6 Speedy Vegetables

Six crops if you have both the urge to garden and a need for speed.

February 20, 2014

While gardening tends to be a patient process that can't be hurried, some vegetables reach harvest size more rapidly than others. Besides getting you to salads sooner, quick crops are good choices for inclusion in a children's garden, serving up some positive reinforcement along the way to ripe tomatoes and lessons on the rewards of patience. Here are six crops to plant if you have both the urge to garden and a need for speed.


21 days for baby leaves


Easy to grow and quick to harvest, arugula adds a distinctive, nutty, aromatic note to salads. Also called salad rocket or roquette, arugula grows easily from seed and may be planted in window boxes or containers as well as in a garden bed. Garden centers and nurseries sometimes offer starter plants of arugula.

Learn how to grow arugula and other salad greens.

Photo: Rodale Images

Photo: Rob Cardillo

'Cherry Belle' radish:

22 days for ¾- to 1-inch-round red roots

Most of us are familiar with the round red radishes that are found in every supermarket. There are also larger-rooted winter radishes that ripen later and can be stored longer. For your first radish experience, plant those small round red ones—they're a snap to grow.

Radish growing is a snap. Try it out!

'Black Seeded Simpson' lettuce:

28 days from seed to salad

There are two types of lettuce—loose-leaf varieties and heading varieties such as the iceberg, romaine, and Boston lettuce found in supermarkets. Leaf lettuce grows as a loose clump of leaves. In head lettuce, the central leaves gather together to form compact heads. Both kinds of lettuce need similar growing conditions, but loose-leaf varieties such as 'Oak Leaf' and 'Salad Bowl' are the easiest to grow. If you're new to gardening, grow leaf lettuce.

Want to grow lettuce? Start here.

Photo: Patrick Montero

Photo: Patrick Montero


35-40 days for baby leaves

Unlike many other vegetables, spinach will grow in partial shade (an area that receives direct sunlight for 3 to 6 hours a day, or lightly dappled sunlight all day) as well as in full sun.

More hints at growing delicious spinach.

'Contender' bush beans:

49 days for stringless, 6- to 8-inch pods

Versatile in the kitchen and easy to grow, beans belong in every garden. Try an heirloom variety or two for especially great flavor. Grow snap, or string, beans for their long, slender pods and pick them before the seeds inside mature. Other varieties are grown for the plump seeds that grow inside the pods. Some of these shell beans, such as limas, are eaten fresh, while black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, and others may be dried for long-term storage.


Growing beans is quite rewarding. Grow a few varieties.

Photo: Rob Cardillo

Photo: Lee Leckey

'Sugar Ann' snap peas:

56 days to sweet, edible 2½-inch pods

These are one of the great treats of the spring garden, and once you grow your own peas you too will eagerly await shelling the first harvest of green (also called garden) peas or popping the first sugar snap pea right into your mouth when it comes off the vine. Peas are among the earliest vegetables ready for picking each year.

Grow a great garden snack!

Excerpted from Rodale's Basic Organic Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Healthy Garden. Check it out for more fast growing vegetables, 6 different ways to make raised beds, 100 easy-care plants, and more!