Grow Your Own Food: 10 Easy Vegetables and Herbs for Your Garden

Growing your own produce can be easy and cost-effective. Here are some crops to plant in your backyard garden.

Sure, it’s fun to scour the farmers’ markets or stop by the farmstand for your weekly CSA pickup—but it can get expensive to keep shelling out for fresh organic produce week after week, even though you know it’s good for you. The solution? Grow your own.

You don’t need a big yard to grow fresh and delicious food—just a small plot of soil, or, in some cases, even a windowsill will do. Here are ten of the simplest foods to grow in your own backyard garden.

Herbs. Simply buy herb plants like parsley, basil, and thyme in potted plants, and move them to a small plot of soil or a windowsill herb garden. You’ll be able to use the leaves immediately, and the plants will keep growing all summer long, providing you with fresh herbs for all your cooking. For detailed advice on growing an herb garden, check out this page.

Lettuce. You’ll be able to make all the salad you want if you plant some lettuce seed—a packet costs a mere $2, which is less than you’d pay for a single bag of greens. The plant will die when it gets too hot, so you’ll need to re-plant in fall, but it’s well worth the minimal effort for a plate of leafy greens every night. Find tips here.

Tomatoes. There’s nothing quite like fresh-picked tomatoes from the vine. Stop by a nursery to pick up a plant or two, and plant them in a sunny spot in your yard. They require a bit of care, but they’re worth it: a single cup of raw tomatoes provides more than half of your daily Vitamin C requirement, along with plenty of Vitamin A, folic acid, iron, calcium, and other good stuff.

Bell peppers. Did you know that green, red, and yellow peppers are all the same vegetable—just picked at different times? You can buy a bell pepper plant for just $1.50, then enjoy a bounty of beautiful peppers all season long. Check out this site for tips.

Cucumbers. Love pickles? If you plant cucumbers, you’ll have the chance to make tons of them. Cuke plants are notoriously prolific, so you’ll end up with more than you can eat fresh—which makes them perfect for preserving. Here are some tips on growing cucumbers and protecting your plant. After you’ve picked them, learn how to pickle.

Beets. If you’ve only had the canned stuff, you’re missing out on the beautiful flavor of beets—they deserve to be eaten straight from the soil. Beets are a cool weather crop, so wait until the weather dips down below 80 degrees to plant them, and you’ll be enjoying the purple veggies at the table this fall. For growing tips, check out this site.

Garlic. Unlike most veggies, garlic grows best in the fall, after the first frost of the season, so you’ll want to wait a while to plant it. It won’t produce shoots right away though—you’ll have to wait until the following year for the heads of garlic to pop up. This plant takes patience, but as we garlic-lovers know, it’s well worth the wait. Check out this page for more tips.

Onions. Onions grow best in the cooler season, so you’ll want to wait until fall to plant them. You can grow several different types of onions at home, including Walla Walla, Red Burgundy, and Yellow Granex, but the crop can grow in almost any type of soil. For more details, read the advice at

Brussel Sprouts. Sure, they may have been on your most-hated list in childhood, but fresh roasted Brussel Sprouts are a delicious source of nutrients. The crops can be planted in late summer or early fall, and will grow best in temperatures around 60 degrees F. Get more information here.

Peas. Peas, please! You can grow shelling, snap, sugar, and snow peas in your backyard garden. It’s a cool-weather crop, so you can plant the seats in late summer or early fall and harvest them around October, though you can also sow the seeds in early summer, depending on your climate. For some great tips, take a look at this site.

For more information on how to grow your own veggie garden, here are some great books to turn to:

The Complete Vegetable and Herb Gardener: A Guide to Growing Your Garden Organically

Grow Vegetables

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible

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