Best Plants for Beginner Gardeners

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If you’re new to gardening it can be a little overwhelming trying to decide what to plant.

Even after several years of gardening, I sometimes have difficulty deciding what to plant. Each year it takes me a while to decide what to grow. And I often change my mind several times once I think I’ve decided.

I like to grow plants that are easy to take care of, but I also like to try new plants as well. Some of the plants that I’ve included in this list are new to me, but I’ve heard are easy to grow. But most of them I’ve grown myself.

Best plants to start with

Tomatoes

Each tomato plant can produce a lot of tomatoes with minimal care. I would start with just 2 or 3 plants unless you plan on canning or freezing the extra. Or giving them away to family/friends/neighbors.

I prefer growing Roma tomatoes as they are more versatile in the kitchen. I’ve also grown cherry tomatoes as CJ loves to eat fresh tomatoes. I’ve also had more luck with these varieties versus the larger, beefsteak type of tomato.

The one thing to remember with tomatoes is they like a regular watering schedule once the tomatoes are growing. It doesn’t need to be daily, just a regular schedule.

They also need some type of support. I use cages and they are easy to find in most stores that sell gardening supplies. Just put the cage around the young plant and it’s good to go for the summer.

Carrots

Carrots are one of the plants that need to be started by seed. Just lay the seeds out in a row and cover lightly with soil. Then thin once they are 2-3 inches tall.

These grow best in loose soil since the root is the part you eat. Last year my carrots were a little stunted because of my soil.

I live in an area where the soil is largely clay. I amended it with compost and peat moss, but apparently didn’t get it mixed in up good enough. The carrots still grew but were smaller than they could have been.

Zucchini/Yellow Squash

I’ve always considered zucchini and yellow squash to be different, but they are the same thing, summer squash.

They are easy to grow and can be very prolific. Unless you want to be pushing zucchini on all your neighbors, I would only plant 2 zucchini plants. Even doing just 2 you may become known as the zucchini pusher…

Strawberries

Strawberries are the only perennial plant on this list. Once planted they will come back every year and continue to produce strawberries every year.

There are 2 main types of strawberries, June-bearing and Ever-bearing. I’ve tried both and found that I prefer the June-bearing varieties.

The Ever-bearing variety seemed to always produce tiny strawberries for me, and just a few at a time. The June-bearing only produces during June (hence the name) and they tended to be larger for me.

These also spread by runners, though by cutting the runners off they are supposed to produce more strawberries.

Cucumbers

This is another easy plant to grow that can produce a lot per plant. For a single-family 1 to 2 plants is all that is needed.

Since cucumbers are a vine you can grow them on a trellis or on the ground. I’ve always grown them on the ground but want to try the trellis this year.

I tried the trellis last year, but my cucumber plants were so wind-whipped shortly after planting that they never really grew well last year. I’m going to try the trellis again this year and see how it goes.

The biggest problem with growing it on the ground is that the cucumbers can hide beneath the leaves. I’ve missed a few and they got overripe. Overripe cucumbers don’t taste very good.

The solution I found was just to look under all the leaves every few days or so.

Peas

Peas are easy to grow from seed and will continue producing as they are picked. They are a cool-season crop and do tend to struggle once it starts to get really hot out. I usually have to pull them by August.

Peas do need something to grow on. I’ve grown them in pots with nothing supporting them, but they get harder to pick this way. All that is needed is some lattice or garden fencing to latch onto.

Radishes

Last year was the first time I tried growing radishes. I’m not a big radish fan so I sent them with my husband when he took the kids to visit his parents.

The thing I liked about growing them is that they are a very short season crop. From seeding to picking was about 30 days. This allows you to grow multiple crops throughout the summer.

Lettuce

I usually plant lettuce from seed and it is easy to grow as long as it doesn’t get buried beneath another plant. I tried growing it last year, but I made a mistake with my planting and it got covered by other plants and didn’t grow.

I do recommend washing it carefully after picking it. My last successful crop had bugs in it that were hard to see (green bugs on green lettuce). Washing with water got the bugs off, but they needed careful washing since they were hard to see.

Peppers

Peppers are one of the plants that I recommend starting with a small plant from the store. Planted in a sunny location they are easy to grow.

I’ve tried jalapeno and sweet peppers. Both types have produced peppers for me, but I have better luck with the jalapeno peppers.

The sweet peppers produce just fine, but I’ve only ever been able to get a few peppers that look like grocery store peppers. Usually, they end up a lot smaller. They taste fine, just much smaller.

Bush Beans

This year will be my first year trying bush beans. I’ve heard they are easy to grow, but as I’m not a huge fan of beans I haven’t tried them before. Hubby wants to try homegrown beans, so I will try them this year.

Beans come in two main varieties, vining and bush. Since I have limited space I am going to try the bush variety this year. Both types are planted by seed, similar to peas.

Potatoes

Potatoes are also easy to grow. Just buy some seed potatoes or try planting a potato that has “eyes”.

Just cut the seed potato into a few pieces, making sure each piece has at least one eye. Let the cut dry for a day (though I skipped this step last year and they grew fine). If it’s a small potato you can skip cutting it.

Plant each piece in its own spot and it will grow. Once or twice during the summer, you may need to add dirt (hill the potatoes) to prevent the growing potatoes from turning green.

Other tips for beginners

Start small.

You don’t want to become overwhelmed with a large garden right away. You can always expand it next year.

Start with a plant, not a seed.

Unless the plant is best started by seed outside, I recommend starting with a plant from the store.

Protect your plants.

My first garden struggled because of the rabbits. I had to replace several plants within the first few weeks because they ate the plants. Now I surround my garden with chicken wire to keep the rabbits out.

Have you had a garden before? What do you like to grow in your garden?

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