Top Ten Fast Growing Vegetables

picture of string beans, a very fast growing vegetable

Fast food continues to define the age. Get in, get the food, get out as quickly as possible remains the tacit motto of many consumers and restauranteurs.

Contrast the garden culture with the fast food culture. Gardening commonly gets labeled as a year long enterprise consisting of planning, planting and harvesting seasons. Gardeners often wait long days until the so called fruits of their efforts are ready for the table.

The long wait for fresh food need not extend to months. There are more than a handful of vegetables that can go from seed to plate in less than two months. Here’s a list of the top ten fastest growing vegetables for gardeners in a hurry.

  • Bush and Snap Beans: 50 to 60 days from seed to harvest. Harvest them as soon as the pods are visible and soft.
  • Cucumbers: 50 to 65 days from seed to harvest. Cucumbers can be harvested during most development stages. The longer they grow, the larger they grow.
  • Greens: (arugala, mizuna, tatsoi, pak choy) 35 to 45 days from seed to harvest.
  • Kohlrabi: 45 to 55 days from seed to harvest.
  • Lettuces: 45 to 85 days from seed to harvest. Harvest can occur for leaf lettuces as soon as outer leaves are 4–6 inches long.
  • Onions: 40 to 55 days from sets to harvest.
  • Radishes: 25 to 30 days from seed to harvest. Without a doubt, the fastest growing vegetable. Don’t forget them, they remain in prime condition only a short time.
  • Spinach: 40 to 45 days from seed to harvest. Spinach is harvested by cutting off the entire plant at the soil line anytime after the plant has 6–8 leaves.
  • Summer Squash: 40 to 55 days from seed to harvest.
  • Turnips: 30 to 55 days from seed to harvest.

In a hurry to harvest tomatoes? No need to worry. Tomatoes usually fruit anywhere from three to six weeks after they flower. Purchasing mature, flowering tomato plants allows the gardener sufficient time to transplant them into the garden.

Impress your friends and family by timing the quick harvest with the rest of the salad vegetables listed here.

Growing Onions

picture of an onion growing in the garden
In terms of popularity, fresh onions rank at the top of the American fresh vegetable preference list. Along with tomatoes and lettuce, onions fresh onions top many an American sandwich or salad. While a small portion of the annual onion harvest goes to market in a dehydrated form, fresh onions remain the market’s most popular product.

Onion popularity also extends to many back yard gardens because the Allium genus provides a variety of edible plants. Chives, garlic, leeks, onions and shallots all call the genus home. Attentive gardeners often experiment with onion color, bulb size and taste.

Types of onion choices available vary from place to place. Generally onions get categorized in terms of their adaptation to daylight. From that starting point, four types of onions are commercially available to gardeners:

  • short-day
  • intermediate
  • long-day
  • day-neutral
A variety of yellow, white and red onions fall into each category.
or red skin or flesh. Choosing onions comes down to taste. Because they add a sparkle of color to a meal, red onions are very popular in salads.

Geographical considerations also play a part in onion seed choices. Short-day varieties adapt well to southern gardens with less daylight and long-day varieties adapt well to northern gardens with more daylight.

Onions adapt to many types of soil in the 6.0-6.5 pH level range, as long as the soil receives good moisture that drains easily. They can be planted from seeds, sets or bulbs. Seeds are the least expensive alternative and they can be planted indoors and transplanted, or sown directly into the soil after the final frost. If the onions have been grown from seed, thinning the row of young plants in three to four inches of space between them allows for maximum bulb development.

Organic Tip: Recent research suggests that applications of the tried and true organic fertilizer, animal manure, increases crop yields.

Pest Management

The most common insect problems are onion thrips and onion maggots. Signs of onion thrips include leaves with silver
streaks early, eventually turning the leaves yellow and brown.

The most common disease problem is white rot. Signs of white rot include white, fuzzy growth on leaves and the bulbs are soft and watery.

Growing Radishes

picture of a radish growing, a very fast growing vegetable
Cultivated by world gardeners throughout history, radish appeal to many American gardeners since colonial days needs little explication.

While one might argue that radishes fit into a niche vegetable market, their easy growing nature and peppery taste makes them excellent vegetable garden choices. Their less than mass market appeal means many people come to associate radishes with particular occasions and/or people. The people of Mexico City, for example, celebrate radishes every December 23 during the Fiesta De Los Rabanos, with special carving contests, food and music.

Radishes grow well in most types of healthy soils with a pH level around 6.0. Like other root vegetables, they require a deeper than average soil preparation of about six inches. In the garden they can be planted next to carrots. Suggested indoor seed germination temperatures vary according to a few general rules such as seed strain choice and climactic conditions. Optimal seed germination temperature ranges fall between 70oF and 80oF.

Germination takes place within a few days and in a week or two, the plants can be thinned to encourage root growth.

Because so many mild radish varieties grow small and quickly, keeping the soil weed free and moist during the growing cycle normally produces a great crop. Staggering the radish planting schedule allows for fresh radish harvests throughout the growing season.

Harvesting: Depending on the variety planted, spring radishes are ready for harvest anywhere from 20 to 40 days after germination. Harvesting any radish plant at an early stage of its maturity decreases its culinary bite and increases its moisture content.