Keen to grow your own organic produce but want it to be as little effort as possible? Here’s 5 veggies that won't require you to quit your day job to look after them.

Freshly picked zucchinis.
Freshly picked zucchinis.

Spring is the perfect time to get your hands dirty and plant a vegetable patch – the sunny conditions are perfect for lots of vegetables.

With the right tips and tricks, it doesn’t have to be all that hard either. And best of all – you don’t need a big space to get started.

To make things simple, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 easiest vegetables to grow that can all be planted in pots, are great to grow from seed and are fairly fast-growing. Here they are:

A salad made with freshly picked ingredients..
A salad made with freshly picked ingredients..

1. Lettuce

How many times have you bought a whole cos or iceberg lettuce only to use 1 or 2 leaves and then end up throwing the rest of it away a few days later?

Save that wasted cash by growing your own lettuce! Planting now could give you fresh lettuce in as little as 6 weeks.

Choose a variety like baby cos lettuce that can be picked from, time and time again, so you can grab what you need, when you need it. You do this by picking the leaves from the outside of the plant.

If iceberg lettuce is your favourite – that’s fine – but keep in mind you will be waiting a long time to enjoy it because you can only pick it once, as a big ball, like what you’re used to in the shops.

There are lots of different types of lettuce, so if you want to have a range, consider swapping seeds with people.

If you’re not sure whether your lettuce is the ‘pick again’ type, look at the packet and see whether it has loose leaves.

Tip: For loose leaf varieties, never harvest more than a third of a lettuce or other salad green at a time. Each leaf is like a littler solar panel that allows the plant to get the energy it needs, so taking too much can stress it out.

Harvesting zucchinis.
Harvesting zucchinis.

2. Zucchinis

Zucchinis are one of the fastest-growing veggies – with the right conditions, it can take just 6 to 8 weeks from planting to eating.

So, grab yourself a packet of zucchini seeds and plant them where you want them to grow!

They don’t like to be transplanted, so moving an already-sprouted seed – aka seedling – from one spot to another may not go well.

Zucchini plants can get quite big, so make sure you’ve either got enough room upward or outward. This can simply mean getting some wooden stakes and tying your zucchini plant to it as it grows, so that it doesn’t sprawl across your yard.

Once you start getting fruit on your plant – yep, the edible part is called fruit – keep a close eye and pick them when they’re about 20 to 25 cm long. If you don’t, you may find that your zucchinis double in size by the day!

3. Rocket

Rocket is such a great beginner plant because it’s relatively hard to kill.

It comes in tiny little seeds, so one packet will likely have over 100 seeds that can be split amongst friends, family or neighbours to save money.

Rocket is a plant you can pick from again and again – just take what you want and come back to it when you need it again. A small patch, or a large pot, of about 6 to 8 rocket plants is generally enough.

If you’ve never tried rocket before, it’s excellent for adding a lovely pepperiness to salads.

Your seed packet will likely say your rocket will be ready to eat in 4 weeks but we recommend setting your expectations closer to 6 weeks.

Once you’ve got rocket, you’re likely to have it forever. When your plant starts to get seeds, let them dry out and then plant them again. Unlike some other veggies, rocket can be planted any time.

Spring onions. Credit: George Tsartsianidis, iStock.
Spring onions. Credit: George Tsartsianidis, iStock.

4. Spring onion

Spring onions are possibly our favourite of the easy-to-grow veggies because they grow all year round, and you can take them to the brink of death and they’ll still pull through.

Once you’ve got them growing, you only need to chop off the tops – no need to pull out the whole plant. You can cut down to the white part, or just take some of the green part, depending on what your recipe asks for.

Your original plants will last about 6 to 12 months, maybe longer, before the plant will want to go to seed. At this point, you can dry the seeds and plant them again! So there’s no need to fork out any cash a second time around.

Spring onions are a great alternative to onion and can be used as a main ingredient or a pretty garnish to give an ordinary dish a little pizazz.

While we did say this whole list can be grown from seed our top tip for this veggie is actually to buy a bunch of spring onions, use what you need but save 1 to 2 cm of the white bit with roots, and chuck that in some soil. You should be able to get a whole new plant out of that.

Spring onions do grow a bit slower than some of the other veggies on this list, but spring and summer weather will help speed things up. Consider it will take a few months for your spring onion plant to be up and running, ready for you to hack at it whenever you want to decorate a dish.

5. Beans

Beans come in lots of different varieties.

If you’ve got a child, you might like to opt for purple climbing beans to captivate them with the magic of these purple beans turning green when you cook them!

Climbing beans will need space to go upward so get creative with trellises or stakes – it can even be scrap wood. Alternatively, choose a dwarf or bush variety which will only grow around 30 cm tall.

Beans are not only delicious to people, bugs tend to like them too. While some insects are beneficial in the garden you probably still don’t want them chewing away on your produce.

So, to stop things like slaters from munching on your baby bean plants, consider sticking a toilet roll in the ground and then planting your seed in the middle of it. That will give your plant enough protection to get to a point where it can somewhat protect itself.

Toilet rolls won’t work for all veggies though – they’re good for beans because they grow tall and thin but for the likes of zucchinis, you’ll need rings of protection from the likes of an empty plastic bottle.

All going well, you should be picking your fresh beans in a couple of months.

Why are these vegetables the easiest to grow?

Some plants are just easier to grow than others – they tend to germinate, aka send out shoots, without too much fuss and don’t need as much TLC as others.

Not all veggies like to be moved around once they’ve been planted either – growing straight from seed is not only preferable for some plants but is also generally the cheapest option.

Do I need to water my new plants every day?

Yes. Everything needs water every day – especially when they’re just starting to grow.

Give your plants a good drink in the morning or early evening, and avoid watering in the middle of the day as more of the water will evaporate in the heat of the day! During heat waves, you may want to water both morning and early evening.

Bare soil dries out quickly – mulch/pea straw can help stop the soil from drying out, keeping it moist for longer.

Another option is to place all your pots together and use some of the bigger ones to shield the little ones. The plants themselves will need sunlight but protecting the pot is key to it not drying out so quickly.

Do my vegetables need a set amount of sun?

Sort of. As a general rule, leafy greens will need 6 or more hours of sun per day, and plants with a fruit, which includes zucchinis, tomatoes and eggplants, will need at least 8 hours to thrive. Beans and peas, which are technically not a fruit or a vegetable – they are a legume, will also want lots of sun.

However, if the temperature is set to be above 36 degrees, your plant will prefer some shade. If there’s going to be a heatwave, it’s preferable for veggies to spend a week under cover than out in full sunlight. Ideally, they will get some morning sun and be protected from the hot afternoon heat.

If you can move your pots around, great, but if not, you could try covering them with shade cloth or shielding them with a piece of strategically angled cardboard or even an umbrella!

Find out more local gardening tips

Just beginning your food gardening journey? Head to our food gardening hub for more tips and tricks.

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