First Garden Buying Guide (7 Easy Seeds To Get You Started Growing Your Own Food)
If you’re just getting started gardening, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn how to plan for your first garden, along with our favorite easy-to-grow vegetable seeds for beginning gardeners.
Before you put out a garden, take time to think through the process. Ask yourself the following questions–answering honestly–so that you can be set up for success from the very beginning.
What do you and your family like to eat?
Eggplants are beautiful, but if no one you know will eat them, why waste time and money growing them? Unless you have a way to hand off excess produce (like donating to a food pantry) you’re better off growing only what you know your household can consume. Otherwise, you’re producing a lot of waste. Trust us, you’ll have the most success growing what you already love!
What does your growing space look like?
Do you have a garden plot? Do you get full sun or some shade? Or will you be growing in container pots? How will you water your garden? Taking note of these factors early on will aid you in choosing what plants to grow in your garden.
What hardiness zone do you grow in? What are your average last frost and average first frost dates?
If you don’t know your hardiness zone, you can find it here. This is crucial information–knowing your hardiness zone and average frost dates will help you determine when you can start seeds and transplant starts outside.
What seed-starting equipment do you already have, and what are you willing to buy?
You can put out a garden with minimal equipment if you buy vegetables that can be direct-seeded. You’ll need a growing space, which may include raised beds or containers and potting soil. You’ll need a hose or an irrigation system to water.
If you choose to start seeds indoors, you’ll need seed starting trays, and you might want to invest in a heat mat and humidity dome. For the new gardener ready to jump all in, this is a great deal on an indoor seed-starting setup.
There are no wrong answers to these questions, but you need to know these questions before you even start buying seeds or breaking ground. Seeds grow fast, and it’s better to have the necessary systems in place before you jump into planting.
It’s important to think about the logistics of gardening before you buy any seeds so that you can choose varieties that are particularly suited to your space. For a checklist of tasks to prepare your garden, go read The Beginner’s Guide To Spring Gardening.
7 easiest vegetable seeds for beginners
Gardening is all about decision-making, so we’ve taken the hardest decisions off your plate by choosing the seven easiest seeds to grow from our extensive vegetable collection. All of the vegetable seeds are classic favorites for their taste, ease of growing, and ability to produce an abundant harvest.
Who doesn’t love a homemade salad? Even the pickiest of eaters will appreciate lettuce on their plate when they’ve grown it from seed. Loose-leaf lettuce never forms heads, so you can harvest the leaves at any time, from baby leaf to maturity.
Lettuce will thrive nearly anywhere, from a window box to a raised bed, and unlike most of our favorite vegetables, this plant doesn’t require full sun. Try Black-Seeded Simpson or New Red Fire, or mix the two varieties for a colorful garden bed and bowl!
Keeping with the salad theme, radishes are another excellent choice for the beginning grower. These vigorous root vegetables practically grow themselves, some varieties producing a crop in as less than a month! The All-America Selections (AAS) winner Cherry Belle is a customer favorite for its early harvest (22 days!) and ease of growing. Or try Watermelon for a fun twist–this radish has green skin and red flesh, so it feels like you’re biting into an early season, miniature melon!
Bush beans like Provider are an easy vegetable to grow and a favorite among beginning and seasoned gardeners alike. There is no shortage of ways to enjoy fresh green beans, whether sautéed, steamed, or eaten fresh off the vine! Bush beans are easier to grow than their vining counterparts and are just as productive.
You might be overwhelmed by the thought of growing tomatoes, but don’t be! Tomatoes often get a bad rap for being wild and unwieldy, but cherry tomatoes are among the easier varieties to grow and tend to mature more quickly than other varieties. Tomato seeds do best when started indoors and transplanted, but if you live in a zone that has a growing season of four months or more, you can direct sow tomato seeds.
If you are worried about blight or other diseases, opt for a hybrid variety like Sparky XSL–a productive red cherry that has been bred for extended shelf life, so you have a longer harvest window to enjoy these beauties! You might also be interested in Sun Sugar, a sweet yellow cherry that has the added benefit of being crack resistant.
Peppers need a little more maintenance than other vegetables on this list, as they tend to do better started indoors. Take care to transplant your peppers outside after all danger of frost has passed–these warm-season annuals don’t tolerate cold. Alternatively, you can start your pepper seeds in a large pot and just move the pot outdoors at the appropriate time–peppers thrive in container gardens!
Consider growing Jupiter, a fabulous sweet pepper that ripens from green to red and can be harvested at any point in between. These bushy plants are sure to produce abundantly from midsummer to the first fall frost. If you want an early-season yellow bell, try growing Early Sunsation, a hybrid variety renowned for its disease resistance.
Did you really think that zucchini wouldn’t be on this list? There’s hardly a vegetable that is more recognized for its vigorous growth and abundant harvest than the humble zucchini. You’d better find a good recipe for zucchini bread and zoodles because zucchini vines will astound you with their ability to produce.
Try the classic heirloom Black Beauty for unbeatable flavor, or grow a hybrid variety like Easy Pick Gold II for its disease resistance and ease of harvest. (Either way, you’ll want to wear gloves and sleeves when harvesting zucchini, as the spines can irritate the skin.)
Who doesn’t love carrots? Even the pickiest of eaters will be enchanted by these tiny Thumbelina carrots that are just perfect for container gardening. Another AAS winner, Thumbelina, is a quick grower, so be sure to plant successions of this tasty snack! Little Finger Baby is another excellent container variety that is quick to mature, producing a crop in as little as 62 days.
No matter your gardening experience or your available space, you can have the garden of your dreams this season. Try growing these beginner-friendly vegetables, and you’ll be hooked! The beautiful thing about gardening is that your garden is personalized to you–to your tastes, your loves, and your experience level. Start small and start with plants you already love, then build on your experience season after season. Before long, you’ll surprise yourself with how far you’ve come!