Starting a garden is no easy job. Serious time and effort have to be dedicated to achieving outstanding results. The right approach to vegetable gardening is to plan it well, start small, and grow what works in your area with the least trouble. Here is a list of the top easy crops to grow for new gardeners.
In central Texas, the cool season is the best growing time. If you want to start a garden, it is best to start it this year than in the spring. The mild winters make it easy to do heavy jobs and do not require a lot of watering. When it comes to the crops to grow, most of them are very easy to grow.
Artichokes & Cardoons
Artichokes and Cardoons are from the thistle family. Unfortunately, they are not very popular amongst gardeners, especially newbies, despite their humble growing needs.
When I say they are easy to grow, that does not mean they are fast. Artichokes and cardoons are perennial plants in central Texas. You plant them in early fall to grow all winter for the early spring harvest. The ease comes in the care they require, and that is none.
Once you plant your artichokes or cardoons, they will survive in that spot for years. In addition, they will send out new shoots every new season, making them budget-friendly also. Read more about growing them here.
Asparagus is another easy vegetable to grow. It only needs one dedicated spot and will live there for years. The only downside is that you should not harvest from it during the first two years of growth. This will allow it to grow a more robust root system in the coming years.
Broad beans are an underrated vegetable in the USA. They are easy to grow from seed and mostly carefree. They only need some support system to prevent them from tipping over in strong winds.
Their sweet-scented flowers attract bees in late winter and early spring. They also withstand frost and some freeze. Broad beans are not only nutritious for humans; they also feed the soil if you use them as green manure. Here is how to grow broad beans in a home garden.
When we say Chinese cabbage, Napa cabbage comes to mind. But the truth is that Chinese cabbage is a group of vegetables that fall in the same category, such as Pack Choi, Sweet Choi, Tatsoi, etc.
These Asian greens are straightforward to grow. They are fast to germinate, easy to transplant, and quick to reach maturity. So they will be an excellent choice for someone starting a garden. The only issue you might meet with them is the cabbage looper caterpillar. And the easiest way to deal with it is to use a mesh cover on your plants. Learn more on how to grow Chinese cabbage here.
Fennel is very easy to grow in the home garden. You throw the seeds in the soil, cover them slightly and watch them thrive. Again, this is not a fast-growing vegetable but is relatively carefree. It has no pest problem and is not a significant disease.
Leave the plant to flower, and the butterflies will be all over it as well as the bees. It is home to swallowtail caterpillars and monarchs too. Once the flowers are pollinated, leave the seed head to dry and harvest the seeds.
Garlic and onions
Regarding vegetable gardening, a few people think of garlic and onions. They are the easiest to grow with almost no care. Plant them in the fall and leave them alone. They will do their thing all winter and spring, and you will have a harvest. You can even go on vacation with no worries. They do take some time from planting to harvest, but it is all worthwhile in the end, especially when you spend no extra effort.
Herbs are also easy to add to a vegetable garden. Some of them are perennial such as oregano and thyme. Other are annual such as parsley, cilantro, and celery. (If you consider celery an herb, that is)
Many herbs do well in central Texas, such as rosemary, lavender, sage, tarragon, and Mexican marigold. You need to baby them during the first year of planting, then let them be.
Leaf lettuce and leafy greens
Leaf lettuce and leafy greens are easy vegetables to grow in a home garden. They are also prolific and can make you self-sufficient using the Cut-and-come-again harvest method. You may start them from seed indoors, but you can also sow them directly into the soil.
Peas are reasonably easy to grow if you have a trellis to support them. You may start them indoors in root trainers or sow them directly into the ground. They tend to stall a bit in the first stages of growth, but then they take off after the winter solstice.
Potatoes are easy to grow, and every gardener should try them. It is best to start with small size varieties for a great harvest. Potatoes are cool-season and warm-season crops in Texas. The main crop is planted in mid-winter for early summer harvest. Then the second crop is planted in August for late fall harvest. Here is a detailed guide on how to grow potatoes.
The warm season is the hardest and the longest in central Texas. Watering becomes an issue unless you install an automated drip system. New gardeners looking for a good experience need to grow crops that survive the harsh summer.
Basil is the most accessible herb to grow in the harsh summer. It withstands the sun and can stay dry for a reasonable period. It is also easy to recover in case of damage. Even better, the more you harvest, the bushier it gets.
You can grow basil from seedlings or seeds. Several varieties are other than the typical Italian basil, such as Thai, purple, and lemon basil.
It might be surprising to have cantaloupe on the list of easy-to-grow crops for new gardeners. Indeed, it is an easy fruit to grow in a home garden. However, it is a vining plant, so that it will need some support. Otherwise, it will crawl on the ground.
Despite their popularity, tomatoes are not the easiest to grow in a Texas garden. If you plant them too early, you risk losing them to spring frost. If you plant them too late, they won’t set fruit because of the heat.
Choosing determinate tomatoes over indeterminate will raise your chances of getting tomatoes since they grow faster than the indeterminate reaching the production stage sooner. They are also easier to manage with little pruning. Just make sure to get varieties that are less prone to diseases.
Eggplants are among the easy crops to grow for new gardeners. It thrives in the hot summer and does not stop producing. One problem you may encounter with eggplant is some holes in the foliage. That is caused by insects, but it does not seem to bother production. Another problem is the bitterness of the fruits due to irregular watering. Make sure to water regularly to avoid any stresses on the plant.
Peppers should be the rock stars of the home garden. They enter the soil in early spring and come out in late fall. Sometimes they are overwintered and come back quickly the following season. They are prolific producers and take only a short break during the peak of the heat. Chocolate, Ajvarski, Shishito, Jalapeño, and California wonder are some very successful varieties.
Another Asian vegetable that grows very well in central Texas is Yard-long beans or Noodle beans. They are quick to grow and prolific producers all through the season. Some yard beans are purple, and some are green, but they all turn green once cooked.