Love the idea of growing your own vegetables, but don’t have the patience to wait for months until you can enjoy your produce? There are plenty of fast-growing vegetables and herbs to plant that you’ll be picking in no time.
You can grow these in-between rows of slower-growing veggies — like cabbages, cauliflowers, or onions. All the plants listed will also be happy in a large container, such as a styrofoam box.
Microgreens are just tiny leafy greens. If they were allowed to mature, they would be lettuce, wheat, or herbs. Soak seeds overnight before planting. Fill a seed tray with moist seed-raising mix, potting mix, or coir peat, sprinkle seed such as mesclun mix over the surface and let the plants sprout and grow in the light (but shade from strong sunlight). Once the tiny plants have four or more leaves, harvest them with scissors. They crop in 7–10 days.
Note: To grow sprouts or microgreens, buy organic or untreated seeds from a nursery, health food store, or online.
A mesclun mix, good for delicious microgreens along with other soft-hearted butterhead and cos lettuces, can be planted for a quick crop of salad leaves. There are two methods: Sow seeds directly into garden beds or containers, or buy seedlings from the nursery to get a head start.
Make sowings or plantings every few weeks to keep plants coming through autumn and winter. Don’t wait for lettuces to reach full size; start eating them by picking some of the outside leaves. Harvest other leaves in 6–8 weeks.
Dwarf or French Greens
Dwarf beans only grow to about 19 inches high so they don’t require stakes or supports. Beans do best in full sun with daily watering. To aid seed germination, Colin Campbell suggests soaking the bean seeds overnight in water with a pinch of Epsom salts. Give them a boost with liquid fertilizer. Expect crops in 8–10 weeks.
Also growing at a fast pace are many of the vegetables we lump together as Asian greens. Crops such as Bok Choy and wong bok (Chinese cabbage) can be planted now for a fast harvest.
Seed can be sown directly into the spot where it will grow, but as it is fine, try mixing it together with sand or fine soil so that it spreads more evenly along the rows. This not only makes sowing easier but reduces the need to thin crops after germination. Expect crops in 8–10 weeks.
These produce food in a flash and you don’t even need a garden. If you’re short of greens and crunchy bits for a salad, sprout seeds of alfalfa in a jar on the kitchen bench. Use a sprouting jar or any glass jar with gauze over its neck. Fill the jar with water and allow it to drain so the seeds are just moist. Repeat this each day. The sprouts will crop in just 5–7 days.
Arugula and Leafy Herbs
Arugula, known as “rocket” outside the US, lives up to its name as it grows like a rocket at this time of the year. So, too, does coriander (or cilantro). Also, plant parsley and, in warm climates, basil. Plant seed now and begin to harvest in about four weeks, when the plant has established strong leafy growth.
Snow peas in particular are a fast crop to plant now. They produce soft, succulent pea pods (which you eat, pod and all) in just a few weeks. Snow peas can be grown from seed and need chicken wire or stakes to climb on.
Make plantings of snow peas, sugar snap peas, or bush peas every couple of weeks during autumn and winter for continuous picking. In cold areas, hold off planting when it’s very cold. They crop in 8–10 weeks.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.