Here are the easiest and most foolproof vegetable and herb plants for beginner gardeners, plus tips on how to help them grow healthy and strong.
For the seasons that I’ve planted my own backyard garden, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’m still making tons of mistakes. Still learning. Still growing (just like my plants!)
But there are a few key vegetable and herb plants that have really come through for me season after season. They always seem to produce good crops. They’re just really hardy and able to withstand anything an overwhelmed and confused beginner gardener can throw at them!
So, if you’re a beginner and brand new to gardening, I recommend starting with the vegetables and herbs that are foolproof and easy to grow.
Here are some of the best and strongest plants I’ve found:
I’m such a huge fan of growing herbs in my beginner backyard garden. Herbs add so much fresh flavor to every dish. And just being able to pick what you need – while the herbs are as fresh and flavorful as possible – is the greatest feeling. So much better than trying to plan ahead and buy what you need at the grocery store, only to have half of it wilt before you can use it!
I’ve also found that most herb plants are excellent for beginner gardeners. From my experience, they seem to thrive and grow regardless of the weather conditions, the mistakes I’ve made, etc.
Another bonus for beginner gardeners: most herb plants require very little space, even as they grow.
I typically plant four (4) herb plants in one 4-foot-by-4-foot raised garden bed.
Here are the herbs I’ve had the greatest success with:
All of the tomato plants I’ve grown have turned out strong and healthy. They’ve all produced good crops. They really seem to be one of the most hardy of all plants.
What I’ve learned:
Although they start out small, tomato plants can grow several feet tall! Since they grow mostly upright, I find that two (2) tomato plants will fit in one four-foot-by-four-foot raised garden bed.
Garden Supplies Needed for Tomato Plants
Be sure to buy a tomato cage to help the tomato plant grow upright. And put the cage over the plant as soon as you plant it in the ground (as a little seedling). My advice: buy the absolute largest size you can find because, as I mentioned, the plant grows like crazy. We currently have one tomato plant that has outgrown a (large!) tomato cage and sort of just ripped it out of the ground overnight one night!
Best Tomato Variety for Beginners
The Sun Sugar Tomato is a favorite of mine from this summer. They’re tiny cherry tomatoes that turn a beautiful vibrant orange color, and one plant can produce hundreds of tomatoes. They’re sweet, but with a bit of tartness. Yum!
The cucumber is another plant I’ve had incredible success with, even as a beginner gardener. This is a plant that just knows how to grow strong and healthy, come what may!
Like the tomato, the cucumber plant grows absolutely out of control over the course of several weeks. So I find that I can fit only two (2) cucumber plants in one four-foot-by-four-foot raised bed.
Garden Supplies Needed for Cucumber Plants
I highly recommend buying a trellis for each of your cucumber plants. The vines will grow in every direction without a little guidance and direction from you. So plant your cucumber seedling in front of a trellis and, as it grows, help arrange the vines so that they wrap themselves upward.
Not Only Roses Have Thorns
Did you know almost all cucumber varieties have prickly spines on them? If you’ve only seen the smooth and sleek kind in the grocery store, you’d never know! I never knew until I grew my own cucumbers. They start out extremely prickly and spiny when they’re tiny, baby cukes. And then the spines get smaller as the cucumber grows. So know that there isn’t anything wrong with your cucumber if it has prickly spines – it’s normal. Just scrub them off under the sink or else peel off the skin before serving. And be carful when you’re tending your cucumber plant – it’s basically prickly all over (on the stalks and leaves too).
Here’s another plant that just grows like crazy!
I’ve found I can fit only one zucchini plant in a four-foot-by-four-foot raised bed. The vines just stretch out forever in every direction. To keep the plant healthy and thriving, you have to give it plenty of space to grow!
One Challenge With Zucchini Plants
One thing to watch out for with zucchini plants is Powdery Mildew. It’s a fungus that will start as small white blotches on the zucchini plant leaves. Over time, it can easily spread throughout the plant.
This must be a really common problem with zucchini because it has happened to me in two different gardens. Luckily, the mildew was only a cosmetic problem for my plants. The zucchini still grew strong and healthy, despite the splotches on the leaves.
What I’ve learned:
The best way to prevent the mildew is to avoid getting water droplets on the leaves as much as possible. So water your plants first thing in the morning, when the sun will have time to evaporate all of the water droplets from the leaves. And try using a watering can instead of a garden hose with a sprayer attachment (so you only get the soil wet, but not the leaves).
If you do find white splotches on your zucchini, it’s possible to mix up an organic, homemade solution to stop the problem. The earlier you catch it, the better!
Yellow squash, also sometimes called summer squash, is another plant that has always thrived in my gardens.
Yellow squash tastes similar to zucchini: crisp outside and soft inside, with a very mild, bland flavor.
The yellow squash plant also looks very similar to the zucchini plant (I couldn’t tell them apart before the veggies started growing).
I’ve found that the instructions and challenges I’ve described above for zucchini are exactly the same for yellow squash.
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