Fast-growing vegetables are great for
backyard gardeners who want to maximize their summer harvest (or who are just impatient!). For every quick-growing veggie we’ve chosen for our list, we’ve included the number of days it needs before it’s ready to harvest.
BRASSICA RAPA; 38 days to harvest
Quick-growing salad turnips, like Hakurei, are popular at farmers markets but easy to grow at home, too. Ready to dig up just weeks after seeding, they are known as a dual-purpose crop, yielding sweet roots as well as tasty greens for salads and stir-fries. Here’s
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Why we love it: The golf ball-size roots are delicious raw, cooked or pickled. Plus these super veggies are loaded with vitamin C, calcium and iron. Turnips also tolerate fall frosts and turn sweeter in cool weather. Smooth-Leaf Spinach
SPINACIA OLERACEA; 38 days to harvest
Seed companies offer three types of spinach: savoy, semi-savoy and smooth-leaf. For rapid growth, stick with smooth varieties like Corvair or Space. Their round-to-oval leaves stay compact and maintain quality for an extended harvest season.
DAUCUS CAROTA VAR. SATIVUS; 50 days to harvest
Forget the imposter baby carrots found in the supermarket. Adelaide is a true baby carrot, with three- to four-inch-long roots and a mild flavor. It’s also among the earliest carrots to mature, with roots that are ready to be pulled in just seven weeks.
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Why we love it: Even those without gardens can grow these baby carrots by sowing seeds in pots or window boxes.
Cherry Belle Radish
RAPHANUS SATIVUS; 22 days to harvest
For more than 60 years, this award-winning variety has been a garden standard, and for good reason. It offers an extra-early harvest of small, rounded roots with cherry red skin and crisp white flesh. This crop can be harvested three weeks after seeding.
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Why we love it: Radishes are edible from top to bottom! Eat the roots and leaves, then let a few plants flower for the blooms and crunchy seed pods. Generally speaking the longer you allow radishes to grow, the spicier they will taste when you dig them up. Let ’em linger, but not too long. Then they become pithy rather than more flavorful. Tokyo Bekana Cabbage
BRASSICA RAPA VAR. PEKINENSIS, 30 days to harvest
Although Tokyo Bekana looks like lettuce, it’s actually a loose-leaf Chinese cabbage. Slender white stems hold attractive rosettes of crinkly lime-green leaves. The flavor is sweet and mild, and the plants tolerate cold, thriving in early spring and autumn.
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Why we love it: This easy-to-grow green is perfect for garden beds but works well in window boxes and containers, too. Kale
BRASSICA OLERACEA; 65 days to harvest
This superfood not only packs a nutritional punch but is speedy from seed to harvest. Among the quickest to grow are smooth-leaved varieties like Toscano and Red Russian, which can be harvested as greens a mere month from sowing.
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Why we love it: The leaves of recently sprouted kale are more tender than those harvested from mature plants. On the other end of the harvest spectrum, kale can even be harvested after a snowfall. Cooler temps prompt kale to turn stored starch into sugars, which makes it even sweeter. Give your yield a further boost by harvesting outer leaves when they’re eight to 10 inches tall. Tatsoi
BRASSICA RAPA VAR. NARINOSA; 45 days to harvest
Tatsoi is a quick-growing mustard that forms low rosettes of spoon-shaped, deep green leaves. It has a mild flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. Tatsoi is very hardy, thriving in fall gardens and winter cold frames.
ERUCA SATIVA; 40 days to harvest
The peppery leaves of arugula have been adding zip to salads for more than 2,000 years, and for good reason. This gourmet green is über fast, with baby leaves ready just three weeks from seeding. After you’ve had your fill of greens, allow a few plants to flower. The dainty blooms are edible and add a pretty pop of color to salads.
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Why we love it: Arugula thrives in cool weather and can be planted as soon as the soil thaws in early spring. Leaf Lettuce
LACTUCA SATIVA; 45 days to harvest
There are many types of lettuce, but for sheer speed you can’t beat this one. Harvest-ready in six weeks, it comes in a variety of leaf colors and textures. Best bets include Red Salad Bowl, Black Seeded Simpson and Merlot. Start sowing seeds in early spring, and plant more every few weeks for months of homegrown lettuce. Growing vegetables but not in pots?
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Why we love it: Leaf lettuce is pretty and productive. Tuck it into spring containers with pansies for an eye-catching, edible combination. Petite Snap-Greens Pea
PISUM SATIVUM; 30 days to harvest
If you love cute leafy greens, you’ll want to give Petite Snap-Greens a whirl. It’s a new variety grown for its dense clusters of edible leaflets, not for the pods or peas themselves. Sow seeds in pots or beds and begin harvesting the leafy tendrils soon after they form.
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Why we love it: The pleasant crunch of the leaflets add bright flavor to pastas, salads, stir-fries and wraps.
Photo credit to © John Burke Getty Images; © Del Boy/Shutterstock
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