Easy vegetables for beginner gardeners

Posted on Mar 22 2024 in Backyard

By Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

If you have never grown a vegetable in a garden or a pot, now is the time. Here are three that are easy and yummy.



Bauer oakleaf lettuce, a 2022 All-America Selection, grows in a tight rosette head that is as beautiful as it is delicious. The lettuce is dark green, and the head is compact. The tidiness of bauer makes it an excellent edible ornamental for containers or window boxes. It can also be planted in the ground. Sow seeds directly outdoors or start them indoors to transplant them outside. It grows in part sun to full sun. Keep the soil moist but not wet.

To harvest bauer, snip off young individual leaves in the morning. Rinse, dry, wrap in a dampened paper towel, store a loose plastic bag, and place in the refrigerator. If you have a salad spinner, use that to wash and rinse the lettuce, which can be stored in the spinner. The lettuce you pick and wash in the morning will be perfect for sandwiches or salads.



Shallots, a member of the onion family, can be pricey in the grocery store. Enter Echalion Crème Brulee. Sometimes called banana shallot, echalion is a cross of an onion and shallot. The result is a 4-inch oblong shallot with pink skins that are easy to peel. The color doesn’t stop there. Crème Brulee’s inner rings are also pink.

A 2021 All-America Selection, Crème Brulee can be grown from seed in containers or the garden. Sow seeds directly outdoors in a sunny location. Keep the soil moist but not wet.

To harvest, pull the shallots about 100 days after planting. If the shallot seems small, allow the plants to continue growing. Once gathered, allow the plants to cure in the sun for about 10 days. When dry, remove the tops and store the onions in a cool, dry place. Caramelize the shallots for an even sweeter treat.



Carrots are hard for many Hoosiers to grow because Indiana’s soil is typically clay. Carrots’ long, tapered roots can be stunted or misshapen when they hit heavy clay or hardpan soil. This veggie can be grown in spring through summer and into fall. Short stuff carrots are perfect for containers or growing in less-than-perfect soil. They are short, about 4 inches long, and fat — a great size for roasting. Sow seeds directly outdoors in pots or in the ground. Keep the soil moist but not wet.

After about 75 days, pull short stuff carrots from the ground. If it looks fully developed, harvest more. If it seems underdeveloped, allow the plants to grow another week or two. Clean the harvested carrots when you are ready to use them. You can leave the tops on or cut them off. Store in a cool, dry place.

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, who writes and speaks about gardening, blogs at hoosiergardener.com