Starting a garden is no easy job. Serious-time and effort have to be dedicated to achieving great 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 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. They are not very popular amongst gardeners, especially newbies, despite their humble growing needs.
Now 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. 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 it will live there for years. The only downside is that you should not harvest from it the first two years of growth. This will allow it to grow a stronger root system for the coming years.
Broad beans are an underrated vegetable in the USA. They are very easy to grow from seed and mostly care-free. 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 of vegetables that fall in the same category, such as Pack Choi, Sweet Choi, Tatsoi and so on.
These Asian greens are very easy to grow. They are fast to germinate, easy to transplant, and quick to reach maturity. They will be a great choice for someone who is 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 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 just throw the seeds in the soil, cover them slightly and watch them thrive. Again, this is not a fast-growing vegetable but fairly carefree. It has no pest problem and not a major 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
When it comes to 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 then you will have a harvest. You can even go on vacation with no worries. They do take some time from planting to harvest, but in the end, it is all worthwhile, 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 just 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 among the easy vegetables to grow in a home garden. They are also prolific and can make you self-sufficient if you use the Cut-and-come-again harvest method. You may choose to start them from seed indoors, but you can also sow them directly into the soil.
Peas are fairly easy to grow if you got a trellis to support them on. 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 quite easy to grow, and every gardener should give them a try. 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 who are looking for a good experience need to grow crops that survive the harsh summer.
Basil is the easiest herb to grow in the harsh summer. It withstands the sun and can stay dry for a fair period of time. 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. There are several varieties to choose from other than the common 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 an easy fruit to grow in a home garden. It is a vining plant, so it will need some sort of 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, then it won’t set fruit because of the heat.
Choosing determinate tomatoes over indeterminate will raise your chances of getting tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes will grow faster than the indeterminate reaching the production stage sooner. They are also easier to manage with less pruning to worry about. 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, which is caused by 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 go into the soil early spring and come out late fall. Sometimes they are overwintered and come back easily the following season. They are prolific producers and take only a short break in the peak of the heat. Some very successful varieties are Chocolate, Ajvarski, Shishito, Jalapeño, and California wonder.
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 in color, and some are green, but they all turn green once cooked.