Episode 003: 10 Easy-to-Grow Flowers and Vegetables To Plant This Spring

podcast cover with image of woman and episode text: 003: 10 easy to grow flowers and vegetables to plant this spring

episode highlights

  • Learn why zinnias, sunflowers, and nasturtiums are perfect plants for beginner gardeners to start with, and how they can add color and attract pollinators to your garden
  • Discover the versatility of easy-to-grow vegetables like zucchini, kale, and green beans, and how they can enhance your cooking and overall garden health
  • Learn which two easy-to-grow herbs I include in every garden (and the bonus herb for cool climates)
  • Find out how incorporating flowers can bring added joy and happiness to your garden, and create a space that brings you years of pleasure and satisfaction

The best flowers and veggies for beginners

Are you ready to embark on your gardening adventure but unsure of where to begin? Today, we’ve got you covered with our top 10 easy-to-grow vegetables, flowers, and herbs that will help you create a flourishing garden in no time.

From zinnias, sunflowers, zucchinis, and kale, to the benefits of growing flowers for added joy, this article guarantees you’ll walk away with a plan in place to kickstart your successful garden journey. So, grab a notebook, gather your gardening tools, and let’s get planting!

1. Zinnias

One of the easiest flowers to grow from seed, zinnias come in a wide range of colors and are excellent for attracting pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. They make excellent cut flowers, so you can enjoy their beauty both in your garden and inside your home.

2. Sunflowers

A classic garden plant, sunflowers come in a variety of styles and colors. They are fast-growing, low maintenance, and provide a pop of color and height to your garden. Sunflowers are also great for attracting pollinators and birds.

3. Zucchini

Known for their versatility and ease of growth, zucchinis are perfect for beginners. They can be used in both savory and sweet dishes, making them a valuable addition to your garden.

4. Kale

This nutrient-dense superfood is easy to grow in containers or in-ground beds. Kale is versatile and can be used in salads, smoothies, or cooked dishes.

5. Basil

A fragrant and flavorful herb, basil is perfect for use in various dishes such as pesto, pasta, and pizza. Basil plants love heat and will grow all summer long if provided with the right conditions.

6. Tomatoes

High-yielding and multi-purpose, tomatoes are a great addition to any garden. It’s best to start with a seedling for tomatoes, especially if you’re short on time.

7. Nasturtiums

These edible flowers are easy to grow and can serve as a trap crop, keeping pests away from your more valuable plants. They come in so many different colors and are attractive to pollinators.

8. Cucumbers

Cucumbers are easy to grow and can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads to pickles. They grow well in containers or in the ground and typically have low pest pressure.

9. Green Beans

These fast-growing, high-yielding plants can be grown as bush or pole beans. They are low maintenance and can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups to salads.

10. Chives

A fragrant and flavorful herb, chives can be used in various dishes and are easy to grow. It’s best to start with a seedling for chives if possible.

Bonus: Cilantro

If you’re in a cooler climate or planting during the fall or early spring, cilantro is another easy-to-grow herb that can be used in a variety of dishes.

Episode Transcript

Hello and welcome back to Organic Gardening for Beginners, where my goal is to help you plant and grow your own beautiful and productive garden, no matter what your experience level is. In this podcast, I share my tips, my resources, and some inspiration to help you get started to overcome those common barriers to gardening so that you can create a successful garden that fits your lifestyle and your budget and your time because, as we all know, we’re all busy. Today’s episode is meant to give you a plan, a to-do list, to prevent any overwhelm or getting stuck with that question of where the heck do I start? 

In this episode, I’m going to share with you my top 10 super easy-to-grow vegetables, flowers, and herbs that you can get started this spring, whether you are a brand-new gardener or you have maybe a season or two behind you. These plants are all perfect for beginners and will do a lot to add some color to your life, some flavor to your cooking, and just overall beauty and health to your garden scene. And I’ve also got a couple of tips on why I think you should include these and how you can use them to make the most of them. So by the end of the episode, you should have a plan to move forward. You should have a few or all that you decide you want to plant so that you can get started and not waste any time with analysis per analysis of what do I plant?

Oh, and one last note almost all of these can be sewn straight in the garden if you don’t want to start seeds indoors and if you don’t want to spend money buying seedlings from the nursery. There are one or two where I do recommend buying a seedling just to make it a little bit easier, but if you have the time and you want to, you can also start those ones from seed by yourself. 

All right, starting off this list are zinnias, one of my favorite flowers, super popular in the gardening world and in the cut flower world. They make excellent cut flowers and they are one of the easiest flowers you can grow from seed. The seed itself is pretty large, so they’re easy to handle and they look like little arrowheads but paper-y thin. 

They grow after all risk of frost has passed. They are a warm-season flower, so you don’t want to plant them while the weather is still too cold. They come in pretty much every color you can think of, except for blue, but shades of purple shades, of pink shades, of white, and cream. There are lots of blush and rose and salmon-type colors, which are my favorites. These are great for pollinators, for attracting pollinators, from hummingbirds to bees to butterflies. They will be all over these zinnias. So they are great to leave in the garden, but then they are also awesome to cut and bring a bouquet into your house. 

Another flower, the second one on my list, is a sunflower, probably one of the most iconic and classic garden plants to grow, similar to zinnias. You can find them in a great variety of styles, whether those are shorter dwarf plants, or super tall mammoths that grow like 10 feet tall. A huge range of colors from white to cream to pale yellow, dark yellow, burgundy, almost brown, anything to suit your preference and your garden style. They are super fast growing, very low maintenance. 

Really, the only thing you have to pay attention to with sunflowers is that they get regular water so that they can grow strong enough that especially the taller varieties can be. Their stem can be strong enough to hold up the weight, especially if you have summer windstorms. You want to make sure you have nice, sturdy plants. They provide a super pop of color and add height to your garden as long, obviously, as you’re not growing just the dwarf varieties 

And similar to zinnias, they definitely pull in the pollinators, they definitely pull in the birds. So if you particularly enjoy wildlife in your garden, then sunflowers are definitely one for you to make note of. During the season, the pollinators will be on your sunflowers to collect the pollen, to drink the nectar And then, as the sunflowers start to go to seed, if you leave those plants in your garden then the birds will come to pick through the seeds, the seed head on the top of the sunflower. 

The first veggie that I recommend number three on the list is zucchini, which, if you’ve ever had a neighbor who has gardened, it’s possible that you have been ding dong ditched with a bag full of zucchini left on your porch because they grew more than they needed. Zucchini is very well known for trying to take over your garden and just pumping out zucchini after zucchini, to the point where you say I don’t need anymore, i’m just going to dump them on the next person. I see They are super easy to grow, as with everything on this list. Their seeds are large, they look a lot like a pumpkin seed and you can plant them directly in the garden Again. After all risk of frost has passed, because these are warm-season crops, and they grow. Excuse me, there are varieties you can get that are more compact and stay like a smaller bush, and then there are other varieties that start off as a bush but then eventually start to trail out to the garden, producing more blossoms and more fruit as they vine out. So do give this one a little bit of space. Unless you specifically go with a compact variety, I’ll have varieties recommended in the show notes, as well as links to some of my favorite seed companies, such as Baker Creek and Johnny’s Zucchini. 

I really like to grow it, not only because it’s easy but because it’s just so diverse. You can use zucchini in savory dishes, like a stir fry or a pasta dish, but then you can also use it for sweet dishes, like a zucchini bread or zucchini muffins. You can freeze them and use them for later. So for a super easy grower, they are also very versatile and well worth a spot in your garden. 

Next up on the list is kale, which we all know as our wonderful superfood nutrient dense. I feel like a broken record, but again easy to grow. You can grow these in containers, which is really nice. If you are not working in an in-ground bed or you don’t have a raised bed, kale you can easily grow in a grow bag or something like a five-gallon bucket from the hardware store. Again, you can start them from seed directly in the garden, directly in your bucket, in your pot, in your garden. You can start them indoors. As with everything on the list, you can start it indoors if you want to. 

They can sometimes fall victim to aphids. That’s one thing I will say about kale. I have had better luck with some of the curly varieties, like a Russian red variety, as opposed to the super dark green. It’s called dinosaur kale or Losonado kale. If you know that you tend to have aphids in your garden, maybe from years past, then I would recommend using a curly leaf variety. For me personally, that’s where I had fewer aphid issues, as opposed to the darker kales. Kale just likes zucchini very versatile. You can use them in salads, in smoothies, you can cook with them, make kale chips, so they can be used in more ways than one, making them pretty multi-purpose. 

Next on the list is basil. Very fragrant, very flavorful, awesome, awesome to use fresh on pizzas, making pestos, in pasta dishes. These ones you can very easily find seedlings for, even outside of a nursery or a local hardware store. Grocery stores tend to have them. I know Trader Joe’s always has their little pots of basil and sometimes when I’m in a pinch and I need to plant right now, I’ve been known to get one from Trader Joe’s and then just plant it into a larger pot once I get it home, so that way it will continue producing for a lot longer than if I left it in the small original pot. 

These ones love the heat. So if you have a warm, sunny spot in your garden, put your basil there, maybe even with your zucchini, because it loves the heat too, and it will grow all summer long as long as you keep picking the leaves. Once the plant starts to go to seed, you can pick off those seed stalks and get a little more life out of your plant. But if you decide to let it go to seed, then it will bring in birds. The birds love to eat the basil seeds And before the actual seeds the bees will come in all over the flowers. I’ve never seen butterflies on basil plants, but I’m sure that they would stop by if they notice it.

Number six on my list, which goes hand in hand with basil, are tomatoes.
Now this is one where I do recommend starting with a seedling, especially if the season if you’re listening to this in real-time which, it’s mid-May, because they take a while to get going. Usually, you need anywhere from eight to 12 weeks of indoor growth for tomatoes before you plant them out into the garden, especially if you’re growing in a cooler climate where you have a shorter growing season. 

Finding a seedling from the nursery or, again, even a grocery store will most likely be a very easy task At this point in the year. You can find seedlings for smaller plants, dwarf, compact plants meant to be grown in containers. You can find seedlings for cherry tomatoes, for big slicers, for heirloom tomatoes, which tend to grow about a pound or more per tomato. So pretty much any type that you are after you can find a seedling for, and then, depending on how your tomato season growing, depending on how your tomato growing season goes, there we go. Maybe next year, you decide to start them from seed on your own, and that will really open up the door to almost any type of tomato you could want to find, from flavor to color, to growth habit, to harvest period. 

Tomatoes come in a huge, huge range, and every year it’s so fun to try out new ones. So, in any case, back to tomatoes. They will provide a very high yield, typically with the right care, and by that, I mean letting the non-compact varieties grow up a trellis, in particular. Tomatoes will climb; they’re technically a vine actually, and so providing them with a very large tomato cage or a trellis will help get the best production and health out of your plants. And they are very multi-purpose You can use them for cooking, fresh eating, use them in salads, use them in sauces. You can even throw them whole into the freezer and use them during winter if you don’t want to can them or process them in another way. 

Next up on our list, we’re going back to another flower, and this one is called nasturtium, and this is not as common of a garden flower, but it’s one of my favorites because they are so easy to grow. Even my three-year-old has planted seeds. They have kind of an almost lily pad-shaped leaf. It’s round, it’s flat, pretty large. Some of them can be as big as the palm of your hand And then the blooms themselves are these open, almost trumpet-shaped flowers. The whole plant is edible. The roots, the leaves, the seeds, the flowers themselves  Very attractive to pollinators, and they can help keep pests like aphids off of your more valuable crops. 

Say, for example, you’re growing that kale that I mentioned and that’s like your prize plant that you have in the garden because you love kale. If you plant a nasturtium nearby, then chances are the aphids are going to go for that nasturtium and leave your kale alone. This is known as a trap crop, where you are more or less trying to divert the attention of the pest away from your more valuable crops towards kind of a sacrificial plant, more or less. Nasturtiums come in all colors red, cream, yellow, orange, red and orange are the most common. I’ve got a couple of really dark red ones right now. They’re called Bloody Mary, that are this really dark burgundy color. Pretty much everything you could want, again, except blue. Blue is not a very common color in the flower world. There are some, of course. We’ll get to that in a later episode. 

Next up are cucumbers. Cucumbers are a vine. Typically (again, I feel like I keep saying this), there are some compact varieties you can grow. There has been a lot of work by seed breeders to develop varieties that suit every gardener, whether you’re looking for very fast maturing, for very compact, for the highest yield, no matter the size of the plant, chances are you can find a variety, whether it’s a vegetable or a flower. In this case, cucumbers typically will climb, so they need a trellis or space to grow out along the ground. They will yield quite a few cucumbers with minimal effort, similar to tomatoes, as long as they get regular water and warm weather. Cucumbers won’t grow in colder weather. They, like I mentioned, can be grown in containers or in the ground. And again, another multi-purpose vegetable that you can use for salads, for pickling. You can snack on them fresh. My kids raid the garden for cucumbers and tomatoes every summer, to where I hardly get any unless I specifically set some aside because they’re just so delicious to snack on straight out of the garden. 

Next up are green beans. You can grow these as bush beans or pole beans, meaning the pole beans will climb up a trellis. They are typically very fast-growing, very high-yielding. Kind of a pain in the butt to harvest because you have to really comb through, and the seed pods tend to blend in with the stems and the leaves. So not difficult, you just kind of have to pay attention. As with many other varieties on this list, you can grow them in containers, especially the bush beans, or in the ground, and they are multipurpose to be used in soups, in stews, fresh eating salads. You can roast them with, say, garlic and potatoes very delicious, and they, for me, in my experience they tend to be very low maintenance. I have not noticed many pest or disease issues with green beans. 

Next up on the list are chives, and if you’ve never grown chives before, you may have had them if you’ve had anything like an herbed butter or something like a vinaigrette on your salad. Chives look a little bit like a clump of green onions, but they are smaller and narrower around and they’ve got a slightly more, not subtle, but a gentler flavor than not as sharp as a green onion. Very fragrant, very flavorful, and great in a lot of different cuisines. And this is another one where I would recommend starting with a seedling, just because they can take a little while to germinate and get going to be a big enough plant where you can be harvesting off of them and they’ll still grow back and produce more.

Now, if it were earlier in the season, if it weren’t already mid-May, where it’s starting to warm up in a lot of places, I would have cilantro on this list. So if this is number 11, this is our little bonus recommendation here. If you are in a cooler climate or you’re listening to this, in the future, when it’s fall or earlier in the spring next year, definitely put cilantro on your list. 

Very easy to grow from seed. They are in these large, or they have large, they almost look like a peppercorn large seeds that need darkness to germinate. And then, once they do germinate, they grow very quickly And I put them on everything salads, Indian dishes, Thai dishes, Mexican dishes, it doesn’t matter, I put it on everything. I even eat it fresh out of the garden, And very low pest pressure. And then, best of all, if you let them go to seed, similar to a basil, they pull in the flowers, pull in the bees, the ladybugs. Ladybugs love cilantro in my garden, I don’t know why. And the butterflies. they’ve got these delicate little white flowers that the pollinators really seem to love. So there you go, there’s your bonus number 11. So that is all for today’s episode. 

Just to recap, we’ve got our 10 easy-to-grow vegetables, flowers, and herbs. We are starting off with zinnias, then sunflowers, zucchini, kale, basil, tomatoes, nasturtium, cucumber, green beans, and chives, and then, if it’s cool enough, cilantro is your lucky number 11. 

All of these can be grown from seed directly in the garden, as long as you sow them out once the weather has warmed up, generally about 50 degrees or warmer at night And with the exception of the tomatoes and the chives, where I do recommend starting with a seedling, if you can find one at your local nursery or even at your local grocery store.

If you’re getting value out of the show, it would be awesome if you would hit that subscribe or follow button and join me next week, where we are talking about joy, joy in the garden, and some of my tips for creating the garden that brings you joy Not something that we often talk about with gardening, but that is a huge part of being out in the garden. For me, aside from just producing veggies, growing flowers is just the happiness that it can bring you. So I have a few things to share with you on that. So I will see you next week. Bye!

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