Age-Old Wisdom meets Modern Tools
Try Starting These Easy Veggies From Seed!
Most vegetables in the garden are easiest to plant from seed. In addition, growing from seed is less expensive, offers more variety, and has a higher success rate. Here are some of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed.
Should I Start Vegetables from Seed?
There’s nothing wrong with starting your garden from small plants which you purchase (called “transplants”)—in fact, many people do. There are a handful of vegetables which are challenging for beginners to grow from seed and best purchased as small starts from a garden store/nursery (example: tomatoes). Transplants also allow you to get a head start on growing plants such as tomatoes and peppers that require a long, warm growing season.
That said—unless you have a short growing season—many vegetables are best grown from seed. Here are a handful of benefits of planting from seed:
- Seeds are much cheaper, especially in greater quantities. They often keep at least a couple years, and they can be shared with friends and neighbors, too.
- Seeds offer much more variety than the often limited choice of transplants in a nursery. Just take a look at these seed catalogs and let the dreams begin!
- Some vegetables do not survive being transplated from one place to another.
- Starting from seed means that you can sow seeds directly in the garden, which opens the door to growing crops such as corn, melons, squash, beans, and peas, which simply do not grow as well when transplanted from one place to another.
- Starting plants from seed means you can ensure they are healthy and strong right from the start.
10 Easy Vegetables to Grow From Seed
This is not a complete list, by any means, but these are considered some of the easiest and most common vegetables that can be grown from seeds.
Bean plants are fast growers and thrive in warm, moist soil. Bush beans need no support, but pole beans do need to climb something, such as poles, strings, trellises, or tepees. See our Growing Guide for Beans.
Photo by Smereka/Shutterstock.
Beet roots will develop quickly and uniformly in loose soil, so before planting, work the soil to remove clumps and stones. If you prefer to harvest small beets, double the number of seeds per row; crowding results in small roots. A mix of seeds from red, yellow, and white beets will yield a variety of flavors and colors. Buy packets of mixed seeds or blend your own. See our Growing Guide for Beets.
Photo by Darasp Kran/Shutterstock.
Many beginners find their carrots are short and deformed. It’s important to provide well-drained, soft soil. Mix in some sand and really loosen it up. Also, it is essential to THIN carrot seedlings to the proper spacing so they’re not overcrowded. Be bold! Thin those seedlings if you want carrots to form properly. See our Growing Guide for Carrots.
Prepare in advance for cucumbers; amend the soil with a fertilizer high in nitrogen and potassium to support the plant’s large yields. If possible, plant cucumbers in the sun next to a fence. The fence will serve as support for climbing and act as a shelter. Or plant them near corn. The corn will trap the heat that cucumbers crave and also serve as a windbreak. See our Growing Guide for Cucumbers.
Super-nutritious kale is an easy member of the cabbage family to grow. You can set out plants any time from early spring to early summer and kale will grow until it gets too hot. Plant again the fall, especially if you live in the southern United States. Another nice thing about kale is that it only gets sweeter after being hit by a couple frosts.
Lettuce is one of the few “vegetables” that does fine in some shade and, in extremely hot weather, actually prefers a shady respite. Lettuce growth slows in shade; it is also slower to go to seed, or “bolt.” If you want full heads of romaine and head lettuce to develop, thin them. Allow for 8 to 10 inches between plants. As you thin young plants, save the delicate small leaves for salads. See our Growing Guide for Lettuce.
Plant peas as soon as the soil can be worked—2 weeks before the average last spring frost for your region, if possible. To harvest a continuous supply of peas during the summer, simultaneously sow varieties with different maturity dates. Then sow more seeds about 2 weeks later. Continue this pattern, sowing no later than mid-June. See our Growing Guide for Peas.
Photo by DigiCake/Shutterstock.
8. Winter Squash, Including Pumpkins
Growing a pumpkin is easy and fun. Just give them warm soil that’s rich in compost because they’re greedy eaters. Water often, as they drink a lot, too. Plant seeds on a mound and give them plenty of room (3-foot diameter) for their vines to sprawl. See our Growing Guide for Pumpkins.
Radish seeds are natural companions to carrots. Mix radish seeds with carrot seeds before you sow, especially if your soil tends to develop a tough crust. The quick-to-sprout radishes will push up through the soil, breaking it up for the later-sprouting carrots. As you harvest the radishes, the carrots will fill in the row. See our Growing Guide for Radishes.
Photo by Udra11/Shutterstock.
10. Squash (Zucchini)
Like pumpkins, squash and zucchini also like well-composted soil and need plenty of space (3 to 6 feet apart, warm soil, and lots of sun.) Always water at the soil level—not the leaves—to avoid powdery mildew. Soon enough, you’ll have so many zucchinis, you’ll be leaving them on neighbors’ doorsteps! See our Growing Guide for Squash and Zucchini.
The above are some of the easiest vegetables you can grow, but there are many, many more veggies for you to try! Check out our complete library of Growing Guides for advice on planting all the popular vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers.
And now that you know which seeds are easiest to grow, see our Tips to Starting Seeds Indoors!