s also why I compiled this list. I want to give beginner gardeners the best chance at succeeding, even with something small. Aside from this list, I highly recommend researching which varieties of the above plants do well in your area and when the right time is to plant them. A good resource to check out is this one about what to plant and when. The most important information to start with is your growing zone (which is included in the resource previously linked). A lot of Western Washington is in either zone 8a or 8b, but be sure to look up your area for the most accurate information!


Good luck, and may you all have green thumbs this year!

Annika G.R. Bunney is an interdisciplinary creator focusing on traditional writing, nature-based creations, and assorted textual pieces. She is a second-year in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics at the University of Washington, Bothell. Her ever-evolving work draws on classic literature, folklore, and mass media. When not working on academics, she can be found taking care of her many cats and playing with her rescue dog. She also loves wandering in the outdoors, curling up with a good book, or playing video games.