As a gardener in Ohio, there are several crops I have had success growing over the years. Many of them grow successfully with lots of tender loving care. A few of them grow well without much attention or extra care. Here are what I find to be super quick and easy to grow in my Ohio garden (zone 6)
What is an Easy Growing Crop?
An easy growing crop, in my opinion, is one that grows fairly quickly and abundantly. Additionally, it mustn’t require much attention, i.e. specific watering schedules, special pruning, bug or diseason protection. Let’s face it, fussy plants that take an entire season to grow and need extra attention, can make gardening feel daunting to a beginner gardener.
As a beginning gardener, I remember waiting for what felt like an eternity to start harvesting from my garden. Those tomatoes are definitely worth the wait, however, getting some quick and easy wins in the garden can make that wait much more tolerable!
Easiest Things to Grow in the Ohio Garden
- Green beans
Beans are probably the fastest sprouting veggie in my garden every year. It is my favorite thing to plant with the kiddos because typically within 3-4 days, the seeds sprout and that is very exciting for them. Beans are also fairly fool proof and germinate at high percentages year after year.
Beans yield large harvests pretty quickly. With only 6-7 plants, we had fresh greens beans as a side dish with dinner at least twice per week all summer. They also will continue producing for several weeks until they slow down.
Lettuce is a great crop to grow first thing in the summer (or even the end of spring). There are several different varieties of lettuce but most prefer cooler temperatures. This makes it perfect for growing first thing in the summer before the major heat waves hit. Heat-tolerant varieties exist, as well, so you can enjoy lettuce from your garden all summer long.
Lettuce is a “cut-and-come-again” plant. This means you can harvest the outer leaves and cut it down, almost to the ground, and then it will grow more leaves back within a few weeks. When planting lettuce, you can fit a lot of plants into a small area if you plant to harvest frequently. Lettuce will expand out to the large heads of lettuce like you see in grocery stores, if it has the room to expand.
Cucumbers just taste like early summer for me! I look forward to fresh cucumbers every year, more than most anything else in the garden (except tomatoes… nothing can beat a garden fresh tomato). Cucumbers have always grown so abundantly for me. Just a few seeds sown under a trellis yields pounds and pounds of fresh produce within a few short weeks! Last year, I planted about 10 seeds under a trellis and had more cucumbers than I knew what to do with!
My cucumbers grow fast and I never have to do any maintenance to make sure I get a harvest. They tend to produce abundantly until the heat of summer really sets in (about August here in Ohio). The beauty of this is that it is perfect timing for a second planting to ripen as the weather begins to cool off in September!
We love to use our cucumbers in salads, on a veggie tray, fermented into pickles, in water for a refreshing flavor, canned as relish, sweet pickles, and dill pickles, and of course, diced up with fresh cherry tomatoes and drizzled with oil and vinegar! If your harvest is too much for your family to consume, consider sharing or selling your extras with family, friends, or your community. Read more here about the may ways I save money on my grocery budget with my garden every year.
Herbs are incredibly versatile! They add SO much flavor and freshness to even the simplest of meals. I love to grow basil, parsley, dill, cilantro, chives, and several others. Cilantro is finicky sometimes, but everything else will grow with little to no effort from me! Basil especially is extremely fast growing and seems to love any kind of weather.
Nothing elevates a dish more than a sprinkle of fresh herbs on top. I will put parsley and chives on just about anything for that fresh pop. Basil pairs well with almost any Italian style dish and several Asian flavors too! Cilantro is a great addition to most Mexican, Tex-Mex, and Asian meals.
Zucchini and Summer Squash
I have found the absolute easiest plant to grow in my zone 6a, central Ohio garden, is zucchini. Zucchini and other similar summer squash varieties have always produced large quantities in my garden. They are always one of the first things that come to maturity in the early summer months.
Not only do the zucchinis produce large quantities on a short timeline, they also are not bothered much by pests. Don’t be fooled, the squash bugs find them eventually, however, I usually don’t see any squash bugs until the later months of the summer.
Succession sowing is the process of sowing multiple plants for a continual harvest after one plant has died/finished producing/gets overrun with pest/etc. The process for squash might be planting the first group, then waiting 4 weeks and sowing another group, so on and so forth for as long as you want a harvest. Similarly, like I mentioned above, cucumbers will produce until it gets consistently hot. Then after they die off, you can rip out the plants and sow another batch that will be ready to produce again as the heat tapers off toward the Fall season.
Many bugs and pests have a season in the garden. They typically come in, reproduce, destroy your plants, and then move on. If you can work around them or just let them destroy one group while you have a second succession waiting, you might actually be able to get a full season of harvests!
I hope this gives you some inspiration to get out and plant some delicious veggies in your garden. All the crops listed above are great for direct sowing as the freezing temperatures go away. I will absolutely be planting all of these easy-to-grow crops in my Ohio garden this summer! If you are ready for the next step, check out my article on starting seeds indoors. This is a great resource for starting seedlings and being able to harvest those longer season crops like tomatoes and peppers.
If you are completely new to gardening, I highly suggest this article on growing zones, frost dates, and warm vs. cool season crops. It will give you an idea of what to plant in each part of the growing season.
If you find yourself in the opposite corner of the United States, check out this article on easy to grow crops in the Southwestern states!
I hope you enjoyed this peek into Life at Metzger Acres!