- Baby carrots
Baby carrots grown in the garden taste leaps and bounds better than anything purchased at the market. Look specifically for baby carrot varieties that grow quicker than traditional varieties. If planting in containers, choose ones at least 6 to 8 inches deep, allowing the room needed for proper growth and development.
Green leafy vegetables rank high on the list of quick growers, providing harvestable produce in a short amount of time with little effort. Sow seeds directly into well-amended garden soil or high-quality soil if using containers; harvest when leaves reach the desired size. Avoid growing spinach in the hottest part of summer because it will bolt and go to seed.
A love-it or hate-it root veggie, beets are grown for both their leafy green tops and the tender resulting beet. Grow beets when the weather is cooler for best growth. If harvesting the tops, take only one or two leaves at a time to avoid impeding root growth.
- Leaf lettuce
A garden staple for many, leaf lettuce requires little care and is ready to harvest quickly. Many varieties exist to choose from, and all grow well in containers or the ground. Plant seeds every couple of weeks when temperatures are cooler for a continuous harvest.
- Swiss chard
Swiss chard is a member of the beet family, yet it doesn’t produce root vegetables. The outer leaves of the plant are harvestable when 3 inches tall; the stems can be cooked and enjoyed as well.
- Bok choy
Bok choy isn’t normally grown in many gardens, but it is a fun and quick vegetable to grow. Baby leaves are ready to harvest in a month; full-sized heads are ready a couple of weeks following.
With its ever-growing popularity, kale is becoming a staple vegetable grown in many gardens and even windowsills. Baby greens are ready to pick when they are about 2 inches tall; avoid harvesting the central growing point of the plant to maintain continuous growth throughout the growing season.
- Mustard greens
Unlike other green leafy vegetables, mustard greens thrive in warmer temps. Mustard greens are easy to grow and can be used in salad mixes to add variety and flavor.
- Green onions
Green onions are a smart choice for anyone who wants fast-growing vegetables. The bottoms (“bulbs”) that are normally tossed in the garbage can be put in water to start new plants. (Homesteading explains step by step how to start new plants from kitchen scraps.) After roots are developed, either keep them in the water until there are leaves to cut or plant them in soil.
Another two-in-one plant, turnips are grown for both their greens and root vegetables. Turnip greens are ready for harvest when they reach 2 inches tall. Smaller turnips are milder and sweeter tasting than those that grow larger.
This perennial plant adds a peppery twist to salads and comes back in the garden year after year. Plant seeds in two-week successions as soon as the garden soil is workable in the spring for a continuous harvest.
- Garden cress
One of the fastest-growing garden plants, garden cress is ready for harvest in as little as two weeks. This space-saving plant only needs a small patch of soil to produce peppery leaves and grows well outside or indoors in containers.
Gardeners love to plant radishes for their peppery flavor and rapid growth. They grow well in either containers or soil that has been worked well. Radishes thrive in ambient temperatures between 50 and 65 degrees, making them good spring and fall crops. They can be harvested in as quickly as three weeks.
A commonly used ingredient in Asian dishes, fenugreek grows quickly in warm, summertime conditions. Fenugreek leaves are ready to harvest in about 20 days.
Planting rhubarb will give you the perfect ingredient for pies, jams and preserves. And it grows quickly! If you plant a couple of roots that are a few years old, you’ll be able to harvest in the spring. It’s an attractive plant with large, luscious leaves. Once it starts growing, you’ll have all you’ll ever need! Rhubarb is one of the first plants to provide food in the spring time. You can use rhubarb for baking, making sauce and canning.
Horseradish makes a great condiment for many meals. The plant is long with tan-colored roots and tough leaves. It’s super easy to grow, but it can become invasive in a garden. Plant it in an isolated area or in a container instead. The more you weed and water the plant, the thicker the roots will be and the easier it will be to make your own horseradish sauce.
If you don’t have a garden, don’t worry. Chives can be planted in small pots in a sunny windowsill! The harvested leaves can be snipped into small pieces and added to soft cheeses, soups, salads and other foods. They’re delicious on freshly baked potatoes. Chive leaves dehydrate quickly and easily while retaining their flavor and color. They can be rehydrated later on for use.
Asparagus is one of the easiest, most commonly grown permanent crops. It can be planted on the edge of a small garden, along a fence or among flower beds. Asparagus can be dehydrated and canned, and it makes for a healthy side dish! By planting one-year-old roots, you can usually begin harvesting in about three years. It’s an investment that will pay off with a little patience. Asparagus requires a lot of nutrients to grow, so make sure you’re taking care of your soil!
You can plant mushrooms in a corner of your garden, on an unused part of your lawn or even on the edge of your woods. Varieties such as Shiitake and Portabella require drilling holes in stumps or logs and placing plugs containing mushroom spawn inside of them. Other varieties only need to be mixed with compost or chips, sprinkled over a raked area and watered. Once you start your mushroom bed, it will last for years with little care.
A wildflower with many uses, dandelions have long been considered a weed due to its amazing ability to persist. Thanks to its deep taproot, it can be cut all the way down to the ground and will happily regrow. A wildflower with many uses, dandelions have long been considered a weed due to its amazing ability to persist. Thanks to its deep taproot, it can be cut all the way down to the ground and will happily regrow.