I recently discovered that most lists of the easiest vegetables to grow are actually just copies of the most popular vegetables to grow. Which would be fine except things like tomatoes, cabbage, and carrots are on all those lists and are, in fact, not easy to grow! They’re very manageable plants but in no world are those the easiest veggies to get started with.

So today I want to share with you the actual easiest to grow plants I’ve cultivated in the garden that meet all those criteria. It won’t be an exhaustive list because I’m still learning a lot every year but it should give you a good start. Some will be familiar, a couple might not be but they are all very, very hardy.

The list includes fruiting plants, herbs, leafy greens, and some legumes because I think it’s also important to have a fun garden even if you’re just getting started or focusing on the foolproof plants for a season.

Leafy Greens

It’s March as I write this and 90% of our garden is leafy greens at the moment so that’s where I wanted to start off. And I can very, very easily say the easiest green I’ve grown is…


Specifically the standard, green mizuna variety.

This stuff is bulletproof. Pests hate it, it germinates like mad, it grows insanely fast, it grows big, you can just keep picking bunches off and it will grow back. It’s like the quintessential easy plant. Especially this standard one. It’s a little less pretty than the red and purple ones but grows bigger and faster.

My biggest tip is to keep it well watered, this plant doesn’t like to dry out.

Fair warning, mizuna is a mustard green and it’s got a nice kick to it. If you like mellower greens, you’ll need to saute them or look elsewhere.

Heads up! If you’d rather sit back and watch instead of read, we took a look at the same list of easy-to-grow veggies in this video as well =)


There is also good old fashioned tatsoi and I like to think of it as a spinach alternative. It’s got some of that spinach earthiness I love but it’s much easier to grow because it shrugs off pest damage and doesn’t care about fluctuating weather as much as tatsoi.

If you like bok choy, tatsoi is a close relative.

My biggest tip for tatsoi is to make sure you grow it in loose soil. It doesn’t do well in compacted soil. The seedlings will basically just hit the compacted dirt under the compost mulch and stop growing, remaining small.

I’ve grown well over thirty varieties of greens in the last year alone and mizuna and tatsoi are the easiest. I love ‘em.

And I think they’re a good example of something important to keep in mind: it’s not always the most familiar plants that are the easiest to grow. There are a lot of historical and cultural reasons certain plants and varieties have become mainstays and it’s so important to look beyond them for success. In my opinion, Asian greens are generally easier to grow on the whole than kale, lettuce, spinach, and arugula. And I love all those.


So herbs in general are pretty hardy plants. But as I was running through the list of herbs I’m experienced with I realized I didn’t feel good about calling the vast majority of them easy. Calling them easy feels kind of disingenuous.

The so called wet herbs like dill and parsley and cilantro need warmth, but go to flower so, so easily. They’re really hard to grow here in the summer. Thyme, oregano, rosemary, and mint are beyond easy when they’re established but can be very slow to get to that point, especially from seed.

Lemon balm always had a fungal issue for me. I actually lost all of mine and need to regrow it in the spring. Lavender is amazing and a runner up but can be hard to germinate.

But there are two that I find genuinely super easy to grow:


First off, Basil is great because you can plant it super dense and it does better if you are harvesting the heck out of it. It basically just needs lots of water and if you’re growing it in mid summer it will need some shade relief. I like basil because you don’t really have to think about it. Just grow a lot of plants in close proximity and pick often. I think basil can get a bad rap because people often buy seedlings from the grocery store that aren’t acclimated to life outside a greenhouse, but grown from seed it’s a very easy plant you don’t have to baby.


Mexican Mint Marigold

The other herb I’ve found pretty foolproof is a more recent addition to my garden called mexican mint marigold. It’s not a very common herb but it’s gaining in popularity as a replacement for tarragon which can be a very finicky plant. Mexican mint marigold is more shrubby, it’s perennial which means it will live through winter and is used to growing in hot areas with poor soil - making it much tougher. I’ve found it to be easy to germinate, easy to transplant, and because it has a strong flavor you only need a bit of it. It’s also got very nice flowers as a bonus.

So if you like a licorice and anise flavor for some of your dishes, this is one to give a try. I personally like to blend it with oregano, lavender buds, rosemary, thyme, and summer savory for a nice herb rub or try a green salad with mexican mint marigold vinaigrette.

Nitrogen Fixing Legumes

In my mind, sugar snap peas and bush beans are probably the ultimate easy crop and I don’t say that lightly so let me explain.

First off, they produce a big, satisfying crop that you can actually snack on. I love leafy greens but they are not as satisfying as fruiting crops like tomatoes and eggplants. Peas fill that gap in Spring and Fall.

They also both do great in either the ground or in containers. And honestly, in any type of container. They’re super unfussy.

And finally, because they both form a symbiotic bond with nitrogen fixing bacteria, they are both capable of thriving in relatively infertile soil that wouldn’t support tomatoes and eggplants. In the beginning, and for anyone really, it can be hard to dial in your soil nutrients so that ability is really nice to be able to fall back on.

Bush Beans

My favorite bush bean is probably the variety called provider. It is hardy and also produces a ton of food which makes it really satisfying for beginners. And because it’s a bush bean you don’t have to trellis or support it, just plant, water, and harvest.


Sugar Snap Peas

For peas, I recommend trying the sugar ann snap pea. Snap peas are a hybrid of the traditional english shelling peas which we don’t grow because I don’t like dealing with the shelling, and snow peas, which I also love and grow a ton of. But sugar snap peas are probably a little more beginner friendly since as hybrids they are hardy and the pods are big and sweet.

If you grow a variety like sugar ann, they produce really fast so they are easy to grow in the fall or spring. Plus they’re shorter plants that don’t need a trellis so logistically they’re super simple, just plant and water.

Another cool thing with peas is that you can plant them really densely so even if you’re just getting started with a small garden space or a few containers, you can grow a satisfying number of pea plants.

Fruiting Plants

Fruiting vegetables like eggplants are just simply not as straightforward to grow as the plants I’ve talked about so far. Don’t get me wrong, even if it’s your first year gardening, anyone can grow them and they’re so satisfying, but they’re not truly easy.

Still there’s something melancholy about a summer garden without any of those showstoppers, those garden standouts in the nightshade and gourd families.

So I’ve picked two that are really surprisingly simple. They each just have a caveat or two.

The first would be a variety of small, hot chillies planted in a fabric grow bag. I know that’s kind of specific, but that combination has proven to be outrageously easy to grow in my experience. The hot peppers tend to suffer from fewer pest and disease issues and a variety like super thai produces so many that you only need to grow a few plants to get a lot, like hundreds. That’s really satisfying as a new gardener. And grow bags help take the guesswork out of proper watering, which is one of the only gotchas with these peppers so it’s a winning combination.

I can’t really recommend the super thai plants enough. Pest resistant, disease resistant, tasty and very spicy, and just comically productive.

Another variety that would fit this mold is the aji lemon drop peppers.


All right next up, remember how I said zucchinis are tough because of insects? I hope you’ll forgive me for being a little hypocritical here because I’m going to say that zucchinis are the final really easy beginner plant to grow. The trick is growing a variety that matures quickly and planting after the squash vine borer bugs have gone dormant. That date differs by area but a quick google search should give you an idea.

If we take the vine borers out of the picture, a variety of zucchini plants like cocozelle that produce in under two months, are unbelievably easy, and will produce so much food. A healthy zucchini plant will churn out so much food you’ll need to learn how to preserve it and try new recipes. And a lot of times those later season zucchinis are even more productive because they don’t have to deal with the hottest part of summer. I’ve been growing cocozelle zucchini for a few years and they’re a great option. Full transparency though, I’m also going to try the green machine variety because it takes even less time to reach harvest.


Bonus: Flowers

If you, like us, enjoy adding some color to your veggie garden, I want to suggest a dead simple flower too.

Cosmos. Look, I am not a flower expert, far from it, but wow these things are nuts. They are always the best germinating seeds in our flower beds and they’ll grow and flower even when it’s chilly- they flower in November. After they flower, be prepared to see them again all the time because they will drop those seeds and come back with a vengeance. Oh and they get huge with decent soil and lots of sunlight. We had many over 6 feet!


We hope you got some good ideas for some fun, easy plants to start your garden hobby off on the right foot. Happy gardening!