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Deciding What to Grow: Top Choices for First-Time Gardeners

Growing your own food can be a daunting task, so I think it’s especially important for first-time gardeners to set themselves up for success. One way to maximize your probability of a decent harvest is to plant varieties that are relatively uncomplicated.

Here are some of my top picks for beginner gardeners:

  • Tatsoi – I like growing Asian greens because they’re hard to find and expensive. Resow every two weeks to ensure a constant supply of delicious baby salad greens or full-size cooking greens.
  • Happy Rich Chinese Kale – Another Asian vegetable that’s pretty easy to grow and you’ll never find at the grocery store. The leaves, stems, and mini-broccoli heads are all edible and super delicious.
  • Easter Egg Radish – Radishes are great for beginning gardeners because they’re quick to germinate, quick to mature, and take up very little space in your garden. This multi-color mix of red, purple, and white round radishes are sure to please kids and adults.
  • Sun Gold Cherry Tomato – Probably the most complicated item on the list because it requires staking or trellising, but a vigorous producer that bears fruit for months. Well-worth the extra effort!
  • French Sorrel – One of the easiest plants you can grow. Sorrel is a hardy perennial that pretty much takes care of itself. The lemony leaves taste great in salads, soups, and sauces.

When I find a variety that’s relatively bomb-proof, I like to stick with it year after year. Which produce varieties do you find the most forgiving?

Image courtesy of Shira Golding via a Creative Commons license.

7 comments
  1. Becky Striepe

    I’ve had good luck with rosemary! It puts up with my sporadic watering, and now that I’m watering more often those babies are starting to thrive! I’ve heard that okra grows really well, even in bad soil, and I’d like to give that a go when I’m able to plant in the ground again.

    1. Rachel Shulman

      Most herbs are a good choice for beginners, especially when you buy plants from nurseries rather than starting them from seed.

  2. Danielle

    Peppers of all kinds. JalapeΓ±o and pablano peppers are native to the US and put up with nature pretty well. Especially heirloom varieties. They are high yield plants. Everyone likes salsa. It’s is also easy to can them as pickles because you don’t need a pressure canner.

    1. Becky Striepe

      Oh yay! I’ve got some hot peppers in my container garden, too. I got really into making my own hot sauce when we were getting lots of peppers from the CSA, so I’m hoping to pick that up again with a potted pepper plant.

  3. Garp

    I always use any extra space for more tomatoes or peppers. You can can up the peppers diced, made into marinara or salsa with your peppers and onions and they keep all winter.

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