If you’ve always dreamt of growing your own veg, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s probably easier than you think.
Home-grown veg just tastes better than shop-bought produce. Plus, it’s cheaper, greener, and helps you avoid unnecessary chemicals. There’s something so satisfying about cooking and eating food you’ve grown yourself – and if that weren’t enough to tempt you, growing your own veg is a great way to stay active.
Of course, some plants are easier to grow than others, so if you don’t have much experience, it’s best to start with produce that’s simple to nurture. But the good news is that these include some of the most delicious and nutritious veggies around!
Our guide to the 10 easiest-to-grow veggies will help you on the way to creating your very own kitchen garden.
If you’ve never eaten homegrown beetroot before, get ready for a treat!
Beetroot that’s fresh from your garden is far tastier than the packaged stuff you get in shops, and growing your own means you’ll have a glut ready to roast, eat fresh in salads, or turn into soup. Plus, beetroot is packed with vitamins A and C, is high in fibre, and is a beautiful way to add colour to your food.
Beetroot is also compact and easy to grow, so it’s ideal if you’re a beginner with a smaller garden. Beetroot seeds do well when they’re sown into the ground anytime from March-July, so now’s an ideal time to get your crop started. It usually takes around two months before beets are ready to eat, and you can pull them up when they’re about the size of a golf ball.
Some of the easiest beetroot varieties include ‘Boltardy’, which has a classic deep red flesh, while ‘Boldor’ has vivid orange flesh and a sweeter flavour. For a gorgeous range of colours, you can try a rainbow mix. And make sure you keep the leaves, as these are delicious sautéed until tender!
To learn more about growing your own beetroot, check out this RHS guide.
2. Salad leaves
If you’re excited about growing your own vegetables and don’t want to wait a long time to sample your produce, you might want to grow some salad leaves. Salad leaves are some of the fastest-growing veggies, with some varieties ready to eat in just three weeks.
You don’t even need a garden to grow many types of salad. If you’re a fan of rocket, just sow the leaves into a pot of compost and pop it on a sunny windowsill. And, if you want to grow lettuce, it’ll take around six weeks, and it’s best grown outside, either in patio containers, window boxes, raised beds, or straight into the ground from spring all the way through until autumn.
You could try growing a range of different leaves so your salads always have different colours, textures and flavours – or you could just grow mixed varieties, like ‘Nice ‘n’ Spicy’ or ‘Crunchy Blend’. Do bear in mind, however, that you’ll probably need to protect your lettuce from slugs and snails.
To find out more about growing your own salad leaves, check out this RHS guide.
Another vegetable that’s incredibly easy to grow is the humble radish, which is also one of the quickest vegetables to grow from seed.
Radishes can be ready just 24 days after sowing, and their light, peppery flavour and crunchy texture mean they’re an excellent way to spruce up salads – though they’re also delicious in stir-fries, noodle soups, or sliced on top of avocado toast.
You can sow seeds directly into the ground or into a pot – just keep them about two inches apart in loose soil. One of the reasons radishes are so easy to grow is that they’re hardy plants that require very little maintenance and don’t usually struggle with pests or frosts. They also like cool weather, so you can also sow them well into autumn – but seeds sown in spring and summer usually do best.
One of the most popular radish varieties to try is ‘French Breakfast’ – which has crisp red and white roots – while ‘Scarlet Globe’ is a vibrant crimson with white flesh. The ‘Pink Beauty’, ‘Easter Egg’ and ‘Valentine’s Day’ varieties are all easy to grow too, and if you’re looking for a bright selection of colours, try ‘Rainbow Mixed’.
For more on growing your own radishes, have a read of this RHS guide.
Courgettes are known for being one of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed. They just need some well-composted soil, sunshine, and plenty of space – and just one plant will produce an abundant crop. If you have two plants, you’ll have so many courgettes you’ll need to start sharing them with your neighbours!
For best results, the RHS recommends that you sow your courgettes seeds indoors in April or early May, before planting them outside in early summer. Or, if you’d like to sow them directly into the ground outside, try this once the soil has had a chance to warm up in late May or early June.
If you’re planting in the soil, try to leave at least three feet between seeds so there’s room to grow. Courgettes love moisture, so be sure to water regularly.
If you end up with too many courgettes, just pick them when they’re really small. Baby courgettes are delicious in pasta and salads! The ‘Defender’ variety grows well in the UK and is great for small spaces, but you might want to grow a yellow crop like ‘Gold Rush’. Just make sure you don’t throw away the flowers, as they’re delicious stuffed and fried!
For more details on growing your own courgettes, check out this RHS guide.
Fresh, juicy, and sweet, tomatoes are a great source of folate, vitamin C, and potassium – and growing your own means you’ll always have some to cook with or pop into sandwiches and salads. If you choose the right type of tomato they’re also easy to grow, and you can either grow them from seed or buy small plants from garden centres.
If you’re growing from seed, it’s best to choose a low-maintenance bush variety rather than a cordon type. Cordon tomatoes grow up to six feet and need tall supports, whereas bush tomatoes are shorter and wider, so grow easily in pots and baskets. They also don’t need much maintenance except watering and feeding.
However, if you have a large garden or a greenhouse, you can grow either type – just bear in mind that tomatoes like lots of sun – whether it’s a bright windowsill or a sun-drenched patch of garden. The ‘Romello’, ‘Red Profusion’, ‘Balconi Red’, ‘Alicante’, and ‘Tumbling Tom’ varieties are some of the easiest tomatoes to grow.
The RHS recommends that you sow tomato seeds in late winter if you’re growing them in a greenhouse. But if you’re nurturing your crop outside, early spring is better.
For more on growing your own tomatoes, have a read of this RHS guide.
If you love peas, wait until you try them freshly picked from your own garden! Peas grow easily in the UK, and our cool, damp climate means we can take our pick from a wide variety of delicious peas including shelling peas, mangetout, and sugar snap pods.
If you have space in your garden, you can sow your pea seeds straight into the soil, supporting the growing plants with stakes and canes. But you can also grow peas in containers – just be sure to choose a compact variety that doesn’t require the same support. Peas take around two to three months to be ready and the more you pick, the more peas your plants will produce!
And more good news is that you can sow peas nearly all year round. RHS advice suggests that, if you’d like to start your crop off in late winter (February to March), sow them under cover to prevent rot. Though from late March onwards, you can sow them directly into the soil outdoors.
For lovely plump peas, you might want to try ‘Kelvedon Wonder’, or if you’re growing in a container, the ‘Half Pint’ variety is a safe bet. If you want an abundance of shelling peas, try ‘Rondo’ – or, for something totally different, try the mangetout ‘Shiraz’, which has deep purple pods.
Whatever type of pea you choose to grow, try to use it as quickly as possible once picked, as they don’t have much of a shelf life.
To find out more about growing your own peas, check out this RHS guide.
7. Onions and spring onions
Onions are one of the most versatile vegetables around, and growing your own means you’ll always have some to hand to use in your cooking.
You can grow onions from seed, but the easiest and quickest way to grow them is from immature bulbs called sets. For best results, plant a set onion into the earth sometime between late April and early March and watch it grow into a bigger onion!
You can plant onions throughout spring and into late summer, though if the latter they won’t be ready until the following spring. Your onions are ready to pull up when the leaves become floppy and turn yellow. For a colourful mix of red, white, yellow, and pink onions, try a four-colour mix.
Alternatively, you could plant spring onions. In spite of their delicate appearance, spring onions are very hardy, and even the frosts and icy temperatures won’t kill them. You can sow some spring onions into late autumn and you’ll have your first crop ready for early spring. If you’re planting in late summer or autumn, go for the ‘White’ Lisbon variety.
To find out more about growing onions, have a read of this RHS guide.
Aside from being one of the most famous superfoods (Kale is packed with Vitamins A, C and K, as well as manganese, calcium, and potassium) kale is incredibly versatile. It’s delicious in salads, stews, pastas, and smoothies, and can be baked, fried, steamed, or sauteed. It’s also surprisingly easy to grow!
Kale is a pretty compact crop, so it can grow in pots as well as in containers and in the ground. It has very few issues with diseases or pests, is hardy, and can tolerate all kinds of temperatures – it even tastes better after a few frosts! You can harvest kale at many different stages, and its flowers and buds are also delicious!
If you prefer to eat younger leaves, you may only have to wait two months for your first crop to be ready. Cavolo Nero (or black kale), is one of the best varieties to try. Other good varieties include ‘Meadowlark’, ‘Kapitan’, ‘Curly Roja’, ‘Reflex’ and ‘Black Tuscan Lacinato’.
You can sow kale seeds directly into the ground from late spring to early summer. For more on growing kale, have a read of this RHS guide.
9. Green beans
Green beans are another popular choice for new gardeners because they only need sunlight and moderately rich soil to flourish. But even when the soil isn’t good quality they can still do well because they fix the nitrogen as they grow.
There are two types of green beans: bush beans and pole beans, aka climbing beans. Bush beans work well in small spaces and can grow in containers and pots as well as on the ground. Climbing beans grow vertically, so they’re great if you don’t have much room, though they need tall, sturdy supports. They can also grow in pots as well as on the ground.
Green beans are packed with vitamin C, folate, and vitamin K, and their plants are generous yielders, so you’ll have plenty of delicious fresh beans to use up in your kitchen. Easy varieties to grow include ‘Blue Lake’, ‘Provider’, ‘Cobra’, ‘Contender’, ‘Maxibel’, ‘Dragon Tongue’, and ‘Tongue of Fire’.
The RHS recommends sowing outdoors from early spring to late summer. For more on growing green beans, check out this RHS guide.
10. Swiss chard
Swiss chard – or just chard – is actually a member of the beetroot family, though its dark leaves and mild flavour are more similar to spinach. It’s one of the most beautiful vegetables you can grow, with stalks coming in gorgeous jewel colours, from ruby red to pomegranate pink and golden yellow.
Though its deep green leaves are similar to spinach, it’s easier to grow because it’s much hardier– and you can sow seeds straight into the ground from March-July. It can tolerate both high and low temperatures, and a single sowing will mean you can enjoy chard for many months. Chard grows best when sown directly in the ground, though if you’re growing in winter, you’ll probably need a greenhouse.
Chard is also a superfood and packed with vitamins A, C, and K. Young leaves are delicious eaten raw in salads, while larger leaves are better cooked. Try the ‘Bright Lights’ variety for an array of rainbow-coloured stems, ‘Charlotte’ for striking red stems and veins, and ‘Bright Yellow’ for golden yellow stems and green leaves.
For more on growing Swiss chard, check out this RHS guide.
Growing your own vegetables is something many of us have always wanted to do but never got around to. If you don’t have much gardening experience, it can be hard to know where to start, but you definitely don’t need to have a green thumb to grow your own produce.
You don’t even need a garden to grow your own veggies. Depending on the plant, sometimes just a balcony or sunny windowsill is enough to begin creating your kitchen garden. Food always tastes better when it’s homegrown – and growing your own veg from scratch won’t only help you save money, it’ll encourage you to eat more sustainably too.
And if that weren’t reason enough to pop to your local garden centre, remember that gardening is known to be a relaxing and meditative activity – so there’s a good chance the whole process will help you destress too!
For more gardening content, why not visit the home and garden section of our website?