Although vegetable gardening often requires patience, it doesn’t mean you cannot cultivate fast food. For enthusiastic and impatient gardeners who crave instant gratification, we have compiled a list of the quickest growing foods to satisfy your hunger.
1. Sunflower Shoots – 12 Days
Sunflower shoots, which are the product of very young sunflowers, may be small, but they are incredibly nutrient-dense. To ensure the best flavor, harvest them by cutting the stems once they have developed two leaves but before their “true leaves” appear, as they can become bitter as they age.
Garden Cress – 14 Days
Garden cress can be planted as soon as the soil is workable, typically in early spring, and can be ready to harvest in just two weeks. This herb is also a great choice for those with limited garden space, as a small patch measuring only 1 or 2 feet square can produce a bountiful supply of its tangy leaves.
Radishes – 21 Days
Spring radishes thrive in cool weather conditions between 50?F and 65?F, making them a perfect crop for the season. After sowing, you can expect to see leafy green shoots emerging from the soil in as little as three or four days. For a continuous harvest throughout spring and autumn, plant new seeds every week or two.
Green Onions – 21 Days
Green onions, also known as scallions, are fast-growing plants that can be repeatedly harvested throughout the growing season. When their green shoots reach a height of 6 inches, they are ready for the initial round of harvesting.
Tatsoi – 25 Days
Tatsoi, a type of low-growing mustard green, adds a delightful flavor to salads and soups. You can harvest the baby tatsoi leaves when they are 4 inches long or wait for the full 40-day maturity for the tatsoi to reach its full size.
Lettuce – 30 Days
Lettuce is a cool-season crop that thrives in temperatures ranging from 60?F to 70?F, making it perfect for early spring and late summer planting. Among the five lettuce types, such as loose-leaf, cos, crisphead, butterhead, and stem, leaf lettuce varieties such as green leaf and red leaf are the easiest to grow and can tolerate hot weather well. To ensure a steady supply of fresh lettuce, sow seeds every 14 days.
Spinach – 30 Days
Spinach is a robust and resilient vegetable that can withstand temperatures as low as 15?F, making it an excellent cold-weather crop. You can plant spinach as soon as the ground thaws and start harvesting the outer leaves as it grows. For a continuous supply of spinach, you can sow new seeds every two weeks. However, make sure not to wait too long to harvest as the leaves may turn bitter once the plant matures.
Arugula – 30 Days
Arugula seeds can be planted right after the spring thaw since they germinate well in cooler soil. To ensure a continuous harvest, plant new seeds every two to three weeks.
Kale – 30 Days
Kale is a perennial plant that can be harvested continuously throughout the growing season, thanks to its “cut-and-come-again” nature. Once the plant reaches a height of around 2 inches, you can begin to harvest its young and tender leaves. However, it is important to avoid picking the central bud, as this will allow the plant to continue growing and producing.
Bok Choy – 30 to 45 Days
Plant bok choy, also called pak choy and Chinese cabbage, during the cool seasons of spring and fall. You can harvest baby leaves after just one month, or wait a couple more weeks for full-sized bok choy heads to develop.
Turnips – 30 to 55 Days
When growing turnips for their large bulbs, they are typically ready to harvest in less than two months. However, gardeners may also choose to pluck the turnips from the soil early to enjoy their tender, sweet, and mild-tasting roots. Additionally, once the turnip greens reach a diameter of about 2 inches, they can be topped and added to fresh salads.
Also read: How To Grow Cucumbers In Pots & Containers – Grow Cucumbers Anywhere
Beets – 35 to 60 Days
Red beet cultivars are a versatile vegetable, offering both edible greens and roots. After sowing, the greens can be harvested in as little as a month. It’s important to avoid taking too many leaves from each plant, as this can affect root growth. After about a month, the roots will begin to emerge from the soil, and the entire plant can be harvested.
Zucchini – 40 to 50 Days
A single zucchini plant can yield a bountiful harvest, producing between 6 to 10 pounds of fruit each season. When zucchini starts to flower, it takes only 4 to 8 days for the fruits to be ready for harvesting. For a quick and fruitful harvest, consider planting varieties such as “Eight Ball”, “Seneca”, “Gold Rush”, or “Spacemiser”.
Bush Beans – 40 to 55 Days
Bush beans are an excellent option for novice gardeners due to their low maintenance and ease of growth. Unlike pole beans, they don’t need staking or trellising and can spread up to two feet. For a continuous harvest, plant new bush bean seeds every two weeks.
Broccoli Rabe – 40 to 60 Days
Rapini, also known as broccoli rabe, is a member of the turnip and mustard families and is not a true broccoli. This vegetable has leafy shoots with a bunch of green buds on thick stems, and all parts of the plant are edible. You can add it raw to salads, sauté with garlic and oil, or boil in soups. To get a quicker harvest, choose “Quarantina” or “Sessantina” varieties.
Swiss Chard – 45 Days
Swiss chard, a relative of beets, can be harvested continuously throughout the season by cutting off the outer leaves when they are young and tender, usually around 3 inches long. Besides using the fresh leaves in salads, the stems can be cut from the leaf and prepared similarly to asparagus.
Baby Carrots – 50 Days
Carrot cultivars such as “Little Finger” and “Thumbelina” are smaller in size and grow faster compared to other varieties. Due to their short stature, they can be conveniently grown in a container garden.
Cucumber – 50 Days
To avoid bitterness, it is advisable to harvest cucumbers when they are still young and well before they turn yellow. To increase productivity, choose faster-growing varieties such as “Bush Crop,” “Straight 8,” “Sweet Success,” “Bush Pickle,” “Carolina,” and “Calypso.” Remember to frequently harvest cucumbers as leaving them on the vine can reduce plant productivity.
19. Carrots – 50 to 80 Days
Carrots are a popular root vegetable that can take some time to mature, but are well worth the wait. They prefer cool temperatures and sandy soil, and should be sown about three weeks before the last frost date in the spring.
While baby carrots can be harvested as early as 50 days after sowing, full-sized carrots take about 70 to 80 days. To ensure a continuous harvest, plant new seeds every two weeks.
20. Peas – 60 Days
Peas are a cool weather crop that are often planted in early spring, but can also be grown in the fall. They prefer well-draining soil and cooler temperatures, and can be sown directly in the ground or started indoors and transplanted.
Most pea varieties take about 60 days to mature, and can be harvested when the pods are plump but still tender. To keep the plants productive, pick the pods regularly and do not allow them to become overripe.
21. Cauliflower – 60 to 100 Days
Cauliflower is a cool weather crop that is typically planted in early spring or late summer. It prefers rich, well-draining soil and consistent moisture.
Depending on the variety, cauliflower can take anywhere from 60 to 100 days to mature. Once the heads reach a desirable size, they can be harvested by cutting the stem just below the head.
22. Tomatoes – 60 to 80 Days
Tomatoes are a warm weather crop that require full sun and well-draining soil. They can be started from seed indoors or planted as seedlings in the garden after the last frost date.
Most tomato varieties take about 60 to 80 days to mature, but this can vary depending on the cultivar and growing conditions. Once the fruits are plump and firm, they can be harvested by gently twisting them off the vine.
23. Bell Peppers – 70 to 90 Days
Bell peppers are a warm weather crop that prefer well-draining soil and full sun. They can be started from seed indoors or planted as seedlings in the garden after the last frost date.
Depending on the variety, bell peppers can take anywhere from 70 to 90 days to mature. They can be harvested when they are fully grown and have turned their characteristic color, such as green, red, or yellow.
24. Pumpkins – 75 to 120 Days
Pumpkins are a warm weather crop that prefer well-draining soil and plenty of space to sprawl. They can be started from seed indoors or planted directly in the ground after the last frost date.
Depending on the variety, pumpkins can take anywhere from 75 to 120 days to mature. They can be harvested when the skin has hardened and turned a deep, rich color.
25. Watermelons – 70 to 100 Days
Watermelons are a warm weather crop that prefer well-draining soil and consistent moisture. They can be started from seed indoors or planted as seedlings in the garden after the last frost date.
Most watermelon varieties take about 70 to 100 days to mature. They can be harvested when the underside of the fruit turns from white to yellow and the stem begins to dry out.