The Easiest Thing to Start Growing

Posted on Aug 22 2012 - 2:23am by Mike Lieberman

What is the simplest thing you can grow?

Which vegetable is pretty much failproof?

What is the one vegetable that is recommended for beginner’s to start with?

These are questions that I often get and the answer is pretty simple.

It’s not tomatoes

I’ve been very vocal and shared why most of your garden’s will fail before.

One of those reasons is that when you are first starting out, you want to grow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and eggplant.

These are all possible to grow, but they are more difficult when you are first starting out.


Because they require more sunlight, fertilizer, time and attention. That’s a lot to give when you are first starting out.

My top recommended crop

That’s why I always recommend that people who are first starting out to keep it simple and grow some greens.

Any kind of green – lettuce, spinach, chard, kale…any leafy green will be pretty simple.

Here’s the deal – we all know what to do with greens and can sure eat more of them in our diets.

Once you successfully grow them, then start with your tomatoes and peppers.

For the experienced gardener — those of you that have been gardening “longer than I’ve been alive” (which you love to tell me so much), this post isn’t for you.

Still need help starting your garden?

If you are still feeling overwhelmed and want step-by-step instructions on starting your garden, then enroll in my Fall Gardening 101 course today.

Your turn

In the comments below, share which leafy green you are going to start in your garden.

15 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Walnut August 22, 2012 at 9:47 am -

    I’m the exact opposite. I can grow any tomato or pepper, but manage to kill off every green. I think my very first foray in gardening was a couple pots of herbs. My best advice to beginners is to pick something you know you’ll eat or is expensive at the grocery store, make sure your pot is large enough, and spend time investigating why something died. Even the most experienced gardener will unintentionally kill off a good number of plants.

  2. Ellen Laprise August 26, 2012 at 8:36 am -

    Did you know that peppers like to be touching each other, in order to thrive? It’s true! Information from my friend Eleanore 🙂

  3. Tom Ballard August 26, 2012 at 8:46 am -

    Squash seems easier to grow than weeds here in Kansas City. It even jumped the little chicken-wire fence I put around my small plot and is growing in the yard! I agree that tomatoes can be tricky, especially getting large yields later in the season.

  4. Kristin Leiva August 26, 2012 at 11:14 am -

    All my lettuce bolted. Shot straight up and was bitter. Very bummed about that…

  5. Bill Brikiatis August 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm -

    Squash is tough in my area. We have squash borer. It means we need to use various methods to make sure that the squash plant doesn’t get infected. It’s not easy, but it can be done. But I’ve never tried to grow it in a container.

  6. April Graves August 29, 2012 at 10:19 am -

    I grow kale every year. It’s not my family’s favorite, but I chop it up small, and add it to everything. They don’t even notice! I usually am great with my garden in the beginning, but then the bugs, viruses, and powdery mildew come. I am just not the best at “preventative” gardening. By the time I know what to do, the plants are half dead! I had a chocolate cherry tomato that got some virus this year. It ruined over 100 cherry tomatoes. Bummer!

  7. Dee September 22, 2012 at 6:03 am -

    I’m growing kale, brussels sprouts, and broccoli this fall.

  8. dean s October 4, 2012 at 11:33 pm -

    Orange County California here, had most of my greens bolt as soon as it got hot and it seemed like a bad year all around for tomatoes. But my hot peppers, eggplants and bitter melon(gourd) are doing great. Cucumber and egg gourds are doing decently. Also had bottle gourds pop up from seeds dumped in a corner about 2 years ago and I got a mess of gourds for just a bit of fertilizer and water.

    Have to try chard next season and a some more Asian greens which were looking good before a couple of things happened to them and some daikon(Asian radish) because the greens are usually trimmed or don’t look so hot in the market.

    All in all for me it was a lot of fun just trying a bunch of different veggies and planting methods to see what works for my area for my first large attempt. Results may vary depending on where you live and what your situation is like, around here even a few miles can make a difference. I’m trying a few different varieties of the same veggie to see which does best for me if I can.

    There’s a lot of good advice here and around, so try to learn all you can. Try to use your problems as learning experiences, don’t get frustrated and remember have fun, it’s not work if its fun(or as much work anyway ha).
    Good luck gardening all (wow this kinda got long)

  9. Anise November 4, 2012 at 1:23 am -

    @ Walnut. I’m the same way. I can grow tomatoes and peppers in my sleep. They were the first things I tried. But I can’t grow lettuce or spinach ever. Right now I have more tomatoes plants than I have room for, and peppers are great. I have a nice set of broccoli seedlings and carrots growing. The kale I’m trying for the first time is doing very well. The cabbage and beets are also my first attempts and doing ok. I have a single spinach seedling from a couple dozen seeds. I’m going to try some other varities of spinach, (other than the Bloomsadle longstanding), including perpetual spinach, and see if I have any luck.

  10. KMS April 8, 2013 at 8:16 am -

    I’m from Upstate NY. I have had good luck with Roma tomatoes more so than other kinds of tomatoes. I have had great luck with zucchini–too much luck, LOL. Lettuce and spinach did not do well for me, but chard did great. And surprisingly my winter squashes and pumpkins didn’t do well at all. Radishes also do great. They practically grow themselves. I also want to grow kale this year. This year was the first time I ever ate kale and I love it, so now I want to grow lots and lots of it.

  11. Stefani Bel May 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm -

    This is my first time planting and one of the things I chose was tomatoes. Wish me luck! lol

  12. Jason Davis May 11, 2013 at 8:50 pm -

    It seems many of your readers/commenters are already on to my top favorite and easiest crop – KALE! It’s amazingly delicious and extremely versatile, and it’s so simple to grow and very high germination (at least our seeds are).
    We incorporate kale into our family meals nearly every night of the week, and it’s surprisingly delicious and fast growing.
    The majority of our plantings for our family consumption (SUSTAINABILITY!!!) are kale, spinach, 10 or so varieties of lettuce, broccoli, peas, and beans. Amazingly fast and easy and foolproof.
    After a long winter and long freeze, we just started open-air planting our greens, but still are seeing nearly 100% germination of our nonGMO veggies – unheard of in most veggie circles!
    I get all my non-GMO seeds from The Ark Institute (google them), and it’s amazing the harvests!

  13. Enette May 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm -

    I have a good sized window and ledge in my apartment so I started growing lettuce, tatsoi lettuce, an eggplant and some herbs. I got really bad gnats. I want to be natural but since my plants are inside (no balcony) I can’t do these little bugs everywhere. What do I do?

  14. CanadianaKid August 27, 2013 at 6:07 am -

    I agree with your choice, although I’d also have to say garlic is pretty easy, care free, and disease/pest resistant stuff. Also an excellent starter crop. (Thoughts from The Backyard Urban Farm Company)

  15. CanadianaKid August 27, 2013 at 6:12 am -

    Some commenters below talk about bolting, which is one of the challenges with greens. Once the weather turns warm/hot, the plants genetics tell them “time to produce seeds”, so they shoot up flower stalks/flowers, that get pollinated. Every living thing on earth has one main purpose, which is to make more of itself. You can’t fight genetics (try as they might!) So, although greens are very easy to grow, they are susceptible to the weather /time of year and are most successful in cooler weather at the beginning and end of the season. Also many greens are vulnerable to slugs/snails, but they are not too difficult to control, especially if detected early, before too many eggs are laid. (Thoughts from The Backyard Urban Farm Company)

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