Lawn & Garden Gardening

The Unkillable Garden: 15 Veggies and Herbs That Will Thrive in Your Space

Plagued with a black thumb? Do you fear that the produce section at your local grocery store is as close to fresh as you’ll ever get? Take heart. Whether you have unlimited space, a generous raised bed, or even just a patio or balcony, garden-fresh food can be within your grasp with these 15 easy-to-grow herbs and veggies. Your thumb is about to get a bit greener.

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'Bright Lights' Swiss Chard

As the name implies, ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard is not only beautiful to look at, but also tasty and nutritious. Unlike other leafy greens, this one is slow to go to seed (if it does at all) and highly versatile. Add it to soups and salads for a healthy kick, work it into pasta dishes, or sauté it with salt and pepper for a simple side. You can sow Swiss chard seeds directly in the ground in a location that receives full sun, two to three weeks before the last spring frost. Available from; $5.19 for 100 seeds.

'Easter Egg' Radishes

Crisp and mild tasting, ‘Easter Egg’ radishes are fun for the whole family. They are pretty, with shades of red, purple, and cream, and they’re great for instant gratification, taking just three to four weeks from sowing to harvest. Sow seeds directly in the ground or in containers in full sun, two to six weeks before the last spring frost. They can be sown again in late summer when the soil begins to cool for a fall harvest. Available from; $4.19 for 300 seeds.

Related: 8 Reasons Not to Use Pesticides in Your Yard and Garden

'Emerald Towers' Basil

Suitable for containers and in-ground beds, ‘Emerald Towers’ basil maintains a tight growth habit at just 8 to 12 inches wide and up to two feet tall. Slow to flower, this Genovese-flavored basil allows for continuous harvest. Direct sow in a sunny spot once soil has warmed. Available from PanAmerican Seed in 2020.

'Patio Pride' Pea

Here’s a tip: Any seed variety with “patio” in the name is suitable for small-space gardening—and this pea is no exception. Peas love cool weather and can tolerate a few light frosts. Direct sow in full sun approximately one month before your region’s frost-free date. Tender, sweet pods take just 40 days from sowing to maturity, making ‘Patio Pride’ one of your first spring harvests. Available from; $3.29 for 50 seeds.

'Seychelles' Pole Bean

Growing to a height of seven to nine feet, ‘Seychelles’ requires some support but is equally at home in a container or an in-ground bed. This fast-growing stringless bean produces tender five- to six-inch pods and can be direct sown in full sun after the soil has warmed and the danger of frost has passed. Available from; $5.19 for a two-ounce packet of seeds.

Related: 10 Tips for Planning a Raised Garden Bed

'Geisha' Garlic Chives

Sprinkled over a baked potato or added to soups and salads, this is the perfect edible ornamental. Strappy green leaves in spring give way to delicate white globes later in the season—and the plant is a pollinator magnet! Direct sow at any time from spring through summer, either in the ground or in containers placed in full sun. Plant chives along the edge of a garden bed—they’re excellent deterrents for rabbits and other garden pests—and they’re perennial in Zones 3 through 9. Available from; $4.19 for 250 seeds.

'Bossa Nova' Zucchini

Silvery patterned leaves, delicate sweet flesh, and a compact growth habit make this squash ideal for smaller spaces. The plant produces fruit earlier and for a longer time than other varieties. Direct sow these seeds in full sun after danger of frost has passed. Available from; $3.95 for 20 seeds.

Related: 50 Plants That Thrive in Any Yard

'Roulette' Habanero Pepper

Looks can be deceiving, especially when it comes to something as notoriously hot as a habanero pepper. Case in point: ‘Roulette’ has all the characteristics of the habanero, minus the heat. Early production and a prolific yield mean you’ll have heatless habaneros all summer. Sow seeds indoors six to eight weeks before you plan to put them outside, then plant them outdoors in full sun. Available from; $16 for 100 seeds.

'Dukat' Dill

Sauces, dips, salads, pickles, and fish will all get a flavor boost from this hardy herb. This dill, with its blue-green leaves, holds longer than other varieties and is at home in containers or in the ground. Direct sow seeds in full sun in early spring, then continue sowing every few weeks for continuous harvest. Dill is great for pollinators and is one of the host plants for the black swallowtail butterfly. Available from; $2.95 for one packet of seeds.

'Sandy' Lettuce

Frilly dark leaves with a sweet taste and excellent disease resistance make this mounded lettuce a winner. ‘Sandy’ is slow to bolt when temps start to climb and will not turn bitter in the heat, which distinguishes it from many lettuce varieties. Direct sow in full or part sun in containers or in the ground in early spring once soil can be worked. Available from; $2.95 for 1000 seeds.

'Mountain Rouge' Tomato

Cold-climate gardeners will love this tomato! A new variety available from Jung Seed in 2020, ‘Mountain Rouge’ is a gorgeous pink beefsteak with excellent disease resistance and a fondness for cooler temperatures, where it has fruited heavily in trials. Sow seeds indoors six to eight weeks before you plan to put them outside in full sun. ‘Mountain Rouge’ is an indeterminate variety, which means it will continue to grow, flower, and fruit until the seasons change; it can reach great heights and will require staking. Available from; $13 for 100 seeds.

Sweet Mint

Change up your sweet tea with a minty simple syrup or enjoy a refreshing mojito with ingredients pulled straight from your garden. Be forewarned: Sweet mint and other members of the mint family lack manners and will spread if not controlled; the plant is best grown in containers in full sun. Watch for butterflies and bees, as mint flowers are pollinator magnets. Available from; $4.98 per plant.

'Saladmore Bush' Cucumber

This cuke does double duty, perfect for harvesting small to make pickles or later in the season to slice and serve. As long as you’re picking, it’ll keep producing. ‘Saladmore’ does well in the ground or in containers in full sun and has excellent disease resistance. Available from; $6.29 for 30 seeds.

'Pretty N Sweet' Pepper

Compact 18-inch plants produce multicolored, highly ornamental—but totally edible—peppers throughout the growing season, earlier and in greater quantity than other peppers. Pick peppers weekly to encourage continued fruiting. Start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before you plan to set them outside. These beauties are perfect for containers or for sitting front and center in the garden in full sun. Available from; $5 for 100 seeds.

'Sun Sugar' Cherry Tomato

These very sweet pop-in-your-mouth tomatoes appear early in the growing season. Despite the fruit’s thin skin, cracking is rarely an issue and fruiting is prolific on this indeterminate variety, but it does require staking. Sow seeds indoors six to eight weeks before you plan to set them outside in full sun. Available from; $4.98 for one plant.

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