Whether you’re new to gardening or you just don’t have the time to cultivate much this year (but still want your garden growing), it’s helpful to know the easiest vegetables to grow both indoors and out. Low-maintenance, durable, and useful, these are easy vegetables for beginners to learn with, and for pros to rely on. Even if it’s winter, even if you don’t have a yard, check out the details behind each of these veggies—many of them can be grown surprisingly and successfully indoors!
The Easiest Vegetables to Grow Indoors
If you don’t live in a place with a summer climate, or don’t want to give up fresh veggies all winter, or you simply do not have a yard or community garden to grow in, then this is the section for you: growing vegetables indoors just got so much easier!
The popular and colorful carrot is a root vegetable that appreciates the inside as much as the outside. Though you won’t get huge carrots by growing them indoors, you can nevertheless keep yourself in a constant supply of fresh ones.
Fill a pot between 8-12 inches deep with organic potting soil (leave an inch to spare at the top), and then plant your carrot seeds about a quarter-inch deep. Place your planter in a sunny windowsill, or with a timed sunlamp if you’re in the dead of a dark winter (maybe ask the carrots if you can share some time in the artificial light too—you need sunlight to grow as much as they do).
The soil should stay moist, with each carrot at least an inch away from the next, and they’ll be ready to harvest once their tops appear above the soil line. You can replant every 2 weeks, all year long, and always have fresh carrots available.
This green leafy superfood can actually be grown indoors, in a medium-sized pot that needs little room but lots of light (up to 8 hours per day). Plant the seeds, cover with a half-inch of topsoil, and watch for leaves within a week. Outside of regular watering, kale is low maintenance, and growing this super green indoors is a great way to get its wealth of vitamins and minerals all year round.
As hardy a plant outdoors as in, your tomato plant may need to come indoors because of an unseasonable frost or a pesky squirrel. It’s okay: they can do just as well inside provided they have enough sunlight. Outside they will provide fruit all summer long, but the first time you bring your tomato plant inside, you might be surprised by how well it does.
You can buy tomatoes as starter plants, or start them from seeds yourself inside an egg carton. Once they’re a couple of inches tall and their roots strong, they can be transplanted to an outdoor garden or grown inside of a container. Should you have use of a porch, outdoor deck, or balcony, that’s even better. You can trellis the tomato plant and let it grow big and tall. Nutrient rich, fragrant, and beautiful, a homegrown tomato of the Roma or beefsteak varieties will give you a well-deserved feeling of pride.
Great to grow indoors for its spicy flavor, arugula also flourishes well in cool temperatures. Simply sprinkle the seeds into a container of soil, cover them with 1/8 inch of topsoil, mist until damp, and allow them to germinate in a sunny windowsill. You can thin out the weakest seedlings to preference the stronger ones as you tend to it, and enjoy the multiple harvests one plant can provide (so long as you leave the smaller leaves each time you come a-snipping).
Also known as green onions, scallions provide you with an onion-y taste without having to grow full bulbs in the ground. Start them from seeds or grow them from the roots of scallions purchased at your grocery store—just replant the roots in the soil, and watch them grow again and again as you keep harvesting the tops. They’re like zombies, those scallions! You can bury them over and over, and they’ll still dig themselves back up again.
We know, we know—not a vegetable. And yet it’s so surprising to know you can grow lemons indoors with a dwarf lemon tree, it just had to be mentioned. Beautiful as a houseplant, useful in recipes, and good for your health! Zest on your meals, hot lemon tea in the winter, and a visual pleasure perhaps taking up that awkward corner near your sliding glass door.
It’s possible to start a dwarf citrus tree from a seed yourself, but you may want to reap the benefits of having it right away, in which case, maybe buy a potted one from a nursery to keep all your indoor veggies company.
With micro right in the name, you might imagine these will be small and quick alternatives to the longer process of growing salad greens. Correct! One of the easiest ways to grow vegetables indoors, microgreens need minimal amounts of space, grow fast, and are delicious. Just sprinkle a microgreen seed mix in a shallow container, cover with soil, keep moist, and harvest away when you see leaves.
Visually reminiscent of bamboo, ginger can be found at a natural food store or farmers market. Soak it in water for a couple of hours, and then place the root in a shallow container wide enough to let it breathe. Only lightly cover it with soil, keep it moist, and watch it grow.
Lettuce is another easy plant option for growing indoors or outdoors depending on your environment. For salads, to add something green to a sandwich, or use as a veggie wrap, lettuce takes up very little space to grow. Head lettuce for the yard, or leaf lettuce for indoors, so you can harvest the leaves over and over, giving yourself even more lettuce for much less effort.
Sprinkle seeds on potting soil, cover lightly with topsoil, mist and keep damp in a sunny window or under a grow light, and watch the seeds germinate into dinner.
Easiest Vegetables to Grow Outdoors
These are plants easy to grow outside in a climate with summers. Use the above list in winter or if you don’t have the space, but if you want to get outside in summer, the following vegetables are for you. Not only will you get extra time in the sun and open air, gardening may do wonders for your mental health and mood, plus improve the environment.
Instead of wasting water on a lawn, you’re growing food with it. More green leaves around means more oxygen circulating at your house. And if you choose to plant some flowers while you’re at it, not only will you beautify your lawn and your table when you select an arrangement of blooms, you will also create a healthy habitat for bees that will help pollinate your garden and the local flora. Do yourself and your neighbors a favor by planting a garden, and check out these easy outdoor veggies to get started with some tried and true staples.
It only takes a few squash plants to produce enough nutrient-dense food to feed a family. They’re high-yield, hardy plants. Set the seeds in loose soil about 8 inches apart, and put them in a spot where they might be protected from high winds. Water well, and harvest when ripe.
There are many varieties of bean plants, some of which can be grown easily indoors. Bush beans can be grown inside for example, but need a lot of sunlight, so may do better outside depending on the sun exposure in your home. Likewise pole beans will need plenty of space to grow up a trellis if they’re healthy enough, and so would do well in an outdoor space too.
Cucumber plants tend to sprawl out, so giving them plenty of space or else choosing smaller varieties of cucumbers to grow will be your best options. With fresh cucumbers around, you can add their texture and water content to your homemade salads, or you can take it upon yourself to learn how to pickle!
Another plant perfectly suited for inclusion in a salad, spinach is high in iron, and can become your vegetable component for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in omelets, smoothies, and soups. Pick from a spinach plant continuously once it’s big enough. It’s a plant that keeps on giving.
Best grown in light shade, Swiss chard stands between spinach and the next entry, radishes, because it’s a little bit of both. Edible and ornamental, Swiss chard’s leaves are deeply nutritious green vegetables, while its stalks have the bright red of a radish to add beauty to your garden. Strong and prolific, Swiss chard can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and would be a sturdy plant to include.
Perfect for beginner gardeners, you can plant seeds for radishes in early spring or fall, and let the radishes plump up underground, just waiting to be pulled up. Both the root and the leaves can be eaten, so it’s a nearly foolproof plant with nothing but goods to be gained.
Bell pepper plants can often be found as starter plants in nurseries, but they can be started in-home with 8-10 weeks of advance preparation (depends on how much lead time you can handle on your gardening results; you might need to start a “when to plant vegetables chart” to schedule this one correctly). With beautiful colors and crunch, bell peppers are botanically considered fruit, but in the culinary world they are treated and valued as veggies.
At last: an herb. Basil can be easily planted indoors and out. Basil leaves are indispensable in many Italian recipes and they provide a fragrant presence as they grow. Use them fresh or dry them for use long after the summer growing season has passed.
Sometimes It’s Easy Being Green
Even if you prefer to have your own garden kingdom each year in your yard, don’t let the cold weather defeat you in winter. Bring your garden inside! If you live in an apartment or in a city with very little foliage, maybe your balcony or the corner of your living room can be a small oasis from the industrial landscape outside. These strong plants are an excellent way for beginners to learn their way around cultivating and for gardening pros to take it easy for a season.