If there ever were a time to start growing your own food, now would be that time. And there is nothing more rewarding than having a quick turnaround for your hard work! Fast-growing vegetables are just what you and I need!
I live in Montana, in Zone 3, where we have about a 3-month growing season. We NEED a quick turnaround for our crops anyway and thankfully many of the options mentioned in this list will be vegetables that can be planted when it’s still cooler outside.
Corn will not be mentioned below because it has a longer growing season and I can’t plant it until the ground has warmed up in June but I heavily rely on my corn and bean crop to preserve for the winter months.
Ready to dig in? Let’s get our hands dirty with some…
Fast Growing Vegetables
After planting lettuce seeds, they will sprout in a week or less. And will continue to grow rather quickly. They will continue to grow if you harvest a few leaves off of each plant throughout their growing season.
But lettuce will bolt when it gets too hot. They are a great crop to get started in the early spring and fall months. And there are so many different varieties that you can choose from which makes it fun to have different options to add to a salad.
Up North, radishes, peas, and lettuce are some of the first treats that are ready to eat for us.
Spinach is another great option to add to your salads and to have as a nutritious addition to dinner. And they will tolerate heat longer than lettuce will. In the spring you can plant your spinach seeds a couple of weeks apart to extend your harvest.
If you cut the outer leaves, the inner leaves it will continue to produce. But if it starts to bolt and produce seeds, pick the whole plant and then start using the younger plants. Each individual spinach plant in the fall plantings will grow longer without bolting because of the cooler weather.
There are several varieties to chose from, so you can choose a spinach plant that you like the most!
This leafy vegetable is so versatile, so tasty and grows really well in the spring and hot summer months. It is packed with nutrients and can be eaten in salads and cooked. There are many different options on how to serve swiss chard in meals. And they are so beautiful with all the different color options.
You will be able to eat swiss chard in just a couple of weeks and can continue to eat them over the next 12 weeks. Use a knife to cut the stems so that the roots remain in the ground and can keep producing.
Radishes will sprout rather quickly as well. They are a great way to mark your rows of lettuce and carrots. Especially the carrots! Because carrots don’t germinate as quickly, the radishes will sprout, mark the rows and will continue to grow until you harvest them and then the seedlings of the other vegetables will be well on their way to growing their harvest.
If you like a spicy little snack or a bit of flavor added to a salad, then these will be perfect for you! They grow really fast and are always planted in our garden!
Peas are fast-growing and love the cool spring or the cool months of fall. They can be planted after the soil can be worked in the spring and will produce many sweet tasting pods. There are several different types of peas to choose from.
English peas produce the pods that are opened up and the peas are eaten out of the pod. Snow peas are a flat pea pod that is eaten whole without opening the pod. And snap peas are picked whole and the entire pod and larger peas inside are eaten.
Snap peas are our personal favorite and are delicious eaten straight from the plant or added to a salad or eaten in a stir fry. They can also be easily preserved for later eating in the winter months.
Peas will stop producing flowers when the weather warms and you pick the peas when the peas inside begin to swell but before they are too large inside the pod. They become bitter and much less sweet the larger they become. In warmer climates, plant peas in the coolest part of the year.
Peas love to climb a trellis and are a great option when you are needing quick growth in the garden!
Green beans are so delicious. We count on our green bean harvest the most because they are so easy to preserve and they are a delicious meal in the middle of winter when the snow covers the ground.
They also can produce a very large harvest in a small area. The plants will continue to produce beans if you keep picking them. Like peas, you will want to pick them before they get to “stringy” and tough. They are more tasty and enjoyable when they are picked when they are full-grown but tender.
After you plant the seeds, within a month, you will be able to begin eating the harvest.
There are several varieties of beans you can choose from as well. The bush bean, and the pole bean. The bush bean has a short, stocky stem and doesn’t need the support of a pole or trellis as the pole bean will.
If you’ve planted an heirloom variety, you can leave the beans on the plant to dry out and then harvest the seeds for the next year’s planting.
Carrots are a favorite! They are so good, sweet and tasty even with a little bit of dirt left on them. Not only do they grow rather quickly, but they are also a great option if you want to store then for the winter. They can be canned or if properly stored in a cool cellar, they can be eaten throughout the winter.
Carrots will do best in soil that is less compacted and without rocks. They need to be planted directly into the soil as soon as you can plant in the garden. And they do take a lot longer to germinate than most vegetables but it will be well worth the wait! Seedlings can be thinned if they end up being too close together. This will help the carrots to grow larger and not be choked out.
Beets are a delicious meal! So good fried in oil with a little bit of salt. And they can really well. It’s another great crop you can enjoy quickly or preserve for the winter months.
Before you plant them, soak them in water overnight so that they have a better germination rate. Even in our cold climate, I’ve never had any trouble growing them directly in the soil in the spring. I’ve never had to plant them inside but it is an option.
The beet tops can be used in salads and are delicious when they are small and tender. Pick the beetroots when they are 3-4 inches around but be careful as you pull them so as to not damage them. If the skin is damaged they will bleed red and can be very messy.
And just be prepared for red hands when cutting up and working with the beets!
Potatoes are a must in any garden! They are a low-cost item that produces a large harvest in a short amount of time. And they can even be grown in containers!
I prefer to plant a whole potato with three or more eyes on them into the ground 2-3 inches deep. The potato will sprout rather quickly and begin to produce more potatoes under the plant. These plants will flower a beautiful flower and you can begin to harvest a few potatoes when they start to flower but you will know that the plant is done growing and producing potatoes and are ready to pull up when the plant vines have turned brown.
Piling up more dirt or wood chips around the vines and leaving about 6 inches of vine above the ground at all times will encourage the plant to produce a large and bountiful harvest!
Potatoes can be kept through the winter, canned or even canned with a mixture of other vegetables to make a delicious and wholesome meal in winter.
Onion and Scallions
And onions and scallions will top off this list. Any meal can be made even more delicious with an onion in it!
Scallions are fast-growing and have a great, less pungent flavor that will be excellent in a salad. Scallions can be pulled in 10-12 weeks as “green” onions. They can be harvested when the stems are about as thick as a pencil.
Both onions and scallions do really well in the hotter months because of their shallow roots. Depending on the length of your season, you can sow a row every two weeks throughout the summer. You can harvest an onion when half of the leaves have fallen over and the outside skin has a papery feel to it.
Zucchini is another option to plant that will grow quickly and will be quite prolific! They are easy to grow and they easily grow lots of squash.
The seeds are planted directly in the soil and you will want to pick the zucchini when they are younger and smaller. They can grow to be huge sizes and the larger they get the worse they taste and the harder to manage.
But they are very easy to grow! And make a great tasting, nutritious vegetable that is great to add to bread and stir fry.
A Garden in Quick Time
A garden with all this produce will bless you and your family so much! As soon as you can, get those seeds in the ground and get that garden started! But before you decide to plant please read this information as well:
Why you should do a no-till garden
Why does my garden have weeds?
Why mulch is so very important
You can read other ideas and options as well: Veggies that grow fast