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

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!

Additional Resources

You can find more of my favorite garden supplies, seeds, tools, books and more in my Amazon storefront.

And if you prefer to shop on Etsy, you can find various lists of great garden recommendations here.

If you have a small vegetable garden, here are some tips for making the most of your small space – 5 Tips for Planning Your Small Garden.

Having a community garden plot is a unique environment in which to garden. There are lots of challenges that are specific to gardening away from your backyard. This post covers the Best Vegetables to Grow in a Community Garden Plot.

 

This is only one of the ways to evaluate each vegetable. In my book, Smart Start Garden Planner, we also talk about in which season you can expect a harvest, how big the plants grow, how much food you’ll harvest from each plant, and how to use all of these factors to decide which vegetables are “worth it” for you to grow.

I even created a handy Veggie Essentials Cheat Sheet at the back of the book that organizes each vegetable and its characteristics. Check out the book here.

 

 

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