Updated: May 21
When starting out, growing vegetables yourself can feel overwhelming. Not all vegetables are equal in their growing difficulty level. By starting with vegetables that are easy to grow in your specific climate, you will set your garden up for success! Included below is a list of the 11 easiest vegetables to grow in Canada or in other similar cool growing climates.
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For all of these seeds with the exception of zucchini, I recommend seeding directly into your garden or container where you plan to grow your plant to maturity and not starting seeds indoors.
If you are a brand new gardener and have not yet built your garden, read this for tips on where to place your vegetable garden.
If you will be growing your vegetables in containers, all of these vegetables will grow just fine in a container! Just make sure your pots are deep enough to support your plants growth. A rule of thumb for plant containers is to keep it at least as deep as the plant will grow tall. The exception to this would be peas or other vining plants.
A huge part of growing a successful vegetable garden is starting with the right soil. Read this to find out what you can do to set your soil up for vegetable gardening success!
11 Easy Vegetables to Grow in Canada
#1 - Lettuce
Lettuce is a vegetable most of us consume on a weekly bases, and when it comes to growing your own vegetables, it's one of the easiest! You will find the seeds are tiny to plant. A few simple tips for growing lettuce, direct sow (don't start indoors) into your garden in a row. I recommend rows because it can attract slugs or rot when planted too densely. I like the buttercrunch lettuce varieties as they grow quickly and can be harvested early. Romain takes longer to grow to maturity, but as with all lettuce, you can harvest leaves from the outside as it matures. Follow planting directions on your seed package. Try to sprinkle seeds lightly. If you end up with too many seeds in one spot, pull out a few once they have grown to about an inch high (this is called thinning). For more tips and tricks on growing lettuce, read this.
# 2 - Peas
Peas germinate (sprout) quickly and grow well in cool climates. Peas are easier to pick when they grow up a trellis. If you don't have a trellis, not to worry, purchase shorter bush varieties and they will be just fine. Pea seeds are large and easy to plant. Once planted they need little care besides regular watering and weeding.
# 3 - Radishes
Radishes grow to maturity rapidly and most varieties are ready to be harvested 25 to 30 days after being planted. The seeds are small but not tiny and are able to be easily spaced properly when planting. Radishes grow well in cool climates and can be planted as soon as your soil is workable. They tend to bolt (go to seed while the edible part remains very small) if you plant them in the heat of the summer. Tip: Plant in with your carrot seeds as the radishes will help space your carrots and the radishes will be all finished before your carrots get too big. For a continuous spring supply, succession seed radishes every two weeks.
# 4 - Carrots
Carrots are a favorite garden vegetable for many cool climate gardeners (myself included). The flavour of fresh garden carrots next to store bought carrots are incomparable! Don't start seeds indoors as transplanting carrots would interrupt their root development.
Carrot seeds are tiny. Choose a day with no wind to plant. Sprinkle lightly from 2 feet above soil for improved seed spacing. Consider buying seed tape to assist with proper spacing. Either way you will need to do some thinning (pulling out seedlings that are too close together) to allow sufficient spacing for your carrots to grow well. Tip: Mix carrot seeds with sugar in a salt shaker to assist with even spacing of seeds. Keep carrots weeded well for best growth. For more on growing carrots click here.
# 5 - Beans
Beans are another seed that germinate and grow rapidly with very little maintenance! Bean seeds are large and easy to plant. The trick to growing beans in cool climates is waiting until ALL risk of frost has passed. Beans grow best when the soil is warm. To encourage rapid growth, avoid watering with cold water. To speed up bean growth, soak seeds in water for 12 to 24 hours prior to planting, changing water every 6 hours.
# 6 - Spinach
Spinach grows well in cool weather but is prone to bolting in hot summer heat. Plant early in the spring. Succession plant by seeding every 2 to 3 weeks for a continuous supply. Plant on the north side of a taller plant to provide some shade for this cool weather loving vegetable. Once you see seed heads forming, harvest what you can and pull the remaining plant. Seed something else or sow more spinach in the space.
# 7 - Beets
Beets grow quickly and easily with little maintenance in cool climates. Thin seedlings according to package directions when they are about an inch tall. A bonus of growing your own beets is that you can enjoy cooked beet tops during the summer months!
# 8 - Potatoes
Potatoes are fun and easy to grow, requiring very little maintenance. If you want to grow potatoes in a container or bag, read this to find out the best varieties for doing so.
# 9 - Kale
Kale grows easily and can be harvested multiple times from the same plant. Only take 1/3 of the leaves when harvesting and your plant will continue to produce. Kale is full of nutrients and can be frozen to be used all winter long by chopping and adding to things like rice, pasta, soups or smoothies.
# 10 - Zucchini
Zucchini is the easiest of the squash family to grow in Canada or other similar cool climates! Zucchini seeds may be started indoors in peat pots 3 weeks prior to your last expected frost. (If doing this, remove the bottom of the peat pot when transplanting outdoors.) Plant one seed per pot. Zucchini can also be planted directly into your garden. Check seed packages for one that has fewer "Days to Maturity" listed as these varieties will be ready to be harvested sooner. Plant in a warm, full sun location. If you do not see bees on your zucchini blossoms, look up how to pollinate zucchini blossoms yourself.
# 11 - Onions
Onions are last on my list as they can be one of the trickier of the easy vegetables, but if you have good soil and the right conditions can require very little maintenance and produce well! The easiest way to grow onions is from onion sets (small bulbs sold specifically for planting). Onion tops can be harvested and enjoyed like green onions all summer long! Don't harvest more that 1/3 of the onion tops at a time.
Not to be forgotten, green onions grow quickly and well from seed in cool climates also!
Vegetables such as cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, squash and melons can be trickier to grow in cooler areas of Canada unless you have a greenhouse or live in one of the warmer growing zones of the country. Save those to grow once you have mastered these 11 easy to grow vegetables!
Now you are set to plant! Find out when to plant your garden outdoors here.
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