Growing Vegetables A to Z

Growing a vegetable garden can not only be economical but fun too. However, sometimes it's hard to decide what you want to grow and what to pass on. Here, A to Z, are growing tips and recommendations for the most popular vegetables to grow in a home vegetable garden.

  • 01 of 25

    Asparagus

    asparagus in the ground

    David Q. Cavagnaro / Getty Images

    Asparagus is one of the first vegetables of spring and it’s a perennial too. As with any perennial plant, it takes about 3 years to get your asparagus plants to come into their own. You’ll have to be patient and not pick any for the first year. But once they’re up and running, you’ll be enjoying fresh asparagus for years.

  • 02 of 25

    Beans

    Green Bean Harvest

    Marie Iannotti

    Beans just keep on producing. You can plant bush beans in succession every 2 to 3 weeks and have a continual harvest or just put up a couple of tepees of space-saving pole beans. And there’s so much more variety than what you can find at the grocers.

  • 03 of 25

    Beets

    beets just harvested

    LOVE_LIFE / Getty Images

    How many vegetables are totally edible? You can eat the beet greens or wait and eat the root bulb. You can even eat the extra plants you thin out of the row. All this and beets are actually a very attractive ornamental plant too.

  • 04 of 25

    Broccoli

    broccoli bunches in a basket

    DigiPub / Getty Images

    Broccoli can handle a little chill in the spring, although it won't really get going until things warm up.  Still, it's nice to have the plants nestled in and ready to sprint.  Give them plenty of room and good soil.  They'll be sending out sprouts for most of the summer.

    Continue to 5 of 25 below.
  • 05 of 25

    Brussels Sprouts

    Developing Brussels Sprouts.

    Debbie Schiel/stock.xchng

    Brussels sprouts take their time growing and then, just when you think there’s nothing left to pick in the garden, your Brussels sprouts are tinged in frost and ready to enjoy. You can start harvesting the lower sprouts earlier, but they really are sweetest after being kissed by frost.

  • 06 of 25

    Cabbage

    Heads of 'Red Drumhead' Cabbage.

    Marie Iannotti

    This plant is as decorative as it is tasty. A field of cabbages looks too good to cut. But do. Try some of the less familiar types, like the puckered savoy, the self-blanching Chinese ‘Michihli’, or the Italian heirloom ‘Nero di Toscana’ (Black Palm Tree).

  • 07 of 25

    Corn

    Ears of Sweet Corn.

    Stephanie Berghaeuser/stock.xchng

    Corn so fresh it doesn’t need to be cooked. If you haven’t experienced that, you owe it to yourself to try growing corn. Corn is pollinated by the wind, so you need enough space to plant it in blocks. But it’s quite an attractive plant, so you won’t mind making room.

  • 08 of 25

    Cucumber

    zucchini being clipped from tree

     Tomm L / Getty Images

    Cucumbers don't need a lot of encouragement to grow.  The only hard part of growing cucumbers is keeping up with the harvest.  Pick them young and they'll be less bitter and have fewer seeds.  More will follow.

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  • 09 of 25

    Eggplant

    Eggplant 'Hansel'

    National Garden Bureau, Inc.

    There’s a whole world of eggplants out there, just waiting for us to learn how to cook it well. There are stripped, mottled, green and even egg-shaped white eggplants to experiment with. Eggplant absolutely loves heat and sun and the larger fruited varieties need a long summer to yield well. But the long thin eggplants, like the Asian ‘Fengyuan’ and the AAS winners ‘Hansel’ and ‘Gretel’, are great for shorter season gardens.

  • 10 of 25

    Greens

    Close up of Italian Kale plant in garden

    Marie Iannotti

    Few vegetables require so little work and are so good for you. Most greens (and reds) do really well as late-season crops, as replacements for the fading bean and squash plants. And some are so beautiful, like ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard, they can do double duty in the flower garden. However, they’ll need some protection from groundhogs, who love them too.

  • 11 of 25

    Gourds

    Ornamental Gourds.

    Marie Iannotti

    It may seem like a sacrifice to give up space for something you can’t eat, but what would a harvest season be without a display of ornamental gourds? Gourds can easily be grown anywhere in your yard since they start being ornamental long before you harvest them.

  • 12 of 25

    Lettuce

    man walking through lettuce field
    south_agency / Getty Images

    How many vegetables can you eat fresh, without cooking? If you think all lettuce is tasteless, try a mixed blend and surprise yourself. You can succession plant lettuce all summer. When the temperature heats up, it helps to plant lettuce in the shade of taller plants, like pole beans or tomatoes. Grow the cut and come again types and you’ll never be out of lettuce.

    Continue to 13 of 25 below.
  • 13 of 25

    Okra

    okra cleaned

    Joseph De Leo / Getty Images

    Okra is associated with the South, but it grows quite well anywhere. Okra is in the hibiscus family and it has some of the most beautiful flowers you will see in a vegetable garden. The pods are known for thickening gumbo, but they'll do the same thing—deliciously—for curries, stir-fries and pasta sauces.

  • 14 of 25

    Onions

    Prize Winning Onions.

    Marie Iannotti

    What a treat, being able to go outside and dig up an onion when you need it. It takes a long season to grow onions from seed, but luckily there are transplants and sets, or onion bulbs, that speed up the process.

  • 15 of 25

    Peas

    peas shelled and out of shell in a bowl

     

    istetiana / Getty Images

    Peas have a short season, sometimes even shorter than expected. More than one pea pod has been eaten while standing in the garden. If you haven’t tried it, we recommend it heartily. Plant a lot because once you start shelling (and eating) there isn’t as much as you might expect.

  • 16 of 25

    Peppers (Hot)

    Basket of Hot Peppers.

    Marie Iannotti

    Hot peppers love abuse. Crowd them in. Forget to water them. They don’t care. They’ll just keep on producing. Even the milder hot peppers have zing when you eat them freshly picked. Be careful, they’re addictive.

    Continue to 17 of 25 below.
  • 17 of 25

    Potatoes

    Close up of harvested potatoes

    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Potatoes are a very undemanding crop. They do their thing underground for a couple of months and when they’re ready to be dug, they let you know by fading away on top. Of course, you can always do some early digging on the periphery for some new potatoes. Take a stab at growing a red, white and blue potato patch or some tender fingerlings. The best part of growing potatoes is the surprise of how much you’ll find when you dig them up.

  • 18 of 25

    Pumpkins

    Pumpkins Ready for Harvest.

    Johannes Simon/Getty Images

    Pumpkins are a fun crop. Their big, sprawling vines take up a lot of space, but you don’t need to plant many. And there are the cute little ‘Jack-Be-Little’ or ‘Baby Boo’, pie pumpkins, competitive giant pumpkins, the ‘Rouge Vif d'Etampes’ Cinderalla pumpkin and don’t forget pie pumpkins.

  • 19 of 25

    Radish

    Close up of radishes

    Radishes take so little effort, it seems silly not to plant them. They're crispy, juicy and a little more pungent fresh from the garden. Plant them in small rows, every few weeks, to keep them coming. Radishes are often interplanted with carrots and beets. They loosen the soil and mark the area while the slower germinating seeds are just getting started. Then they are harvested and gone before they get in the way.

  • 20 of 25

    Rhubarb

    Rhubarb Stalks.

    Katia Grimmer-Laversanne/stock.xchng

    Is rhubarb a vegetable? A fruit? An ornamental? However you classify it, it’s easy to grow and one of the few perennial vegetables, although in warmer climates it’s grown as an annual because it needs temperatures below 40 F. To break dormancy and stimulate bud growth. Either way, it makes a great pie!

    Continue to 21 of 25 below.
  • 21 of 25

    Spinach

    lettuce growing

    David Paul Morris / Stringer / Getty Images

    Spinach is hardy enough to plant before you’re clear of frost. If you can’t wait to get your vegetable garden started, spinach is a definite. Get a couple of plantings in before the summer heat moves in. Then you’ll have space for a warm season vegetable, like eggplant and peppers.

  • 22 of 25

    Squash (Summer)

    Patty Pan Squash.

    Marie Iannotti

    There’s more to summer squash than just zucchini. Summer squash needs no peeling and very often needs no cooking. It’s easy to grow, too. Try the wonderful single-serving squashes that you can scoop out and use as an edible bowl or a starburst pattypan squash.

  • 23 of 25

    Squash (Winter)

    Assorted Winter Squash.

    Marie Iannotti

    When those long winter days make you pine for your vegetable garden, you’ll be delighted to have a store of winter squash to remind you of warmer days. They take their time maturing, but then they keep a long time too.

  • 24 of 25

    Sweet Potatoes

    Sweet Potato Slices

    Scott Bauer/USDA Ag. Research Service

    Did you know you can also eat the leaves of sweet potatoes? Just don’t take them all, or the sweet potatoes won’t be able to finish growing. Did you know that in addition to the popular orange-fleshed sweet potatoes there are white, yellow and even purple varieties?

    Continue to 25 of 25 below.
  • 25 of 25

    Tomatoes

    High angle view of different tomato varieties

    The National Garden Bureau

    The test of a true vegetable gardener is the quest for the first ripe tomato of the season. We’ll never agree on the best tomato to grow, but with thousands to choose from, the contest is still on. If you grow nothing else, you should at least have a potted cherry tomato plant. (And some herbs.)