Growing vegetables can be an incredibly rewarding experience, as can putting healthy, organic, sustainable food on your table produced by your own two hands. But it can be a bit daunting knowing where to start. The rule of thumb for first-time gardeners is to stick to low-maintenance, easy vegetables, and we're here to help you figure out which ones those are!
From potatoes to parsnips, beans to beetroot, we've put together a list of the ten easiest vegetables to grow in the UK. Whether you're growing at home in pots on a balcony, indoors, or in a plot in the garden, this guide will help you choose which plants are most suitable for your situation and how to choose the right seeds to get you going. Ready, set, grow!
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Unfortunately, growing vegetables isn't as simple as plonking a few random seeds in the ground and waiting for food to appear. If you want to be successful in your efforts, there's a little more planning involved.
Growing veggies can be tricky business, especially if you're new to the game. Depending on your location, sunlight exposure and time restrictions, your list of easy to grow vegetables might be different from someone else's. This section will discuss how to choose the varieties that will flourish for you.
The first thing to consider when choosing vegetables is your growing location. Balconies, garden plots, greenhouses and windowsills all offer different conditions for growing, and some vegetables will be more suited to one type of area.
Gardens and allotments are every veg-growers' dream location. If you're planning on cornering off a slice of your lawn for growing, choose vegetables you can sow directly into the ground. The other option you have is to build raised beds. These essentially work as large containers where you can easily control the soil conditions, although they require a little more work to set up.
That said, a lot of veg that can be grown in gardens can also handle containers on balconies. Just make sure that the container is around 10-12" deep so the plant has space to grow and expand its roots. Vertically-growing vegetables such as beans will also require a trellis or poles to climb, so consider this if you have limited space.
Each vegetable needs specific sunlight exposure for optimum growth. For instance, tomatoes require 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. So, if you're growing in a shady garden or a balcony that doesn't catch much sun, tomatoes are probably not your best choice.
But if your location doesn't get much sunlight, don't assume that you can't grow any veggies at all. There are many vegetable varieties such as kale, beetroot, chard, and carrots that can easily grow in shady places with hardly any direct sunlight.
There are a couple of veg varieties that can grow outside all year round, such as kale, broccoli, turnips and cabbage, but this isn't the norm.
For the majority, you'll need to check the ideal time for the vegetable to be sown, especially if you're keen to get planting right away. For instance, courgettes are best sown between the end of spring and the beginning of summer, whereas you should plant onions between mid-March and mid-April.
Most seed packets will arrive with instructions detailing when and how to best plant the seeds for optimum growth, but doing a little research beforehand on the type of vegetable you're planning to grow can save you a lot of time in the long run.
Vegetable growing takes time. Yes, it does vary from veg to veg, but nothing happens overnight! Make sure you have the time commitment to see your chosen veg through from sowing to maturity to harvest.
Some plants, such as salad leaves, are quick to mature, taking only around 21 days until they are ready to harvest, but others, such as cauliflower, take a hefty 40-50 weeks.
During the growing process, you need to maintain the soil, the temperature and the ideal growing conditions, so we recommend choosing vegetables with a shorter lifespan while you're starting out.
Now that you've chosen the vegetables you want to grow, you next need to buy the seeds. Seeds are usually split into two categories – heritage and modern. In this section, we'll go through the differences between each.
Heritage seeds are essentially breeds of seed that have been grown unchanged for years. The main argument for buying heritage over modern is that the seeds produce richer, fuller-tasting vegetables, although that detail is up for debate.
Another reason to buy heritage seeds is that they are often more suited to a home gardener than a commercial grower. These seeds tend to ripen little by little over a long time so that you can keep plucking away at your harvest with a constant, small supply.
While it's easy to get drawn in by the shiny, almost regal term 'heritage', that doesn't always lead to a better-tasting crop, and modern seeds are nothing to be sniffed at.
Modern growers and botanists have bred seeds and vegetables specifically to improve characteristics such as taste, yield and resistance to diseases. This means they're often a more reliable choice than heritage seeds.
Modern seeds also tend to produce a higher yield for one big harvest rather than drip-feeding you the odd veg to pluck, so make sure you factor this in. You don't want to be left overburdened with tomatoes that go bad before you can get around to using them all!
The final point to concern yourself with is the number of seeds per packet. One seed generally produces one plant, but it's always good practice to assume that not all seeds will germinate for one reason or another.
Seed packets often contain a minimum of 20 seeds, but some are upwards of 50 to 100. Ensure that you have enough seeds to sustain your plans but don't be tempted to go overboard. Seeds, too, have an expiration date, and if not stored correctly, this will become even shorter.
Click to purchase
Contained Garden Rocket｜Wild Grazia
Peppery Rocket That Keeps on Coming
Radish Seeds｜French Breakfast
Grow Crunchy Radishes in Just a Few Weeks
Maintenance-Free Growing With Onion Sets
Easy to Grow Tomatoes for Any Level of Skill
Thompson & Morgan
Hot Chilli & Sweet Peppers Grow Kit
A One-Box Growing Kit for Chilli Lovers
The Root Vegetable With an Excellent Success Rate
Premium Scottish Seed Potatoes｜Maris Piper
Scottish Seed Potatoes You Can Grow in a Bag
Pea Seeds ｜Kelvedon Wonder
Flower-Coated Pea Plants With a Prolonged Harvest
Thompson & Morgan
Broad Bean Seeds｜Robin Hood
Easy-to-Grow Broad Beans Complete With Instructions
Premier Seeds Direct
Courgette Ambassador Finest Seeds｜F1-25
The Modern Courgettes Resistant to Viruses
Salad leaves like rocket and oak leaf lettuce are excellent ones to begin with, as they grow well both in the ground and in pots. There are plenty of varieties to choose from and can be harvested just three weeks later, so they don't require too much tending. They also keep growing, so you can reap the benefits time and time again.
Our choice of rocket is from the well-known brand Mr. Fothergill's. It is an easy-to-grow variety, full of flavour with a slightly peppery taste. The packet comes with clear instructions on how to seed, with 500 seeds per pack – that should be more than enough for home use.
Radishes are another simple grower, and they make delicious crunchy additions to salads. They can be sown directly into the ground or grown in small containers, making them suitable for a wide variety of first-time gardeners. The seeds themselves are pretty large, making them easy to handle, and they can be ready to harvest in just a couple of weeks.
We've chosen the French Breakfast variety from De Ree. The seeds come in packs of around 270, which is plenty, but not too much, and they come with great instructions for successful germination. The reviews for this brand are incredible, with nearly every person having a successful experience of producing big, colourful veg!
Onions are another one that's not often thought of as a beginner veg, but they are virtually maintenance-free, making them perfect for newbies. Simply plant the bulbs into well-drained soil and leave them to do their thing! You can grow them from seeds, but it's much easier to grow them from baby onions, called sets.
There are many varieties to choose from, but why not start with the basics that we all use in the kitchen – yellow onions? This choice from Bolly Bulbs gives you 25 sets which is more than enough, and the reviews testify that they consistently produce a decent yield. Plant them in spring, ready for summer.
Tomatoes are always a go-to for any gardener, experienced or beginner. They're also perfect for kids to try because they're so easy and quick to produce fruit. Bushy varieties such as Romello are particularly good because they can be grown in small window boxes and don't require any pruning or maintenance apart from the occasional drink.
The packets from Own Grown are an excellent option as they come with a variety of bush seeds so that you'll never get bored. There's enough there for around 50 plants which should last you a good while, and Own Grown include precise, detailed instructions on the packet so there should be no chance of anything going wrong!
If you happen to eat lots of spicy food, chillies might be the best ones for you. They are incredibly easy to grow, requiring just a tiny space on a sunny windowsill or pot outside. Just like tomatoes, you can pretty much leave them to grow whilst plucking the occasional chilli when it's ready.
We've gone for the Thompson & Morgan Hot Chilli and Sweet Peppers Grow Kit. The kit contains a bunch of chilli and pepper seeds, complete with pots, plant markers, compost plugs and garden snips. This makes them excellent for those who haven't yet purchased all the goods that gardening requires!
After a root veg that's super easy to grow? Give beetroot a try. They do require a little work, spacing out the seedlings once they begin to pop through, but it's so worth it to pull up the gorgeous, deep purples to slice up in a salad or roast in the oven. Best of all, they're ready to harvest in just under 2 months.
We've gone for the Boltardy variety from trusty Mr. Fothergill's. They're resistant, delicious, and have an excellent success rate from their customers. The seeds have an even all-round colour and texture and are incredibly evenly shaped, which means the overall quality should be top-notch.
Many people don't consider planting potatoes as a beginner, but they are actually an excellent choice. Potatoes can be grown in the ground, but they can also be grown in a bin or a potato sack which can sit just about anywhere! They do, however, require a bit of patience as they take 10-20 weeks to be ready for harvest.
These seed potatoes from Jamieson Brothers have excellent reviews and an outstanding success rate from home gardeners. You get about 20-25 per pack to start you off along with easy-to-follow instructions. Plus, Maris Pipers are one of the UK's favourites – perfect for enticing guests over to try your home-grown produce!
Peas are another easy grower, especially when you pick a small, compact variety like 'Half Pint Peas'. They can be grown outside or in a container and can even grow flowers to make your patio look even prettier! You do often need something to support the stems as they grow, so bear that in mind whilst planning out your space.
Mr. Fothergill's seeds are an excellent choice for peas. They produce dwarf plants, which don't occupy too much space, and they have a prolonged harvest so you can keep enjoying fresh peas for months. These are also suitable for late sowing, so no worries if you get a little behind on planting your veg!
Beans are one of those versatile vegetables that go with almost anything, so they are a great addition to a newbie veg patch! Broad beans can be planted in small pots, then taken outside to either a balcony or a garden to continue to flourish. They do take quite a while to bear fruit, though, so a little patience is needed with this one.
Thompson & Morgan produce packs of 35 Robin Hood Broad Bean seeds, which might not sound like a lot, but each plant can produce a serious amount of veg. They also provide ample advice on how to grow their beans based on whether you've got a garden or just a few pots, as well as advising on germination times and what you can expect throughout the process.
Courgettes are renowned for being one of the easiest vegetables to grow from seeds because they produce an abundance of veg from just a couple of plants. These Ambassador courgette seeds are a great buy in particular as the variation is ideal for growing in small spaces, plus it's resistant to certain common viruses.
However, they need direct sunlight and regular watering, so ensure that you can provide it with the sun exposure required. The seeds also come in minimal, zip-lock packaging with no instructions other than those on the website, so it's recommended to do a bit of research before planting.
With your seeds ordered and on their way, it's a good idea to turn your attention to any other gardening tools you might need to successfully plant and grow your vegetables. We've selected three articles from our archives to help newer gardeners find the essentials.
We hope that you've found this article useful and that it's inspired you to get your gardening gloves on and grow your own produce. With just a little patience and a bit of maintenance, you and your family could be eating out of your garden (or patio!) in no time.
Author: Roxy Pratley
No. 1: Mr. Fothergill's｜Contained Garden Rocket｜Wild Grazia
No. 2: De Ree｜Radish Seeds｜French Breakfast
No. 3: Bolly Bulbs｜Planting Onions｜Stuttgarter
No. 4: Own Grown｜Tomato Seeds｜Roma
No. 5: Thompson & Morgan｜Hot Chilli & Sweet Peppers Grow Kit
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