Easy Plants for New Gardeners

Growing an epic fruit and veggie garden takes a lot of work and dedication. But there are a few plants that make the task MUCH easier. Knowing what these plants are can help you grow a beautiful garden quickly, especially if you are new to gardening. The plants we will highlight today produce like crazy with minimal effort for you.

There may be some variation in plants, depending on where you live. We are in North Florida, just to give you a good idea of our climate and location. Just make sure you are planting something that is friendly to your climate and at the right time before you get started.

Peppers

Everyone loves a good hot pepper…or at least we do! There are a few plants that are just easy to grow and that produce tons of peppers for months on end.

Tabasco Pepper

The Tabasco pepper plant is our #1 pick for the easiest pepper plant. We planted a tiny seedling in March and have not regretted it since. From May moving forward, we have had non-stop Tabasco peppers (it’s almost November and it is still producing like crazy). So many of them in fact, that it is hard to keep up with eating them. They are tiny orange-red peppers that actually grow up, which is pretty cool. Not only is it easy to care for and a great producer, but it is also a very pretty plant. The peppers start green and change from yellow to orange and finally to red. The plant is like a rainbow of colors at any point in time.

A picture of our Tabasco pepper plant is on the right. We had already clipped off all of the ripe peppers before we snapped this photo, but you can still see that there are a ton of peppers on the plant.

When cooking with Tabasco peppers, just be aware that they are tiny and mighty. In other words, one pepper usually provides enough spice for a dish that will feed 4 people. If you like a lot of heat, then 2-3 peppers would probably get you to that next level. Just remember that a little bit goes a long way with these teeny-tiny peppers.

Dragon Cayenne Pepper

Coming in at a close #2 is the Dragon Cayenne Pepper. The only reason that this is ranked slightly below the Tabasco pepper is because it has slowed production down substantially since summer, though we still get a few peppers per week. This might be because we had to bring it indoors during hurricane Irma to keep it safe, but it’s really hard to tell. During the heat of summer, this plant produced at least 5 peppers that were ready to snip per day. It was an easy plant to care for and started putting out peppers very quickly after we planted the seedling.

It is also VERY good eating. From a flavor standpoint, this is my absolute favorite pepper. It’s very hot upfront on your tongue, but it doesn’t stick around and burn like the dickens. Can you say perfect pepper? Well, at least for us it is. I chop up one of these peppers and put them into everything from egg scrambles in the morning to red meat sauce for pasta. Versatile, delicious and easy to eat. But most of all, it is EASY to grow :-).

Shishito Sweet Pepper

If you’re not into spicy, but want a good sweet pepper to add to your dishes then the Shishito Sweet Pepper is by far the easiest sweet pepper we’ve grown. It is also still producing peppers and we get about 1 a day from it. Though, during the heat of the summer we had numerous peppers every day and could barely keep up with them. They are small peppers with a wonderful flavor and a thinner flesh. Now that we’ve grown them, I like them much better than bell peppers. They grow faster, ripen faster and are much less finicky than a regular bell pepper. We’ve found that anything that ripens for a long time on the vine (especially in Florida) is subject to bug destruction. That’s part of what makes this pepper such a great option.

Fruit

We love growing fruit, though as you expand into more adventurous fruit plants you will find that cross-pollination is a requirement for many plants. As a result, our suggestions are plants that you just stick in the ground and water instead because today is all about keeping it simple.

Watermelon

Watermelon is by far the easiest plant we’ve ever grown, probably because it’s pretty much a weed :-). The bigger challenge will actually be getting rid of this plant, rather than growing it. Because of this, I feel compelled to warn you about it before you plant it: THIS WILL TAKE OVER YOUR GARDEN. Just plant it far away from anything else and give it plenty of space. It’s a vine, so it will grow like crazy until you decide it’s time to pull it out. It will also put out watermelon like it’s its job, which is fantastic.

The best part about this plant is that it actually needs less water in order to produce flavorful fruit. You do still need to water it, but definitely not every day and you do not want to over-soak it when you do. You also only need one plant in order to get a good yield of fruit. So, just plant it in the ground and watch it grow :-). Also, we did notice that the vines can be tender, so please handle with care and don’t dead-head.

In order to tell if it’s ready, the belly (the downside of the fruit) of the plant will actually turn a creamy yellow and it will sound hollow when you knock on it. I had to look at a watermelon from the store to really compare. That will give you a good gauge to tell when it’s ready.

Blackberries

In the right climate, blackberries are another plant that is crazy easy to grow. You just need to plant, water and watch it grow. Much like watermelon, they will be more difficult to get rid of than to grow in the first place. They can be invasive, so we’d recommend planting them a little further away from your garden or in a pot with a trellis (depending on the type of blackberry you have). The trailing thorn-less blackberries like to climb and the trellis helps encourage them to do that.

As far as fruit production, you will pick blackberries about every other day during the production season. I can’t say that we had an abundance of blackberries in Florida, but we definitely did when we grew them in Northern California. However, they were still easy to grow and we did have a decent harvest of fruit.

A Note About Fruit

Most fruits are not the easiest to grow, which is why our selection is pretty narrow. However, we have had some luck with strawberries and know others who have done well with raspberries.¬† Raspberries should be more plug and play than strawberries as they don’t need to be cut back for a full year like strawberries do. But both of these are decent options if you are looking for a little more variety.

Roots

Sweet Potato

Roots in general have a tendency to be easier to grow as they are not exposed to the elements. But we’ve found that Sweet Potato is the easiest to grow, especially in our tropical climate. Just a few plants will produce enough sweet potatoes for your family for months. They are also a vining plant (are you seeing a theme here?), so you will want to give them plenty of space to sprawl. Otherwise, they will take over your garden, much like watermelon.

The most difficult part about growing sweet potato is figuring out to when to pull them up. We actually dug one up too early and replanted it and it didn’t die. So, that just gives you an idea of how hardy they really are.

After the first harvest attempt, we were a little gun shy and decided to wait another month. So, after about¬† 2-3 months of growing and vining, we pulled them up to make room for more plants. It turned out that we had a huge harvest that we didn’t even know about right under the soil. It was a very pleasant surprise!

Greens

Romaine

Romaine is a super easy green to grow during the fall in full sun. We planted a lot of them from seed and bought some from seedlings as well. They have grown like CRAZY and you can start snipping baby romaine pretty much right away. They don’t require a lot of space and just need water, sun and decent soil to produce a healthy crop. We have about 10 plants and this supplies us with salad every night for dinner.

Arugula

We LOVE homegrown arugula! It’s pretty easy to grow and you can just snip the leaves off and add them to your salad. There is no real “rule” for pruning, which makes them very easy to handle. We actually cut these 100% back during hurricane Irma and they SURVIVED. Hardy? You bet!

The best part about growing your own arugula is that the flavor is a million times better than what you get in the store. It’s almost like trying a completely different green in your salad. If you like a peppery flavor, then this will add a little spice to any salad.

The only thing to worry about for lettuces in general is a bacterial infection. We had this occur and we simply cut back the infected leaves and sprayed neem oil on it and haven’t had a problem since. It’s an easy issue to resolve, but it’s better to try and control the quantity of water your are putting on the leaves of your plants. We can’t really control that here because it rains so frequently.

Herbs

Who doesn’t love a fresh herb garden for their kitchen? I know we do and we have had a lot of success with many different types of herbs. Luckily, some of the popular ones are the easiest to grow!

Rosemary

Rosemary is our top pick for the easiest herb to grow. The reason we chose rosemary first is because it is actually a challenge to kill it, during the right season. It is best to grow it in a pot separately or plant it away from other plants, as it has a tendency to take over. It’s rather like a weed in this respect.

Mint

Mint is like rosemary, in that it is a vigorous and easy-to-grow plant. You will want to keep it in a pot or tucked away from other plants as it likes to sprawl. It sends out runners and can take over other plants if you let it. We use it to flavor adult beverages like mojitos and anything with watermelon or cucumber in it. It is also wonderful when mixed with basil to make pesto. It adds a nice, refreshing flavor that isn’t too overwhelming.

Basil

While basil is not as easy to grow as the two mentioned above, it is definitely not difficult. It does best in warmer weather and needs its blossoms pinched off regularly to encourage healthy growth. It also has a tendency to get woodsy, so keeping it well snipped discourages that.

Thyme

Thyme is definitely easy to grow, as long the soil has great drainage and you keep it snipped. It has a wonderful aroma and is hearty enough to survive all summer and into the fall. Like most herbs, it is frost sensitive and needs to be moved inside during the winter.

Oregano

Oregano is another easy herb to grow. It likes to be in containers where it can spill over the edge. It’s a very pretty plant that has a great scent. It is relatively hardy and likes a good amount of sun. This is another plant that likes to be cut back, but there is not really a science to it. You just want to keep it trimmed to make sure it stays full and bushy.

Final Thoughts

All of the plants that we’ve highlighted today are low-to-medium maintenance and produce a lot of edible fruits, veggies and greens. This means that there is a lot of bang for your buck, if you plant these crops in your garden. They are also plants that we’ve grown and have had a lot of success with in the past or currently. We hope this helps narrow down what to put in your garden and as always, let us know if you have any questions! We’ll do our best to answer what we can.

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