11 Edible Plants That Grow Fast [Healthy & Yummy!]

Green lettuce growing in the vegetable garden, 11 Edible Plants That Grow Fast [Healthy & Yummy!]If you enjoy healthy, fresh food, then you will love harvesting homegrown produce from your yard. Several fast-growing plant varieties produce hardy vegetables within just weeks of sowing seeds.

Check out our list of edible plants. We have included ideal growing conditions, harvesting tips, and serving suggestions for each vegetable to help you prepare a backyard garden and pick-out delicious varieties. 

1. Lettuce

Lettuce, or lactuca sativa, is a leafy vegetable that grows well in any USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. Leaf colors vary depending on the variety, from lighter to darker shades of green, yellow, and red. Leaf texture and head density also vary, with some compact and crimped varieties, while others are loose and wavy.  

Growing conditions: 

  • Full sun to partial shade.
  • Temperature range: 45°F – 80°F.
  • Nitrogen-rich soil with a pH of 6 to 6.8.
  • Frequent, light watering.
  • Harvest within 30 – 70 days.

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Plant lettuce in succession (10-14 days) to harvest from early spring through late autumn. Pick individual leaves for continued production, or harvest the entire head to stop growth.

Eat lettuce raw as a salad or use to add a crisp bite to sandwiches and edible garnishes.

2. Microgreens

Microgreens are sprouted from a wide variety of seeds, such as radish, alfalfa, chia, and bean. Typically grown indoors in containers, microgreens do well in any USDA Plant Hardiness Zone.

Growing conditions: 

  • Full sun.
  • Temperature range: 65°F to 85°F.
  • High humidity; rinse daily, and keep covered.
  • No soil.
  • Harvest within 5 to 7 days.

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Seed variations will produce different flavorings of crisp microgreens, from sweet to slightly spicy. Add to salads, sandwiches, and omelets.

Check out our blog, “How to Grow Microgreens Indoors.” 

3. Radishes

Radishes or raphanus raphanistrum, are root vegetables that grow well in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 2 – 11. Round roots can grow up to 1-inch in diameter or 3-inches oblong. Tall leafy greens are edible. Radish varieties range in colorful shades of white, red, yellow, orange, and purple.

Growing conditions:

  • Full sun.
  • Temperature range: 50°F to 65°F
  • Nitrogen-rich soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7. 
  • Water moderately.
  • Harvest within 21 days (spring & winter varieties).

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Annual and biennial varieties of radishes are available. Radishes stop growing after harvest because you pull up the root. Cut greens at the base of the stem.

Radishes have a zesty, spicy flavor. Eaten raw, they can be sliced into a salad, ceviche, or coleslaw. You can also pickle radishes. 

4. Arugula 

Arugula or euca vesicaria is a leafy vegetable that grows well in all USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. It goes by the other names rucola and rocket. Slender, branching leaves (4 to 6 inches) vary in color from light to dark green, some varieties having red stems.

Growing conditions: 

  • Full sun to light shade. 
  • Temperature range: 40°F to 65°F
  • Soil pH of 6 to 7. 
  • Keep continually moist, not saturated.
  • Harvest within 21 to 35 days.

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Because it grows continuously through the season, annual arugula leaves can be picked individually or snipped as bunches at the stem.

Described as having a pungent flavor ranging from peppery to bitter, arugula can be used to enhance other foods. Add to a mixed green salad, toss onto pizza or pasta, or stack onto sandwiches.

5. Spinach 

Spinach or spinacia oleracea is a leafy vegetable that grows well in all USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. Triangularly shaped leaves are dark green. Somewhat bushy varieties can grow to heights of 1-foot tall. Climbing vine varieties are easily trained onto a trellis. 

Growing conditions:

  • Full sun to partial shade.
  • Temperature range: 45°F to 75°F.
  • Keep continually moist, not saturated.
  • Fertilized soil with a pH of 7.
  • Harvest within 30-45 days.

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It is an annual plant that continually grows to be harvested throughout the season. Pick individual leaves, or snip bunches by the stems.

Eat raw as a salad or sautéed as a side dish. Spinach is also a healthy complement when added to baked goods, omelets, and casseroles. 

6. Baby Carrots

Carrots or daucus carota are root vegetables that grow well in all USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. These elongated taproots have a conical shape. Fully matured, roots range in length from 2-inches to 21-inches. Colorful carrot varieties are grown in shades of orange, yellow, white, and purple. T greens can also be eaten.

Baby carrots are simply immature carrots, harvested early. Otherwise, baby carrots can be genetically modified to grow within a specific size range, such as the Caracas hybrid variety.

Growing conditions: 

  • Full sun.
  • Temperature range: 60°F to 70°F.
  • Water frequently; irrigate dry soil.
  • Low nitrogen soil with a pH of 6.3 to 6.8.
  • Harvest between 90-120 days.

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Either annual or biennial, carrots stop growing when the root is harvested from the ground. Cut green tops at the base of the stem.

Eat sweet carrots raw as a snack, added to a salad, or grated into a coleslaw. Cooked carrots can be roasted, grilled, or steamed to be served as a side dish. You can also pickle carrots. Add greens to soups, salads, and casseroles.

7. Cucumbers

Cucumbers or cucumis sativus is a vine grown vegetable (although bush varieties exist) that does well in all USDA Hardiness Zones. Climbing vines develop hearty, broad leaves and yellow flowers. Cucumbers are elongated vegetables, up to 24-inches long, with multiple shades of green colored peels.

Growing conditions:

  • Full sun.
  • Temperature range: 66°F to 71°F.
  • Water frequently.
  • Fertilized soil with a pH of 6.8 to 7.
  • Harvest within 55 to 60 days.

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This annual can be harvested continually throughout the growing season. Cucumbers are best served either raw or pickled. The entire vegetable (peel, pulp, and seeds) can be eaten.

8. Beets/Beet Greens

Beets or beta vulgaris are a root vegetable that grows well in all USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. Both the bulbous taproot and leafy greens are edible. Beets can grow between 2-inches and 6-inches in diameter and come in color varieties of purple, red, yellow, and orange.

Growing conditions:

  • Full sun.
  • Temperature range: 50°F to 80°F.
  • Keep continually moist, but not saturated.
  • Permeable soil with a pH of 6 to 7.
  • Harvest within 55-65 days.

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Annual beets stop growing when the root is harvested from the ground. Cut the greens at the base of the stem.

Beets can be eaten raw, added to salads or versatility cooked by roasting, steaming, and grilling. You can also pickle beets. Use greens for salads and soups.

9. Bush Beans

Bush beans or phaseolus vulgaris include a wide variety that grows well in any USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. A flowering plant with green leaves, bush beans grow between 1 and 2 feet tall and generate pink, purple, or white flowers before producing a bean pod. Beans are incredibly variable in color, with pods between 3 to 6 inches long, producing several beans in each.

Growing conditions:

  • Full sun.
  • Temperature range: 60°F to 80°F.
  • Keep continually moist, but not saturated.
  • Inoculated soil with a pH of 6 to 6.8.
  • Harvest within 55 days.

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Annual bush bean varieties include Bush BlueLake, Roma II, Golden Rod, California Red Kidney, and Lima. Plant in succession (14 days) to yield bush beans throughout the growing season. 

Depending on the variety of bush bean, you can eat the pod. Beans are delicious, either raw or cooked. Some varieties of bush beans are meant to be dried for preservation.

10. Summer Squash

Summer squash or cucurbita pepo is a bush grown vegetable that does well in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3-13. Broad-leaved, flowering plants generate bright yellow blossoms that are also edible. Summer squash varieties can be either gourd-shaped or elongated, with a shiny peel colored yellow or green.

Growing conditions:

  • Full sun.
  • Temperature range: 65°F to 95°F.
  • Water frequently.
  • Fertilized soil with a pH of 5.8 to 6.8.
  • Harvest within 50 to 55 days.

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Pluck summer squash from the plant when still tender, slightly immature. You can harvest continually throughout the growing season.

Varieties of summer squash include Yellow Squash, Scalloped Squash, and Zucchini. These vegetables can be eaten raw (peel, pulp, and seeds), or cooked by roasting, grilling, or steaming.

11. Green Onions

Green onions or allium are also known as scallions and spring onions. They grow well in USDA Hardiness Zones 2-13. Green onions are essentially immature onions of several varieties. Small, round bulbs produce lush green, hollow shoots. 

Growing conditions: 

  • Full sun.
  • Temperature range: 55°F to 75°F. 
  • Water frequently.
  • Fertilized soil with a pH of 6 to 7. 
  • Harvest within 75 to 100 days (fully matured onion).

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Biennial plants, young green onions are typically harvested annually. Premature onion bulbs can be harvested to lie dormant through the winter and replanted the following season.

Raw green onions are a zesty garnish for salads, soups, and sauces. Sautéed green onions are a tasty addition to omelets, sauces, and casseroles. Check out our blog post on How to Grow Green Onions Indoors.

Now that you know about several types of edible plants start sowing seeds to enjoy your own, rewarding vegetable garden.

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