9 Vegetables That Grow Quickly

These are the fastest growing vegetables for impatient gardeners.

freshly-harvested radish bundles

  Deidre Malfatto / Stocksy

When you're starting an edible garden, it can be discouraging to wait for your homegrown bounty to be ready for harvest. Produce such as tomatoes and peppers are notorious for long growing seasons.

The solution: Plant some fast-growing vegetables to tide you over while you're waiting for the rest of your crops. If you sow a few seeds every other week, you'll have a continuous supply of fresh produce from your garden all summer long. Here are nine plants that you can start early in the growing season, then get ready to harvest your vegetables in about eight weeks.

  • 01 of 09

    Arugula ('Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa')

    arugula growing in a pot

     Harald Walker / Stocksy

    Arugula has a slightly peppery flavor that makes it delicious in a salad or as an alternative to basil pesto. Arugula is also sometimes called rocket—not because of how quickly it grows, but because the name is derived from the Italian word for the green, ruchetta.

    Sow the seeds directly in the ground, and cut the leaves when they're ready to harvest. Because its roots are relatively shallow, arugula can also be grown in container gardens.

    After planting the seeds, seedlings should emerge between 7 to 14 days. The arugula will be fully grown and ready to harvest in about three to four weeks. The earlier you harvest the leaves, the more tender and sweet the arugula will be.

    • USDA Zones: 3-11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun, part-shade
    • Soil Needs: Humus-rich, well-drained

    Tip

    If you continue to grow arugula through the summer months, try growing it in a shadier spot, so you can prevent it from going to seed too quickly. 

  • 02 of 09

    Bok Choy ('Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis')

    harvesting bok choy from a garden

     Deidre Malfatto / Stocksy

    Another quick-growing vegetable, bok choy (also known as pak choi) is a type of Chinese cabbage. There are two varieties you can grow: baby bok choy, which is less than 10 inches tall, and standard bok choy, which grows 1 to 2 feet tall.

    Plant your bok choy in partial shade for best results, though it can handle full sun. Water it consistently, as drought causes the plant to bolt. Depending on the variety that you're growing, as well as the weather, your bok choy will be ready to harvest in around 45 to 60 days.

    • USDA Zones: 2-13
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-draining
  • 03 of 09

    Broccoli Rabe ('Brassica ruvo')

    broccoli rabe growing in a garden

     Kimbra Ritchie / Getty Images

    Also called broccoli raab or rapini, rabe resembles broccoli; however, it is actually more closely related to turnips. It has a somewhat bitter taste.

    The vegetable, which grows best in full sun, will be ready to harvest in 50 to 60 days. The trick with broccoli rabe is to harvest the clusters as soon as they appear because they will open to flower fast. The leaves and stems of broccoli rabe are also edible and taste best if harvested young.

    • USDA Zones: 8 to 14
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Nutrient-rich, neutral pH
  • 04 of 09

    Cress ('Lepidium sativum')

    cress ready to be harvested

     kkgas / Stocksy

    Cress is another unique green that is popular thanks to its peppery flavor and ease of growing. It's often grown throughout the winter as a delicious year-round microgreen. It's best to grow cress in a shallow tray that's lined with wet paper towels. Sprinkle the seeds over the surface and cover the tray with plastic wrap.

    The cress will germinate within a couple of days. Harvest as soon as leaves are about 2 inches in size. You can sow successively each week for continual harvest, but if you're growing outside, you may find the peppery taste gets too strong when the weather turns hot.

    • USDA Zones: Grow indoors
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil Needs: No soil needed
    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Kale ('Brassica oleracea var. sabellica')

    a bushel of kale

    J Danielle Wehunt / Stocksy 

    Kale is one of the most cold-tolerant plants on this list of fast-growing vegetables. In some gardening zones it can be grown almost year-round. Spring-planted kale often takes a little bit longer to mature than kale grown in the late summer or early fall.

    Kale is easy to start directly outdoors, but it needs plenty of water, as drought will make it bitter. Harvest leaves from the outside of the bunch when they're large enough to eat, and continue to let the plant produce for several weeks. 

    • USDA Zones: 7-9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy
  • 06 of 09

    Mustard Greens ('Brassica juncea')

    mustard greens being harvested

     Sara Remington / Stocksy

    Mustard greens also has to be kept well-watered, as it will turn unpleasantly bitter if allowed to dry out. Although it's not as cold-hardy as kale, it can tolerate a light frost.

    Like lettuces and other greens, mustard greens are sensitive to heat and does best in early spring and after mid-summer, or when given some shade during the hottest times of the year. Harvest the mustard greens when the leaves are large enough to eat.

    • USDA Zones: 1-7
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Sandy, clay, well-drained, moist
  • 07 of 09

    Radishes ('Raphanus sativus')

    freshly-harvested radishes

     Deidre Malfatto / Stocksy

    Truly one of the fastest-growing vegetables to tuck into your garden, radishes are a must-try. They are perfect for kids' gardens because of how quickly they grow. They can be harvested as quickly as three weeks after planting. Try planting heirloom radishes ​for unique colors, shapes, and flavors. 

    Thin seedlings once they've sprouted so the roots can grow without constraint. Don't bother trying to start radishes indoors either––just sprinkle the seeds outdoors where you want them.

    • USDA Zones: 2-10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, sandy
  • 08 of 09

    Turnips ('Brassica rapa subsp. rapa')

    turnips on display at a farm market

    Sean Locke / Stocksy 

    Turnips are an old-fashioned vegetable that provides a great harvest for the home gardener. Both the leaves and the roots can be eaten, although not every variety excels at both simultaneously.

    Turnips are one of the least fussy plants on this list when it comes to temperature conditions, and can be planted through the entire growing season in many gardening zones. Pick roots when they are tender––at around 2–3 inches in circumference––and harvest leaves when they are young.

    • USDA Zones: 2-9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, sandy, slightly acidic to neutral
    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Spinach ('Spinacia oleracea')

    Home grown spinach
    Home grown spinach. Photo courtesy of OakleyOriginals

    Spinach is a nutritious vegetable that grows quickly in cool weather. Plant it in full sun or partial shade, and it will be ready to harvest within four to six weeks.

    Spinach can be harvested multiple times in the "cut and come again" method. Cut the individual older leaves and let the younger inner leaves continue to grow for a later harvest. If you cut the leaves at about an inch above the base, the plant may send out a new batch of leaves for you to harvest at a later date.

    • USDA Zones: 2-9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, neutral