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Here are the fastest growing vegetables you can plant right now!
We are getting close to gardening season, so buy your seeds and let’s get started. Here are the eight fastest growing vegetables to in to plant in your garden.
You can also plant in containers on your patio, in long planters on your apartment balcony or you can even tuck in some vegetables among your flower and shrubbery beds.
These cool season crops can be seeded directly into the ground. Check the information on your seed packets for specific information and planting instructions.
Wait until after your last frost to sow seeds, although many of these plants will be able to withstand a light frost. It is the heavier frost that can kill these vegetables.
The 8 Fastest Growing Vegetables for Your Garden
Getting anxious for some homegrown healthy good food? Read on to discover the 8 fastest growing vegetables and get planting today.
As a sidenote, my garden is in Zone 3. You can grow any of these in any gardening zone – you may need to provide shade cover if you are in a very hot gardening zone.
25 days to maturity
Radishes are quick-growing vegetables and can be planted as soon as the snow has retreated. Radishes can be replanted every 15 days in Zone 3 until July.
You can plant marigolds beside your radishes to discourage maggots from getting into your roots of radishes.
You’ll find that winter radishes will be rather large and their flesh will be comparable to turnips.
You’ll find that radishes do prefer a light soil, but can grow with rocks in the soil, they’ll just be misshaped.
You can add some compost to regular soil to give your radishes the appropriate nutrients.
One tip for your garden – grow a few radishes at the end of every row. Because they germinate so quickly, they can be your row markers!
Plant some Lettuce
60 days to maturity
You can grow lettuce from June 1st until frost in zone 3 gardens. There are many different varieties of lettuce that grow well in this zone.
You’ll find that buttercrunch and early romaine are the two best options to plant that will grow in colder temperatures.
Lettuce can emerge within 7-10 days, meaning that you’ll want to plant small portions at a time to avoid having more lettuce than you can use.
You should grow chives or garlic between the lettuce plants to keep aphids away.
You’ll find that lettuce prefers a soil that’s rich in nitrogen so you’ll want to add some compost to the soil when planting lettuce.
When harvesting, you can either use a hand trowel to dig up a whole plant or just remove some leaves from several plants to let them keep growing.
40 – 60 days to maturity
You can grow spinach in zone 3 from early May through September. A few good companion plants to grow near spinach include celery, cauliflower, and eggplant.
Spinach is susceptible to caterpillars and aphids, so keep that in mind when looking to keep your spinach growing healthy.
Spinach grows best in soil that has a pH level of 7.0 or higher. Always keep the fertilized soil about 4-6 inches from the base of your spinach plant so you don’t burn the roots.
Keep the soil moist during growth so that the seedlings can sprout. You can thin out your spinach as the seeds germinate, as they do enjoy having space to grow.
Spinach will almost always start to bolt when the weather gets hot.
Bolting means that the spinach plant starts to overmature in an attempt to set seed.
If you can grow your spinach in the shade, that does help but plan on planting and eating Spinach early in the season.
Plant seeds again in very late summer and you will have Spinach throughout the cooler temperature of Fall.
You certainly can freeze Spinach so you can eat it during the winter time. Take a look here for how to preserve Spinach for eating later.
Grow Salad Greens
Other salad greens and microgreens you may want to grow include baby bok choy, mustard greens, pak choi, tatsoi, chinese cabbage and turnip greens. Direct seed these into your garden beds or into containers and pots.
Pick the outer leaves of these baby greens, being careful not to take too many from one plant. Let those continue to grow to become mature leaves; you will be able to take plenty of pickings of the loose leaves while allowing the plant to grow to maturity.
55 days to maturity
Cucumbers are fine to grow in zone 3 for both pickling and slicing varieties. They are more susceptible to frost though, so you may want to plant short-season varieties of cucumbers.
Since this zone has a colder climate, it may keep pollinators low, and cucumbers need pollinators to grow healthy.
Consider growing cucumbers that don’t require pollinators and have a quick growing season.
It’s also a good idea to provide some type of support for the cucumbers to grow against. A trellis works great.
The best time to plant cucumbers is between mid-June and mid-September. You may want to plant these next to radishes as radishes are an excellent companion plant to deter cucumber beetles.
You’ll need moist, well-drained soil for the best cucumber growth. You’ll want to mix in manure or compost to the soil before planting your cucumbers.
You can always start Cucumber plants in the house under some lights.
This way you can transplant into the garden and get an earlier harvest.
Here’s how we start seeds under lights in the house to get a jump on the gardening season here.
Plant Swiss Chard seeds
50 days to maturity
Not only is Swiss Chard one of the fastest vegetables to grow, it is one of the longest growing leafy greens.
Swiss chard can grow in 20 degrees Fahrenheit with mulch around them. This will help the plant retain moisture and stay protected.
This vegetable needs full sun or partial shade that gets afternoon sun for maximum growth.
There are a few good companion plants to grow near chard, such as beans, onions, and cabbage.
It’s highly recommended that you don’t plant pole beans near swiss chard. This vegetable needs rich soil that retains moisture well, hence the suggestion to have mulch around chard.
Chard really is a fantastic leafy green to grow in northern gardens. It simply does not quit!
Chard should become one of your mainstays because you can eat it all season long, even after the snow starts to fall.
And you know if you don’t really like cooked greens, grow Chard anyway.
It is super in salads and eaten on sandwiches. It’s perfect!
Want to preserve Swiss Chard?
More Fast Growing Vegetables from Seeds
Grow Bush Beans
50 days to maturity
It’s best to grow bush beans between mid-June and mid-September in zone 3 gardening areas.
We usually use Remay cover to add one or two degrees of protection. It is the cold here that will damage the bean plants.
You’ll find that good companion plants for beans include marigold, potatoes, cabbage, beets, carrots, and cucumbers.
Marigolds and potatoes will keep Mexican bean beetles away from your beans, while catnip can repel flea beetles.
Bush beans do need the sun to grow best and need a well-drained, organically rich soil. This vegetable will germinate in about one to two weeks.
Even if your soil isn’t organically rich, bush beans will grow – they just will not grow as many actual beans.
These vegetables need at least 2-3 inches of water per week, which can be gained from rainwater or watering them on your own.
If you want to preserve green beans, you can blanch and freeze them. Follow the same procedure as for leafy greens.
If you choose to can them in jars, you MUST use a pressure canner.
52 days to maturity
A very fast growing summer squash, Zucchini can be used in lots of different ways. Grill it, mash it and cook like a winter squash. Eat it raw, make jam – millions of ways to use it.
One tip for harvesting Zucchini is to check on it daily. This vegetable grows so fast it can literally get away on you.
When you’re left with huge Zucchini, you can grate and freeze them in 1 cup servings.
Then make Zucchini bread or add to winter soups. The really big ones?
Those are the ones you sneak into your neighbour’s unlocked cars.
Or let your kids use them as a baseball bat. Feed them off to your chickens, pigs, goats or sheep. Animals love them.
Read more about growing Zucchini here.
Plant Peas right in the soil
You’ve got a choice between growing edible pod or shelling peas – grow both if you like.
Peas love the cool temperatures of early Spring and are another vegetable that you can plant the seeds just as soon as you can get in the garden in Spring.
Give them a trellis or run some stringlines between Tposts. Pea plants will send out tendrils to grasp and wrap around the strings and up they grow.
Grow heirloom seed and then just leave some of the pods on the vine. Let them get nice and dry.
In September remove the pods, shell the peas out of the pod and store in a paper bag.
You won’t have to buy pea seed again next year. Just be sure to get heirloom seed!
Here’s how to save your own pea seed for next year. This article goes into more detail about how to save seed.
Read more about growing peas here.
When your peas are ready, take a look here for how to freeze peas properly so you can eat them all winter long.
So there you have it, the fastest vegetables to grow in your garden. Or grow these vegetables in pots on your deck.
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originally published March, 2020; updated May 2022