Are you growing vegetables from seed for the first time?
Here's a list of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed and tips to get started!
Growing vegetables from seeds can be a rewarding experience. There's nothing quite like harvesting (and eating!) something that you've grown yourself.
While growing vegetables from store-bought transplants can be convenient, and less time consuming, you'll find that you have more options on varieties when you start from seeds instead.
In this article I'm including 9 vegetables that I personally think are easiest to grow from seed.
These crops are beginner-friendly, and will help you build confidence in your gardening skills.
Keep in mind, though, that I'm growing in a cool climate (Zone 5b in Southern Ontario, Canada), so what works for me might not be exactly the same for you.
Note: Some of these plants are technically fruits - not vegetables. I know. I'm choosing to include them because they are plants that are commonly grown as part of a vegetable garden (or kitchen garden).
🥕 Easy to Grow Root Vegetables
I love growing root vegetables because you almost never have to start them indoors.
These two vegetables in particular are super low maintenance. Just plant them in the ground, feed them with a low-nitrogen fertilizer, and water them. You'll eventually be rewarded with fresh tasty root veggies!
Both of these vegetables prefer cool weather, so plant them in the spring and fall.
Radishes are a great crop for beginner gardeners to grow!
These colourful little roots grow very quickly compared to other vegetables. Most varieties are ready in 25-30 days (although they take about 6 weeks in my cold climate).
Radishes also don't require a lot of maintenance (like pruning). I like to plant my seeds about 5 cm (2") apart, so I don't have to do much thinning either.
To get the best results, plant your radishes in a raised bed or a container that is at least 15-20 cm (6-8") deep.
Use a good quality potting soil, and be sure to remove any large pieces of debris.
Varieties to Try
Carrots are easy to grow, so long as your soil is loose and free of debris.
I use ProMix organic potting mix for all of my vegetables, but I make sure to sift out any large pieces of wood or other debris for my carrot bed.
Much like the radishes, carrots are going to grow best with a low-nitrogen fertilizer.
If you're going to plant carrots in pots or containers, you'll want something that has a depth of about 30-36 cm (12-14").
Tip: Carrot seeds will not germinate if they dry out! Water the seeds gently, but frequently, until germination. You might need a lightweight row cover to prevent the seeds from drying out during this time.
Varieties to Try
Napoli carrots are an "extra-early" variety, meaning they're ready to harvest earlier than most other varieties. These carrots are crisp, sweet and can be eaten as baby roots, too.
🥬 More Easy Cool Weather Vegetables
When I first started gardening, I didn't realize that these crops should be planted out in early spring. I just assumed that all vegetables only grew during the summer months.
I learned (the hard way) that some plants, like lettuce, absolutely hate hot weather!
Learning how to grow lettuce is an essential skill for anyone who is new to gardening.
Lettuce grows quickly and doesn't take up a lot of space, making it a great option for balcony and patio growers.
Unlike many other plants, lettuce develops very shallow roots. Your containers only need about 15 cm (6") of soil for lettuce to grow in.
Homegrown lettuce tastes far better than anything you can buy at the grocery store, and if you harvest it correctly, you can enjoy fresh lettuce for several weeks.
With lettuce, you have the option of starting your lettuce seeds indoors or sowing them directly into the ground.
Personally, I like to start my lettuce indoors because this gives me strong healthy seedlings that just grow better once they're planted outside.
Lettuce needs consistent watering to grow, so be sure to keep it moist.
Varieties to Try
If you like romaine lettuce, try growing Little Gem! It's a smaller and sweeter than regular romaine, and is prized by chefs. Another great option is Buttercrunch, which has soft leaves with almost no bitterness.
Honestly, I've only ever grown one variety of celery. It's called Tango and it grows so well that I haven't bothered to try anything else.
This particular variety of celery has been improved from other types, and tends to grow very well in Southern Canada and Northern United States.
Celery should be started indoors and then transplanted outside when overnight temperatures are at least 10°C (50°F).
As you might know, celery has a high water content. This means that it needs to be watered frequently for best results.
If you're growing celery in a container, choose one that has at least 20 cm (8") of depth.
I'd also recommend using a plastic container or another material that will retain moisture. Terra cotta would not be a good choice here.
Varieties to Try
Obviously, I'm going to recommend Tango celery here. The flavour of this celery is so good, and it's less fibrous than other varieties making it easy to snack on raw.
The entire point of growing peas is for their fresh sweet flavour.
Peas lose their fresh sweet flavour very quickly, which is why fresh peas from the grocery store tend to taste a bit starchy.
By growing peas at home, we get to experience their flavour at peak freshness.
Unfortunately, it takes a LOT of pea plants to have enough peas for a meal. The common recommendation is about 20-30 plants PER PERSON.
I know - that's a lot!
I usually just plant about 6-8 plants and use the peas in dishes with other vegetables.
In my opinion, peas should be started indoors. This gives you a jump start on the growing season, and allows the peas to form while the weather is still a bit cool.
Snap peas and snow peas are easier to grow than shelling peas. They also require less prep for cooking as their pods are edible.
If you want to grow peas in a container, choose one that has a depth of 20 cm (8").
Regardless of weather you grow your peas in a container or a raised bed, they will need a trellis for support.
Varieties to Try
For snow peas, try Dwarf Grey Sugar. These snow peas have pretty pink blossoms that form before the snow peas develop. These work well in raised beds or large raised planters.
For snap peas, go with Sugar Ann. These are early, compact snap peas that work exceptionally well in containers. They also have some disease resistance, making them a great choice for beginners.
🍅 The Easiest Heat-Loving Vegetables
Lastly, let's talk about the vegetables that love the warm days of summer!
These are plants that thrive on sunny days, and little to no tolerance to frost.
Some of these vegetable seeds need to be started indoors at the end of winter, so that they'll have enough time to grow and produce fruits or vegetables before frost arrives.
This is especially important in colder zones, like my zone (5b) where the growing season is less than 100 days.
There are two options to chose from when selecting beans for your garden: bush beans and pole peans.
I personally think that bush beans are easier to grow. They mature quicker, work in containers because they don't need a trellis, and you can harvest them quickly.
The key to growing beans is that they need warm soil to grow. Sowing seeds into cold wet soil usually causes them to rot.
While you can start these seeds indoors, I haven't found that it's necessary.
As your beans grow, be sure to water them but don't leave them soaking wet. They need less water than lettuce and celery, for example.
I like to grow beans to snack on, but if you want to plant enough to make an entire dish you're going to need several plants.
Like peas, it takes a lot of plants to feed multiple people. In fact, some people recommend growing about 10 plants per person...
I usually grow about 6-8 plants each summer, and that's enough for me to add to dishes for my family (like a stir fry) or just snack on.
Bush beans need about 15 cm (6") of depth, at minimum.
Varieties to Try
I have been recommending Ferrari beans to everyone I know for about three years now. They have disease resistance, grow with basically no help from me beyond an initial application of fertilizer, and taste amazing.
This compact variety of beans works well in containers, or in the corner spots of a raised bed.
Tomatoes are one of those plants that must be started indoors if you're going to grow them from seed.
If you're brand new to gardening, you may actually enjoy growing tomatoes more if you start them from seedlings.
Once you've learned the basics about growing tomatoes, you can start to explore the vast world of tomato seeds.
Tomatoes can be a bit tricky to grow, but I have two recommendations that should help you out.
Tomatoes germinate far better when the soil is warm, and without enough light they will become "leggy" (tall and weak).
Second, in my experience cherry tomatoes are far easier to grow than any of the large heirloom varieties. They grow quickly, are less prone to cracking and rarely develop blossom end rot.
Most cherry tomatoes need about 30 cm (12") of depth. If you choose to grow a larger variety of tomato, you'll want to go with at least 60 cm (24") minimum.
For best results, give tomatoes a balanced all-purpose fertilizer at planting, and again about halfway through the growing season.
It's also important to water them consistently, which also helps to avoid getting cracked tomatoes.
Once you learn how to grow cherry tomatoes, you can work your way through the many other delicious and interesting varieties that are out there.
Varieties to Try
If you've never grown tomatoes before, you might want to start with Sweet Millions. This classic cherry tomato is easy to grow in various climates, and produces tons of tomatoes all summer long.
If you're growing on the balcony or windowsill of an apartment or condo, try Red Robin. This compact dwarf tomato plant grows best in small containers, and gives you lots of sweet cherry tomatoes.
The growing conditions for both hot and sweet peppers are basically the same. They like a lot of heat, a lot of water, and a lot of morning sunlight.
Like tomatoes, pepper seeds must be started inside and will germinate best if you use a seedling heat mat.
These seeds can take up to three weeks to sprout, so don't be surprised if you don't see anything happening for a couple of weeks.
In my experience, hot peppers are much easier to grow than sweet peppers. They grow more quickly and seem to be more resilient to not getting enough water.
Peppers can thrive in raised beds and containers, but they do need at least 35cm (14") of depth for their roots. Larger peppers (like bell peppers) will need more depth as they develop bigger root systems.
Varieties to Try
For a sweet pepper that's a bit easier to grow than a bell pepper, try Red Candy Cane. These peppers are sweet, beautiful to look at, and work well in containers.
For a hot pepper, Thai Dragon might be a good option for you. These spicy peppers work well in containers, and add visual appeal to any garden.
Cucumbers love warm weather, lots of sunlight, and a ton of water.
Cucumbers are container and raised bed-friendly and are a great way to make use of vertical space, too.
For containers, choose something with a depth of at least 40 cm (16"), although more depth doesn't hurt.
As with the tomatoes and peppers, it's best to start your cucumbers indoors if you live in a cold climate.
Cucumbers tend to suffer from something called "transplant shock", which basically means they don't like to be moved once they've started growing.
To help avoid this issue, you can plant your cucumber seeds into a paper or peat-based pots that will disintegrate into the soil. This removes the need to take the seedlings out of the pot to transplant them.
Cucumbers are another vegetable that has a high water content, and needs to be watered consistently. Aim to keep the soil moist, but not soaking wet.
Varieties to Try
Marketmore is your best choice when it comes to growing in small spaces due to their shorter vines. These cucumbers are crisp with a lovely sweet flavour that works well in salad or eaten as is.
Note: All of these vegetables (aside from the root vegetables) will benefit from being fed a balanced fertilizer at planting.
Where To Buy Vegetable Seeds
If you're not sure where to buy your seeds, you can check out local garden centre or nursery. Other retails stores, like hardwares or groceries may carry a limited supply of seeds during the spring and summer months as well.
I generally prefer to order seeds online though, as it allows me to shop very early in the season, before seed displays have even been set up at the stores.
📆 Find Your Planting Calendar
If you're new to gardening or just want to plan out your growing season ahead of time, you might want to print off the vegetable planting calendar for your area.
Go to the planting calendar page on The Old Farmer's Almanac website and search for your area by city, state/province or ZIP/postal code. This works for both Canadian and USA cities and gives you planting dates for specific fruits and vegetables, for both the spring and fall growing seasons.
Another great resource is the page of Regional Planting Charts from West Coast Seeds. There are charts for various areas across Canada and the United States. These charts tell you when to start seeds or direct sow for pretty much every edible plant you can think of.
Do you agree that these are the easiest vegetables to grow from seed? Let me know in the comments!
I'd love to find out what you enjoy growing in your garden too.
This article about the easiest vegetables to grow from seed was first published on Mar 23, 2021. It has since been completely re-written and new photos have been added.