Just getting into growing food? You might want to wait before trying your green thumb at these plants.

By Chris Malloy
April 22, 2020
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If you’re a new gardener, you might be energized by the prospect of growing food at home or by your early successes. Feeling optimistic, you might want to plant a bunch of plants. Maybe you can already see the future meals they might become. That’s great. But before you head out and buy seeds or seedlings, know which fruits and vegetables fall on the harder end of the difficulty spectrum. Some can be pretty tricky.

These seven are tough to grow. Maybe you’ll want to leave them to the professionals, or maybe you’re up for a challenge and want to get planting anyway. Either way, your gardening efforts are likely better-served by these seven types of fruits and vegetables (that are super easy to grow) instead.

Grapes

With grapes, you’ll need to take a long view. A very long view. Vines take at least two years to produce fruit. If you want to use the fruit to make wine, it’ll take another few years on top of that for the grapes to provide the right balance. Grapes also require trellising. Proceed only if you’re up for a long-term time and energy investment.

Celery

In addition to growing from tiny, hard-to-work-with seeds, celery requires soil with the ability to retain a lot of moisture. The vegetable has a marathon, multi-month growing season. And at the end of this season, your reward isn’t as earth-shaking as a ripe, juicy tomato. Homegrown celery isn’t much better from what you can easily buy from the grocery store.

Cauliflower

Much harder than even its difficult relative broccoli, cauliflower, for one, is finicky when it comes to temperature. Days can’t be too hot or too cold. Heads of the vegetable are known to draw pests. If you have visions of harvesting snow-white cauliflower, know that they tend to shade into colors more off-white or yellow.

Watermelon

True, chomping into a prime wedge of watermelon on a sweltering day is something great. The trouble is getting there. When growing watermelon, it’s hard to tell when they’re ready. Pick them too early, and they’ll be whitish rather than pink and juicy. They also need a lot of space, not to mention heat, making them a challenge in far northern states.

Artichokes

You also need space for artichokes: at least a whopping four feet between plants. You’ll need a climate close to the warmer Mediterranean climate in which they evolved, or they’ll struggle. The thorniest part of growing artichokes, though, might be the harvest. Snipping heads from plants comes with unexpected piercings from hidden spines.

Eggplant

As much as you may like eggplant, there’s a kind of beetle that might like it more. Pests are an issue when growing the vegetable. Lack of heat, too, might thwart your efforts. Eggplant should get a whole lot of sun and hot days. The summer vegetable plant should also be staked, so it isn’t weighed down by heavy purple fruit.

Onions

Though they produce shoots quickly, onions can be tricky to grow. From varietal to varietal, onions differ in their sensitivity to variations in daylight and weather. They are a cooler-weather crop, so if you live in a more humid climate, know that excess humidity can harm the bulbs. Meaning growing them may make your eyes water, too.