There's nothing quite like growing - and eating - your own fruit and vegetables. Watching the development of your favorite foods from seed to plate is seriously rewarding, and they always taste better, too. But where should you start?
Picking fruit and veg from your own backyard and enjoying the fruits of your labor (quite literally) cannot be beaten. Most of us have hazy memories of picking tomatoes in our grandparent's garden or watching our dad harvest carrots from the allotment. If you're keen to do the same, there are plenty of plants suitable to get you started, no matter how green-thumbed you are or the space you have available.
With the help of some expert gardeners, we've listed the 6 best options below for a beginner-friendly organic kitchen garden. Better still, all of them can be planted right now for tasty veggies in just a few months' time.
If you're looking for ideas for a modern vegetable garden that's easy to maintain, beets are an excellent place to start. They're tolerant of cooler temperatures so they're safe to plant now even if there's still a risk of frost where you live, and they'll be ready to harvest in just a few months.
'Beets are hardy vegetables that can thrive in various soil types and tolerate different growing conditions, including cooler temperatures,' says Reese. 'They're low-maintenance and can grow independently, producing striking red stems and deep green leaves with red veins that add color and texture to a garden bed.'
In fact, beets are one of the vegetables you can grow indoors all year, making them wonderful to know about.
These beet seeds from Burpee Organics, available at Walmart, are a great option for beginner gardeners. The Early Wonder variety is a heritage favorite. A smooth, sweet beet with tasty tops that can be harvested as greens, they're perfect for roasting, boiling or even pickling.
For anyone who hasn't grown their own greens before, salad leaves are super easy and accessible. Lettuce is one of the best options for vegetable container gardening as the leaves barely take up any space. 'It's a fast-growing plant that's easy to care for as long as the soil is kept consistently moist and cool,' notes Reese. 'They come in various colors and textures, from deep greens to bright reds, and have soft, delicate leaves that add texture and interest to a garden.'
One of the advantages of lettuce is its fast-growing time. As Diana notes, 'this cool-weather crop is easy to grow from seed and can be harvested in as little as 30 days'.
Another super simple way to get started on a kitchen garden is with herbs. From cilantro and mint to oregano and parsley, there are plenty of herbs that are easy to grow and maintain, and they make tasty fresh ingredients in your cooking, too.
A great starter herb for beginners is chives - ideal for an indoor vegetable garden. 'This easy-to-grow herb produces delicate purple flowers and has a mild onion flavor that's perfect for adding to salads or garnishing dishes,' Diana says. 'To plant it, choose a sunny or partly shaded spot with well-draining soil, and water regularly. '
Alternatively, Reese recommends dill. 'Dill is a fragrant herb that's easy to grow from seed and relatively hardy, tolerating varying soil types and amounts of sunlight,' he explains. And it's not just that dill plant care is easy, it looks good too. 'Its soft, feathery foliage and pretty yellow flowers add texture and interest to any garden bed,' Reese adds.
This pack of assorted live aromatic and edible herbs from Amazon contains rosemary, sage, lavender, and lemon balm. You'll receive six herbs, all of which are a great start for the beginner gardener, and the potted plants are suitable to add to your garden straight away.
Onions are a staple ingredient in a multitude of meals, so why not grow your own? 'They're an excellent choice for beginner gardeners as they are low-maintenance and can tolerate various growing conditions,' says Reese. 'They have tall, spiky leaves that add architectural interest to a garden bed and are easy to grow from seeds or bulbs.'
The easiest way to grow these root vegetables is from onion sets which are essentially small bulbs sold in garden centers and hardware stores. They're perfect for raised beds, where the plants should be spaced six inches apart in a row, ideal for your small vegetable garden.
'These sun-loving vegetables are a great choice for beginner gardeners as they're easy to grow from seed or starter plants, and they produce an abundant harvest,' notes Diana. 'To plant them, choose a spot with at least six hours of sunlight, and provide them with support as they grow. Be sure to water them regularly and fertilize once a month.'
The sweet and juicy crop will be ready later in the summer, just in time for your seasonal salads. They're super easy to grow in containers too, making them suitable for virtually any space, be it a large lawn or a narrow balcony. Read our 8-step guide on how to grow tomatoes in containers to find out more about how to care for them.
For anyone with limited outdoor space, these sweet cherry tomatoes are perfect. Available in a pack of 30 seeds from Burpee, this dwarf plant pumps out a huge and ongoing harvest despite only being about a foot high and wide. Perfect for your sunny deck, balcony, patio, or even the windowsill!
Last on the list is zucchini. This versatile veggie is delicious roasted or raw in salads, and it can even be used in baking too when grated into a cake mix to keep it moist. It's a warm season crop, so won't be suitable for northern hardiness zones just yet, but you could start the seeds indoors or in a greenhouse if you want to get a head start.
'These fast-growing vegetables are a great choice for small gardens,' says Diana. 'To plant them, simply choose a sunny spot with well-draining soil.' You'll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor (quite literally) in just 45-55 days' time.
One of the most versatile veggies out there, zucchinis are a great option for beginner gardeners. The Black Beauty Zucchini is a staple summer squash that produces dark straight fruits about 8" long that grow on upright plants. They make for delicious eating too, whether baked, fried, or roasted!
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Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.
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