Food & Nutrition

7 Easiest Vegetables to Grow at Home (Small-Space Picks Included!)

We all can benefit from strengthening the connection to our food, where they were grown, and how they end up on our plates.

One of the golden standards for deepening this connection to our food is to grow it ourselves! Gardening comes in so many forms, large scale gardens taking up acres of land to having a small windowsill garden in your kitchen. And yet, both beneficial and supporting your health no matter how big or small you can garden.

If you’ve been following my personal journey for the past year, you know that my husband and I are changing our lifestyles and moving out in the forest of TN so live more sustainably and homestead. This process is a dream come true and one that includes gardening!

Through this journey I’ve learned so many tips, tricks, and basic skills to make gardening and growing your own food incredibly joyful and easy. Here are what I’m deeming as the top easiest vegetables to grow.

Why You Should Try Growing Your Own Foods

If you’re able to grow your own food, then this practice is a must!

If you’re unable to grow your own food or simply aren’t lit up by the idea after you try it out once, then the next best action to take is to seek out your local farmers and support them by signing up for a local CSA where you can reap all the health benefits of consuming local and fresh produce and support farmers.

Otherwise, having this connection with your food is such a beautiful experience! I’ve been amazed at how wonderful Mother Nature is by giving us the gift to plant the tiniest of seeds with organic soil, water, sunlight, and love to then grow into huge abundant produce.

The first few foods we started to grow years ago in our city loft, which is a very small space, were herbs on our balcony patio and inside by a window. It was such a fulfilling act to plant all the seeds and starter plants into small pots and tend to them weekly by watering them, checking in on them, and then being able to snip a fresh herb here and there for garnishing dishes.

Adds Fun and Joy to the Healthy Eating Process

By growing your own food, there’s an additional element of joy layered on top of your meal times and eating practices. You’re able to appreciate and feel even more gratitude for the food you’re nourishing your body with.

Not only that, but who doesn’t love to get their hands a little dirty and play in soil by harvesting the food you grow? That act of play and fun can bring back so many childlike feelings of freedom and space we all can use more of in our lifestyles!

Remember, our eating habits aren’t just about what we eat, it’s also about our food experience.

Encourages You to Eat More Plant-Based, Whole Foods and Learn to Cook Them

With gardening, you’re most likely growing vegetables, maybe some fruits, beans, and starchy carbohydrates like potatoes. When you grow all of these plant-based foods you’re far more likely to consume the food you grow to reduce food waste and to reap all the benefits of your hard work.

If you’re new to plant-based foods, then click here to check out my comprehensive guide.

It’s a Stress-Relieving Practice

Research has shown just spending 20 minutes a day outside in nature can boost our overall mood and wellbeing. By gardening in the soil or even tending to potted plants inside your house or outside on a porch can instantly be a grounding exercise in stress relief.

For me, I’ve noticed that picking weeds from the raised beds has not been a stressor at all, but a meditative practice that I actually look forward to!

Helps Reduce Single-Use Packaging

You know all those pre-washed bags of spinach you pick up at the grocery store in the plastic bag? Well not only does growing your own food allow you to ditch all the plastic and single-use plastic, but it’s much more affordable in the long-term.

Instead of purchasing foods like spinach, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers in packages you’re able to pick them off the vine and take them right into your home to enjoy.

Affordable And Saves Resources

In addition to reducing single-use plastic, you’re also saving resources (not just money!) in the long-term.

Not only do you save money by purchasing seeds or starter plants at the start of each season, but you’re able to save so much time or at least reframe the time you do spend grocery shopping which is transitioned into a much more enjoyable activity like tending to a garden.

You’re also able to potentially decrease all the stress of running to the grocery store last minute for ingredients and decrease commute time to grocery stores which can support the environment.

Of course there are upfront costs such as gardening tools, soil if you don’ have any to work with, and seeds, but in the long run you’ll save a bundle. For example, we ordered seeds for our 1200 square foot garden space and it cost us the same amount of one week of groceries…one week! And we’ll have that produce and food giving back to us for almost an entire year.

How To Pick Which Vegetables To Grow For Your Space

1. Indoor or outdoor

If you’re indoor gardening, you’re only limited by the space you want to dedicate to your indoor gardening. For you that may be a windowsill or a kitchen countertop, so that will help you organize how many vegetables or herbs you can actually grow.

On the flip side, if you have outdoor space, decide how much of that will be used as gardening space in order to plan out how many vegetables you can grow.

It always helps to consider what vegetables, herbs, and fruits and produce you will actually use!

During this planning process, I believe it’s helpful to draw or sketch out your garden space if it takes up a good amount of your yard or patio outside to make sure you have enough room for the produce to grow, and enough room for you to move comfortably around it.

2. Space consideration

If you’re able to grow your garden in soil within the ground, you’ll have much more wiggle room to play around with for most vegetables, especially root vegetables like potatoes and carrots which need a little space to grow.

There are many ways to set up your garden from growing directly in the ground, creating mound beds, or created boxed raised beds which often have wood or something around the garden bed containing it.

If you have a balcony, patio, or small garden space outside, you can purchase large planters or planter boxes filled with soil to grow things like tomatoes, mint, herbs, peppers, cucumbers, and more.

If you have an indoor garden, things like small planters by a window or sunny area in your house can work beautifully for small things such as herbs. If you’re indoor gardening, herbs are the easiest to start with and more forgiving than if trying to grow something that requires more direct sunlight such as a vegetable like cucumbers, etc.

If you are indoor gardening and want to grow lettuces, sprouts, etc. there are some great electronic indoor garden products that can support sunlight/UV to help the seeds grow.

3. Your zone

Where you live plays a huge role in what you can grow per season. The best way to figure out what kinds of vegetables you can grow is to look up your location and zone you’re in.

For example, you won’t be able to grow pineapple in Alaska, just like we aren’t able to grow plentiful avocados in Tennesse. You must pay attention to your unique local climate, sunlight, soil, etc. to make sure your garden thrives.

4. Level of commitment and patience

No matter what you’re choosing to grow depending on your zone and other areas above, you’ll need to make a commitment! Gardening and growing your own food takes lots of time, patience, care, and work so be sure you’re committing to this practice and you’ll see the best results.

All plants will not only need to be watered sometimes multiple times a week depending on your location, but also pruned, beds weeded, and checked on to ensure there are no bugs or insects damaging their growth.

5. Wildlife and weather

If you’re gardening outdoors then you’ll need to pay attention and be mindful of Mother Nature, including the elements of weather and wildlife. Animals such as deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds, moles, insects, etc. will love your food as much as you do!

Just know that a small part of having your own garden is that it will go back to nature, and that’s okay. There are many preventative things you can do such as making sure your garden fencing is high enough so deer can’t jump in, and low enough to the ground that rabbits can’t sneak in for example.

If you do encounter insects and bugs that are taking over your produce and garden that you’ve worked so hard to cultivate, please look for organic varieties to keep your garden and the earth healthy and happy.

If you’re interested in this topic, let me know in the comments section so I can create a post about organic and natural bug repellents, bunny repellents, etc. to keep the wildlife away and unharmed.

Gardening Supplies You Need Before You Plant Your Vegetables

Depending on the garden you choose to grow your food in, your supplies will vary. The following lists are a great starting place for what you’ll need when starting the gardening process.

Outdoor Gardening Supplies

All of these tools are used to support digging, planting, removing weeds, organizing your beds or the garden areas, and harvesting.

  • organic soil
  • trellises for peas/vine produce
  • shovel
  • hoe
  • gloves
  • durable boots
  • hat
  • rake
  • pruning shears
  • hose, watering can, or irrigation system
  • wheelbarrow
  • harvest tote or basket
  • cultivator
  • plant food/compost
  • compost bin
  • seeds and starter plants
  • digging fork
  • spade shovel
  • wood (if making raised beds)
  • durable cloth (if making raised beds, this goes underneath the soil)

Linked to the right of this you’ll find several recommended outdoor gardening supplies, you can also find the full list here in the NS Shop.

Indoor Gardening Must-Haves

  • small planters
  • seeds or starter plants
  • organic soil
  • water source
  • small handheld shovel
  • indoor garden product, if desired

Linked to the right of this you’ll find several recommended outdoor gardening supplies, you can also find the full list here in the NS Shop.

The Easiest Vegetables To Grow

Tomatos

If growing in the ground, you’ll need a supporting structure such as a wire, string, trellis for the tomato plant to be supported by as it grows tall. Tomatoes also enjoy growing deep so it’s best to grow these in the ground or in a large, deep planter.

You’ll want to make sure, as with most plants, plant them only after your location is done with its frost season which is why it’s vital to pay attention to your zones.

Potatoes

Potatoes are so simple to grow, all you need are potatoes to start with!

You simply wash the whole potato, cut the potato in quarters, let them dry out in the sun for about a day or two, and then they’re ready to plant.

When planting in the ground which is best, you simply face the cut side down into the soil, cover, and let them grow. You can also buy starter plants for potatoes, but in our experience they were the easiest thing to grow!

Onions

Similar to potatoes, onions are very easy and quick to grow!

You can purchase onion starters or seeds, which actually look like small shallots, and plant the bulb into the soil, cover, and let them grow.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers can be purchased as a starter plant or with a seed. They’ll eventually need to be transferred into the ground or a deep planter with a wire, string, or trellis similar to tomatoes and peas because they grow up and vine.

Peas

Like cucumbers, peas love to grow and will attach their vines to anything it’s close to so it’s important to give them space and also something to latch onto like a trellis.

Peas are very easy to grow and the seeds literally look like the green peas you’re used to eating. Depending on your area peas may have a short growth cycle so enjoy them while you can!

Lettuces

Lettuces, greens, spinach, etc. grow similarly, and depending on your zone, they may last for an entire year varying from hot to cooler climates and depending on the heartiness of the lettuce.

Lettuces are very easy to grow, but potentially harder to maintain because animals especially rabbits really love lettuce! If you have an option for a greenhouse or growing lettuces indoors, this can be a great year-round option.

Herbs

Herbs are one of the easiest things to grow because they can be grown easily inside and outside. Mint for example, is not only quick to grow but it will take over many other herbs so it’s best to plant this by itself in its own planter.

Other herbs like basil need a lot of sunlight and water so they’re a little bit more high maintenance than a mint or rosemary for example. All herbs can be potted by themselves in pots or check a garden friend/foe resource to make sure which herbs play well with others.

Next Steps: How You Can Make A Positive Impact

Whenever we talk about mother nature, gardening, homesteading, and living in a more self-sustainable way, it’s important to acknowledge and learn about the native land you live on and call home. Check out this great resource to learn more about indigenous people that are native to the land you live on, how you can support them now, how to learn more, and share with your communities.

Additionally, if you aren’t able to garden or take self-sustainability acts into your own life, there are amazing resources like this one where you can learn about the local farmers in your area to support.

Making a sustainable change and impact starts with small daily actions. The work for supporting all communities that we support here at NS starts with educating ourselves first and we can all make a positive impact to take care of each other!

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