These Are the 13 Easiest Herbs, Fruits, and Vegetables to Grow

Looking to get into gardening? It's not without its challenges, but may as well start with plants that give you the best chance of success.

Growing your own food brings a host of benefits, and you don't need to plant half your backyard to reap them. Consider starting with just an herb plant or two, a bed of seeds, or a few young tomato seedlings.

What are those benefits? Growing food is soothing, nutritional, and educational. Essentially, it brings you closer to the earth while making dinner taste a little better.

All you need is a yard, patio, or access to a community garden. Once your seeds or seedlings are planted, they need only sunlight, water, time, and a little weed control—use a natural weed killer like Preen's. Starting a vegetable garden with these plants puts you on the easiest path to home-grown herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Let's get growing.


Next time your recipe calls for a sprig of mint as a garnish, a stem of rosemary, or fresh basil leaves, imagine walking outside with a pair of snippers instead of driving to the grocery store. It doesn't get fresher than that! Herbs are easy to grow, don't require much real estate, and add freshness and flavor to your kitchen creations.

If feasible, plants herbs near the kitchen for easy access, or consider growing some indoors. Start with these easy-to-grow and culinarily versatile herbs.


Mint - Growing Mint in the Herb Garden
Mint - Growing Mint in the Herb Garden. Photo courtesy Daniel Battiston / stock.xchng

Mint is so easy to grow, it can become a bit of a problem. Its prolific nature drives it to take over the beds of neighboring plants. To prevent mint from spreading into unwanted areas, confine your plantings to a pot or other isolated area.

You only need one or two plants to start. In time, they'll likely spread through the pot from rim to rim, flavoring breezes with their scent. Take advantage of their aroma and bug-repelling prowess with plantings near seating areas or walkways.


small rosemary plant growing outdoors in terra cotta plant pot

Kirill Rudenko/Getty Images

If you have a hot, dry, sunny place where you can't get anything else to grow, try rosemary because that's just how this plant likes it. Actually an evergreen shrub, this fragrant herb comes back year after year (although it may need to overwinter indoors in colder climates) and can grow up to 6 feet tall.

Growing rosemary from seed is challenging, so start with just a seedling or two from the garden center. Like mint, it grows readily, spreads quickly, and smells divine, so planted near seating or as an aromatic hedge is ideal.


Basil. Photo courtesy of Untrained Housewife

A staple in Mediterranean cuisine and a mainstay of pesto, basil is a great herb to have in your backyard. Growing your own gives you access to a host of different varieties—like cinnamon, lemon, licorice, and lime basil—and colors that range from bright green to shades of pink, red, and purple.

Basil plants improve the flavor of other plants nearby and, since they thrive under the same growing conditions as tomato plants, the pair makes especially good growing companions. Whether planting seeds or transplanting seedlings from the garden center, wait until your area is frost-free and make sure each plant gets at least 6 hours of sun.


We consider these fruits easy to grow and, as a bonus, they come back year after year without replanting. While gardening expertise is not needed, patience is, because these fruits (and most others) take a season or two for the plants to come into their own and flourish.


overhead view of black plastic garden pot filled with soil and strawberry seedlings. a white person's hand holds a seedling with white and yellow flowers growing from it

Geri Lavrov/Getty Images

Strawberries are a versatile plant you can grow in pots, hanging baskets, or in the ground, as long as they get at least 6 hours of sun. They're also versatile in the kitchen—as well as nutritious and delicious—and store easily.

Wherever you plant them, make sure each plant's roots have plenty of room to spread out. Many strawberry varieties produce runners, tips that spread out and root themselves nearby to become new plants. You can snip these runners so the plant's energy focuses on bigger fruit or leave them to procreate more plants with smaller fruit.

Because strawberry fruits grow low to the ground, make sure to thoroughly wash them, whether you grow your own or buy them. Now, where's that shortcake recipe?


Blackberry Bush

Getty Images

Blackberries are a sweet treat with a host of health benefits and serve as the main ingredient for pies, jams, cobblers, and smoothies. They also freeze well, so you can stretch out a bountiful harvest to use throughout the year.

With many blackberry varieties, each preferring different growing conditions, check with your local garden center for a selection that grows best in your area. Blackberry shrubs come in erect or trailing categories, and the trailing types require a trellis or other support. Look for thornless varieties, which make picking much more enjoyable.


An important consideration when choosing vegetables for your garden is whether they're cool-season or warm-season vegetables. Cool-season types—radishes, asparagus, lettuce, garlic, and onions—can tolerate a bit of frost, so you can plant them earlier in the season and perhaps plant a second crop to harvest in the fall.

The rest of the vegetables we've listed here are warm-season types, which cannot tolerate frost in the least. Plant these vegetables after the last frost in spring and harvest them before the first frost in the fall. To determine your area's estimated first and last frost dates, visit the Farmer's Almanac website and enter your zip code.


Many Types of Radishes
Many Radishes. Maximilian Stock Ltd./Getty Images

Gardening rarely exacts immediate gratification, but for those with less patience than most, radishes are an excellent choice. This root vegetable takes only a month from planting a seed to harvest. It doesn't need exceptionally deep soil or lots of space, and can even tolerate a bit of shade.

You'll be surprised at the varieties of radishes you find on the seed stands. Choose from peppery or mild flavors, round or carrot shapes, and shades of white, yellow, pink, red, or purple. And radishes aren't just for adding to salads: Try them roasted!


Fresh asparagus
Fresh asparagus. 

Asparagus is an odd duck of garden vegetables, but that doesn't mean it's hard to grow. For one thing, it's a perennial, meaning you plant it once and it comes back—for as many as 15 years. Another way asparagus is different is you harvest it first thing in the spring, but then have to continue to care for the plants through the rest of the growing season (so it comes back the next).

For a dedicated asparagus patch, start with crowns, which are one-year roots that are far easier than starting from seed. After planting you'll have to wait one or two years before you can harvest, but it'll be so worth it. Any way you cook it, you'll love being able to snip fresh asparagus from just outside your door for a month or two every spring.

Leaf Lettuce

Fresh Leaf Lettuce
Fresh Leaf Lettuce. Frances Twitty/ Getty Images

Leaf lettuce is a wonderful beginner's garden crop: It can tolerate a light frost so you can plant it early in the season, it's ready for harvest in as little as a month after sowing, and after harvesting, it keeps growing for a second, third, and maybe fourth cutting.

Lettuce is perfect for a garden with a shady spot, because it can thrive in as little as 4 hours of full sun a day. While it doesn't take the heat well, some varieties are better at it than others.

Speaking of varieties, there's a lot to choose from when it comes to leaf lettuce. If you can't decide, go with mesclun, which is a medley of lettuce varieties in the same seed packet.


Planting garlic in the vegetable garden. Autumn gardening.
alicjane / Getty Images

If you're looking for the easiest edible plant, look no further than your grocery store. A head of garlic, of course, has many cloves, and each of them can be planted skin-on. Simply bury a garlic clove in a shallow bed with its pointy tip facing the sky.

With water and a few days, a green shoot surfaces, climbing at a surprising rate. In time, that underground clove grows into a new head of garlic for use in the kitchen. Don't forget to save some of those homegrown cloves for next season's planting.


high-angle view of basket of freshly picked red onions with roots and tops sitting on dirt ground

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A cousin of garlic, which is also in the allium family, onions are also easy to grow, but you probably won't find starts in the grocery store. You can plant onion seeds, but it's much easier (and faster) to start them from sets, which are little onion bulbs sold in clumps of 50 or so, that you can find at garden centers or farm stores.

If you think harvesting 50 onions at one time is too many, think again. They store easily, can be dehydrated to make onion flakes or powder, and are used in so many dishes and nearly every cuisine. It's crying time!


Zucchini fruit attached to plant stems closeup

The Spruce / Heidi Kolsky

You have to hold off planting zucchini until temperatures are consistently in the 70s, but it's worth the wait. Zucchini can grow to hilariously big sizes but, in this case, bigger isn't better. Pick them when small- or medium-sized for better tasting ones.

When planting your garden, allow zucchini plenty of elbow room—at least 3 feet—as they tend to sprawl. Be sure to water and fertilize regularly, as they are notoriously heavy feeders. The best part about growing zucchini might be how well it pairs with other easy-to-grow plants like garlic, mint, and tomatoes.


Tomato plants on a terrace.
Even a few tomato-bearing plants can offset what you need to purchase at the store. ChiccoDodiFC/Shutterstock

Simply put, tomatoes are unrivaled when eaten bursting ripe right off the garden vine. The next best part of growing your own tomatoes is access to a wide range of heirloom varieties that many grocery stores just don't offer. Most tomato plants, especially cherry tomatoes, are great for container gardening on patios and other small spaces, provided they get plenty of sun.

Tomato plants require regular watering and stakes or cages, which can be a hassle. But given ample sunlight (at least 8 hours per day), heat, and water, tomatoes are relatively easy to grow. The hard part is deciding which kind of tomato to grow: cherries for salads, Romas for sauces, or beefsteak for slicing? No one says you have to choose just one.


closeup of hands using pruners to harvest long slicing cucumber from leafy vine

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Another vegetable that isn't picky, cucumbers can be ready 6 weeks after planting. When you trellis cucumbers (recommended), the plants climb, giving you more garden-bed real estate for other vegetables. Plant this warm-season crop several weeks after your last frost.

Try your hand at lesser-known varieties, like the ball-shaped, mildly citrusy lemon cucumber. Once your cucumbers start to produce, you'll likely get enough to pickle, so you can savor their home-grown goodness well beyond the season.

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