How to Compare Vegetables to Decide What’s Worth It to Grow

how long do vegetables take to grow

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To a certain extent, gardening feels like a waiting game. Once we get our plants and seeds into the ground, we immediately start looking forward to the day when we can harvest the food.

But vegetables vary widely in the number of days they need to grow until we can harvest them for dinner.

How long does it take vegetables to grow?

Radishes are ready to eat in as little as 21 days, while Brussels Sprouts need as long as 110 days to grow to a harvestable size. That’s a HUGE difference!

Part of strategically deciding what you want to grow in your garden is knowing the time investment required for each vegetable.

If you want to extend your harvest into as many months of the garden season as possible, you’ll want to plant vegetables that take various lengths of time to deliver their harvest.

For example, in spring, if you plant a bunch of vegetables that take over 100 days to deliver a harvest (leeks, pumpkins, Brussels sprouts), you’ll have a garden growing through the entire summer, but you won’t be able to harvest any food for your dinner table.

That’s no fun!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you only plant short-season vegetables in your garden in spring (radishes, lettuce, spinach), you’ll get a bumper crop in late spring and early summer, but not much food for the rest of the season.

Essentially, your garden will stop providing you with abundant harvests when those spring vegetables are done producing, which is early to mid-summer.

In this blog post, you’ll learn how long it takes to grow different vegetables so you can make an informed decision when choosing which vegetables to devote space to in your yard.

You might even decide some vegetables just aren’t worth it!

how long does it take for vegetables like salad to grow

How Long Do Vegetables Take to Grow?

The most common questions I receive revolve around what varieties I grow in my own garden. I’m serious about evaluating varieties for my garden – they have to grow well in my climate and produce beautiful and tasty food for my kitchen.

I love experimenting with unique and colorful varieties and I think you should, too! In the below post, you can click on each vegetable and read about one of my favorite varieties for that vegetable.

For ease of ordering, in this post most of the varieties are from Botanical Interests. They didn’t sponsor this post, although I am an affiliate for them.

They are a well-known and reputable seed company and I’ve often grown their varieties.

I don’t recommend things that aren’t tested in my own garden, so some of the vegetables won’t have a variety link if Botanical Interests doesn’t have something I’ve grown.

You can also find these varieties through other seed companies online.

Quick to Harvest – Short-Season Vegetables

These vegetables go from seed or seedling to harvest size in 40 days or less, which is pretty quick in garden time! I like to plant as many of these vegetables as possible in early spring when I’m starved for fresh vegetables from the garden after a long winter.

I want a quick harvest!

They’re also a fun choice for gardening with kids to reward their interest in gardening with a fast payback.

Short-season vegetables include: arugula, lettuce (head), radishes, salad mix, spinach, turnips

What does this mean for your garden planning? 

These vegetables do best in cooler weather, so they should be planted as early in the spring as possible.

But if you plant only vegetables from this category, you’ll have plenty of food to harvest at the beginning of the gardening season, but not much during the summer and early fall because they’ll quit producing in the hot summer weather.

Map out exactly when you’re going to plant these spring vegetables by creating your own custom planting calendar here.

Because they like the cool weather, all of the vegetables in this category are prime candidates for planting again in late summer for a fall garden.

In my garden, I plant all of these at least twice a year. Read more about fall planting in this post.

 

how long does it take to grow vegetables

Not-So-Quick to Harvest – Medium-Season Vegetables

These vegetables aren’t as quick out of the starting gate as those above. You’ll need to cultivate a little more patience while waiting for them to grow to harvest size.

They’re usually ready for the dinner table in 40-80 days. This is the largest category, and it features many of the late spring and mid-summer vegetables we all know and love.

Medium-season vegetables include: beans (bush and pole), basil, beets, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cilantro, collards, corn, cucumber, dill, eggplant, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, okra, parsley, peas, peppers, potatoes, scallions, summer squash, swiss chard, tomatillos, tomatoes.

What does this mean for your garden planning? 

This category makes up the bulk of what most of us grow in our gardens. If you grew only this category, you’d get the majority of your harvest during the summer.

Try mixing in some short-season vegetables for food in the spring and long-season vegetables to extend the harvest into fall and early winter.

This will give you a more well-rounded garden and a longer duration of harvests.

>>Know exactly what to plant and when by creating your own personalized planting calendar with this template!<<

 

It’s Going to Take A While – Long-Season Vegetables

These vegetables are an investment in time, but they’re often worth it. They take their sweet time growing and developing, between 80–120 days until they’re ready to harvest.

These vegetables give us gardeners a new perspective on how long it actually takes to grow some of the food we see in the grocery store.

Gardening requires a lot of patience!

Long-season vegetables include: asparagus, beans (dry), Brussels sprouts, celery, dill (seed), edamame, garlic, leeks, melons, onions, parsnips, peppers (hot), pumpkins, shallots, sweet potatoes, winter squash.

What does this mean for garden planning? 

If you grew only vegetables from this category, you’d have to wait until late summer and early fall before harvesting food from your garden.

Mix in some short and medium-season vegetables to ensure you have more months of harvests to feed you and your family.

brussels sprouts plant in garden

Dig In!

Most of us don’t have enough room in our gardens to grow everything that’s on our wishlist.

That’s why it’s important to strategically decide which vegetables will make the cut this season by understanding how long it takes vegetables to grow to harvest size.

Your garden planning homework for this post is to think about each of the vegetables you’re planning to grow this year and know which of the above harvest categories they fall into.

Review your garden plan to make sure you’re growing vegetables that mature at different times of the season so you get the satisfaction of harvesting fresh food from your yard as many days as possible!

And if you haven’t yet decided what you’re growing, check out this post where I walk you through the steps you should take to start to choose which vegetables to grow: So Many Choices! How to Decide What to Grow in Your Garden.

There are three other categories of vegetable characteristics I cover in my book, Smart Start Garden Planner:

And then I help you bring all of the categories together to help you strategically decide what to grow in your garden this season. Grab your copy here and then check out the other garden planning resources below.

garden planning book and seeds

Next Steps for Planning Your Garden

Your garden dreams really can come true . . . you just have to plan for them! If you’d like some guidance in creating a smart and simple plan for a successful season in your garden, here’s how I’d love to help.

gardening planning book

 

BOOK: Smart Start Garden Planner: Your Step-by-Step Guide to a Successful Season. In this book, I help you delve deeper into the different characteristics of all of the vegetables. I even created a Veggie Essentials Cheat Sheet table with each vegetable and everything you need to know about it including in which season it will produce a harvest, how many day it takes to grow to harvest size, and recommended varieties.

Check it out here.

 

 

MASTERCLASS: Smart Garden Planning for Spring. Grow more vegetables than ever in your garden this season!

The most successful gardeners take some time before the garden season begins to devise a simple and smart plan for the year.  A smart garden plan lays the groundwork for a beautiful garden that yields lots of food for the least amount of time and money invested.

Smart Garden Planning for Spring is a fresh and simple approach to planning your garden. This video series keeps planning practical, down-to-earth, and fun!

Join the Masterclass now.

BLOG ARTICLES: Find all of my Garden Planning articles here.

 

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